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Romeo's Rachel Mac is happy in "The Voice" spotlight

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

Posted: Thursday, May 20, 2021

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Rachel Mac considers herself "a songwriter first and foremost."

But right now she's in the spotlight for her singing voice.

The 16-year-old Romeo High School sophomore is one of five finalists on NBC's "The Voice," readying for the 20th season's finale episode on Monday, May 24. Coached by Nick Jonas, Mac has wowed judges and voting fans with performances of Patty Griffin's "Let Him Fly" and Kacey Musgraves' "Rainbow" and bested Team Nick mates Bradley Sinclair and Zae Romeo in head-to-head battles.

Her emotive rendition of Christina Perri's "Human," meanwhile, scored Mac her spot in the finals.

"This is awesome," she gushed from Los Angeles by phone the day after the semifinals. "Obviously I'm biased, but I think Season 20 is one of the best seasons. I think any of the top 17 or 20 could've been the winner this season. There's not a single contestant I thought could have fallen short. They are all so amazing.

"That's why it's crazy I'm even in this position. But at the same time, I feel like this is what I was born to do. It really feels natural up there."

Mac's story has clearly become a favorite among "The Voice" pack, however.

Music has "always been part of my life," for Mac. "Ever since I can remember, it's what I wanted to do." She was influenced in particular by her single father, who raised her, and two older sisters who were active in high school theater and choir programs. Mac grew up listening mostly to country and Christian music, first singing publicly at LakePointe Community Church in Oxford, where her father is a worship leader (as is Mac now).

"That's been the only real constant gig, I guess you can say, the only stage I'm constantly on -- even though the church isn't a performance, of course," says Mac. "It's where I get my performance experience, and that really helped me, in that sense. It also helped me stay grounded."

Mac's tastes eventually grew in include "the 70s kind of singer-songwriter era," including Linda Ronstadt, Elton John, Fleetwood Mac, the Bee Gees and the Carpenters. She was a fan of "The Voice," too, and at a friend's suggestion entered the virtual auditions for Season 20 and was invited to take part in the Blind Auditions round. Mac entered the competition as it big fan of judge Blake Shelton, but it was Jonas who turned his chair around as she performed "Let Him Fly."

And Mac says she could not have asked for a better coach.

"I think Nick really helps me in...finding out who I am as an artist and being confident in myself," said Mac, who's been keeping up with her school classes virtually while on the West Coast. "He was young when he started in the industry, so he helps me navigate the competition, and the industry in general."

Jonas, who performed on Broadway when he was seven and then formed the Jonas Brothers with his siblings when he was 13, felt that connection with Mac as well. He told her at one point that, "When I was young and I was coming up, there were a lot of things I relied on -- my family and friends and other artists and mentors -- to help me along the way. This is gonna be a lot for you. I think I can help you navigate that process."

Judges John Legend and Kelly Clarkson have both praised Mac's vibrato during the show, with Clarkson telling her that "your tone is incredible. I cannot believe you're 16. It's outrageous. It's very beautiful." Even fellow contestant Romeo acknowledged Mac as the better singer after their battle, telling her via Instagram that "you have been inspiring to me. The growth that you have shown is unbelievable...I have always told you you were a star. It's time to go show the world that you are."

Mac did show the world a little more before the semi-final, revealing that he has "gone through depression in my life where I felt like it would be better if I wasn't here" as a preamble to "Human." "I think it's something I want to speak about," she explained subsequently. "People on TV see a very bubbly, happy side of me. It is me, but in my past I have felt with depression, and I think it's important to be transparent about that. Everyone's human. We have to be real about our emotions."

Mac's primary emotion now, of course, is excitement for "The Voice's" finale. With at least one outlet, Hollywood Life, dubbing her the competition's frontrunner, Mac will be part of three songs; She can't say can't reveal what they but promises "I have some really fun stuff and some really emotional stuff."

And her growing fan base can rest assured that the hat that's become her trademark will be fixed to her head on the big night.

"Some people love it, some people hate it," Mac noted. "I'm a hat lover. I love my hats. I don't think I could take it off if I tried. When people say to take it off, I'm like, 'You don't understand. I'd have to get it surgically removed!' It's my schtick."

"The Voice" Season 20 finale airs at 8 p.m. Monday, May 24 on NBC (WDIV, Channel 4).

Web Site: https://www.nbc.com/the-voice

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