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Palmyra singer reflects on her time on ‘The Voice’

Olivia Farabaugh has a dream.

While she loves doing hair for a living, her passion is making music. After releasing her debut album “Prisoner of War” last year on iTunes and performing locally nonstop, Farabaugh had a chance to have her dream come true when she flew out to Los Angeles to take the stage on NBC’s hit reality show, “The Voice.”

Farabaugh, 21, of Palmyra, was sought out by “The Voice” executives after they discovered her on the music site ReverbNation, allowing her to skip the open call and go directly to a private session in New York City.

“I had to check to see if they were messing with me, but it ended up being legit,” Farabaugh said. “I told my mom, ‘I don’t know about this.’ But it was good.”

After playing cover songs in New York, the executives reviewed Farabaugh’s audition. Farabaugh waited by her phone to find out if she would go out to Los Angeles for the executive auditions.

“It was funny because I got a missed call from Los Angeles, but they didn’t leave a message,” she explained. “I waited an hour or so, but had another missed call. It turned out my voicemail box was full. They called the next day, and it was fine. I immediately started happy-crying.”

After spending four days in Los Angeles for her executive audition, Farabaugh returned home and waited to find out if she was one of the 96 out of 40,000 auditionees chosen to sing in front of celebrity judges Adam Levine, Pharrell Williams, Christina Aguilera and Blake Shelton.

Video: Prisoner of War -- Olivia Farabaugh
Olivia Farabaugh of Palmyra, PA performs "Prisoner of War" off of her album Prisoner of War that was released in 2015.
Jeremy Long, Lebanon Daily News

Farabaugh got the call that she would be one of the singers selected to perform on the show, but she had to keep it a secret from just about everyone outside of her family and boss until Feb. 19.

“They were so supportive the whole time,” Farabaugh said of her bosses at U-Turn Salon in Palmyra. “They had to bite their tongue, too. It was really fun to have them behind me the whole way.”

On Feb. 19, Farabaugh made it known that she did indeed make it to the blind audition stage of the show, which resulted in a lot of support and curiosity as to how far she made it.

Per her contract with NBC, though, Farabaugh was unable to comment on if she advanced to the round of the competition.

“It was so awesomely overwhelming. The support was amazing,” she said. “No one even knew the outcome yet. It was very uplifting to know I had that many people behind me.

“It was so hard, and I had to bite my tongue so many times. There were a good amount of people to reach out to find out what was happening. There were so many people that were trying to bribe me what was going on.”

When Farabaugh took the stage, she stepped outside of her comfort zone without her guitar, calmed her nerves and had her 90 seconds of stage time in front of the cameras and judges.

“My heart was pumping. I remember going onto the stage, but halfway through my song, I don’t remember going on,” Farabaugh said.

While she couldn’t reveal the song that she chose to sing, she did say that it was one that had a positive message, was uplifting and, most importantly, it fit her style.

After her 90 seconds were up, the music stopped and the realization set in that none of the judges turned around to pick her, thus eliminating her from the competition.

“Blake made a comment about the emotion in my voice. He felt I was a genuine person by listening to me,” she said. “He said in some points that I lacked strength. Christina interrupted him and said that at some points I lacked some control, which I could totally see.

“Pharrell gave me different things I could do to improve on that. Adam said he was so close to pushing his button a couple of times, but he agreed with Christina that I lacked control at some points.”

Hypothetically, though, if all four judges would have turned around in their chairs, who would Farabaugh have selected?

“I would have picked Blake,” she said with a smile, adding that she was going to go with a song from Shelton’s ex-wife, Miranda Lambert, for the blind audition, but decided to err on the side of caution. “With his style and being that I do have a country feel to my music, he would have helped me improve with that.”

Farabaugh was disappointed that she didn’t advance in the competition, but she said as soon as the judges turned around and she saw who she was singing in front of, she realized how much hard work she put in just to get to the point where she could get honest feedback from them.

Farabaugh’s audition ended up not airing on TV, but she’s still happy with the experience and the exposure she’s received.

“It was … a little bit of a disappointment, but I’m getting so many opportunities still,” she said. “My whole saying with this experience is that I know God has some plan for me. The path that I’m on is where he wants me to be, and I have to embrace that at this point.”