Hailing from the great state of North Carolina, Brooke Simpson, 27 (Haliwa-Saponi) never realized she would be sitting on the top of the finalist platform for last season’s The Voice as the main contender on “Team Miley.”
Simpson’s love of music started at age seven when she started singing with her parents at church services. Years later, Simpson defeated nearly insurmountable odds to rise as one of the finalists out of 60,000.
Simpson is still going strong and working on her music career full-time. She took some time out of her busy schedule to speak with Indian Country Today’s Vincent Schilling.
Schilling: You made it to the top three in the last year's season of The Voice. This must have been some wild ride for you.
Simpson: Oh my gosh, It has been a wild ride. It's amazing 60,000 people have tried out for the voice and I remember attending the blind auditions there were about 90 of us there, and we were all there for one month together. I remember thinking wow out of 60,000 people, we are the top 90. Now to not only say that, I am able to say I was in the top three out of 60,000 people, it's truly unbelievable.
Schilling: Wow, that's amazing. It's like the Olympics.
Simpson: (Laughs) Yeah, the vocal Olympics!I
Schilling: Can you tell me a bit about the journey you went on?
Simpson: The blind auditions started in June of last year, and everything started airing in September 2018. My initial involvement on the voice started in January of 2017. I literally spent my entire year with The Voice. I initially auditioned about five years ago. I first tried out in Atlanta, Georgia I was in college and was dating my now husband. I was trying to figure out my way as an artist. I got through the initial audition, but I only made it past that round. I had also tried out for American Idol as a teenager, and I had told myself I was finished with the auditioning thing. In January 2017, someone from The Voice emailed me. They called me on an old telephone number which was my dad's number, and they said 'We saw your audition tape from four years ago, we would love for you to come give it another shot. When this all happened, I didn't think it would go too far just because of what had happened in the past.
Schilling: I can imagine it's hard to have a positive attitude when you are facing such a magnitude of odds against you.
Simpson: Exactly, but to make it as far as I did, I just really had no idea that when I went to that audition in February, that my entire life would be changed.
Schilling: What is it like to go from an audition alongside your peers, to a world filled with stages and lights and cameras and be thrust into the public eye?
Simpson: You have a million things happening and people are asking you a million questions, and they are asking about the things you are doing every single week. On top of this you are trying to focus on one song to sing week to week. Then you are also thinking about the song you are going to have to sing in the upcoming week. And then you have a vast number of people and fans and supporters calling out you on social media, it's unbelievable. I could not have asked for a better year. It was the best year of my entire life.
Schilling: What are some of the cool moments that stick out to you over that year?
Simpson: One thing that sticks out are all the amazing fans. They do so many amazing things. For example I had a meet and greet in my hometown in North Carolina, I just put it out there on social media, and the reaction was absolutely nothing that I expected. I thought a few of my hometown folks and friends would show up, and it would be nice to share some hugs and laughs. But over 800 people showed up, a lot of them were from out of state, and they just came to say hello and give me a hug. It was incredible to hear how some of the people said my music has helped them, comforted them and that my interactions on social media help them feel better. It was so overwhelming in the best way. The one wonderful thing about people who are fans, is they talk to me as if I am reachable and can speak with them on a personal level. They talk to me like we are best friends and that is very cool.
Schilling: How does it feel as a Native woman representing Haliwa-Saponi and Native culture in general at this level?
Simpson: it is such an honor. I told myself before all of this began to if I can do just one small thing to help represent my culture and my tribe and let the world know that we as Native people do exist, because a lot of times I do feel that we as native people are forgotten people -- I thought it would be awesome if I could play a small role in doing something to bring more exposure. The reactions I have got from tries all over the US and Canada, has been amazing. It is such an honor to represent not only my tribe but Native people all over. I'm so happy to have played an even larger role than I expected in all that.
Schilling: You were on Team Miley. What are your reactions with Miley Cyrus? Her and her family claims some Cherokee heritage.
Simpson: The whole experience was incredible. I picked Miley because I loved her and I love her music. She was a coach I knew that I wanted to go with. When one time we went backstage, I met her mom. It was great to hear how much they loved Native culture, it felt like a 'God thing.'
Schilling: After making it to the top three in The Voice, what's next for Brooke Simpson?
Simpson: This whole experience has brought forward what was a faraway reality to pursue my musical career full-time. Now I know that this is a reality for me. I am ready for whatever the future has for me. But what I am focusing on for 2018 is building a team of knowledgeable and trustworthy people, I would love to start touring All over the US and even outside of the US. I want to record an album. I have a lot of songs that I have written before and during The Voice.
I'm looking forward to the future.