Seconds after she began her rendition of Harry Styles’ “Sign of the Times,” Laura Littleton secured her spot on The Voice.
She even earned praise for managing to blend elements reminiscent of both Dolly Parton and Florence + the Machine into her unique sound.
Littleton grew up surrounded by music in Dickson, Tennessee, outside of Nashville. Her dad played in a bluegrass band at the tire shop he owns, but it wasn’t until her teen years that Littleton performed for the first time. During a recent conversation with iHeartRadio, she remembered the high school drama teacher who asked her to participate in the talent show in her sophomore year, “and I’m a big people pleaser, so I was like, ‘sure,’ and that’s the first time that I was ever on a stage.”
Now a local photographer and a singer at her church, Littleton, 26, earned a chair-turn from Niall Horan and Kelly Clarkson — who used her only block of the season to bar Blake Shelton from recruiting the Dickson native to his team — and praise from Chance the Rapper, who said he regrets not turning his chair during Littleton’s blind audition, and lauded her kindness and vibrant energy.
“That was so fun!” Littleton gushed into the mic amid the applause, donning a vintage camo jumpsuit that she got from her dad. Shelton undoubtedly knew that Littleton was a “country girl,” even if she wasn’t pursuing country music. Littleton turned to Shelton and said, “...I am so honored that I get to be here for your step-away (from the show). Getting to be a part of this process, from the very start to the very end right now, whether someone gets a chair turn or not, you walk away from this a better person (and) more confident, so I am so thankful for that.”
Shelton announced in October that season 23 would be his final season on The Voice (and he could possibly make Voice history if he wins this season). Shelton admitted that he’d “been wrestling” with the decision for a while, but ultimately opted to end his run on the show: “This show has changed my life in every way for the better and it will always feel like home to me. ...I’ve made lifelong bonds with Carson (Daly) and every single ons of my fellow coaches over the years, including my wife Gwen Stefani!”
“Well, now I feel really horrible, stealing that chance (to be on Team Blake),” Clarkson said, following Littleton’s sentiments on stage at her blind audition. The original American Idol champ added later, “I feel like you’re gonna attract people from different genres. You just have all these cool connections, vocally. I was like, this is like Dolly meets Florence and the Machine, and also, it is incredible to watch and listen and see someone that is still stoked every day to get on stage and (perform).”
Clarkson knew, however, that she should’ve blocked Horan, who was in One Direction with Styles.
Littleton ultimately opted for Team Niall.
Littleton caught up with iHeartRadio, talking about her passion for music, her audition for The Voice, her decision to be on Team Niall and more. Watch Littleton’s blind audition here, and read her Q&A below. The Voice airs on NBC on Mondays at 7 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT, and Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT. It’s available the next day on Peacock. Editors note: Q&A has been edited for length or clarity.
iHeartRadio: Your dad played in a bluegrass band while you were growing up, so music has always been in your life… How did you first become interested in music?
Laura Littleton: Well, I haven’t thought about that question in a long time. As far back as I can remember, I had a drama teacher, and he asked me if I would be in the talent show. And I’m a big people pleaser, so I was like, ‘sure,’ and that’s the first time that I was ever on a stage. That was probably sophomore year of high school, I think, so that was a lot of years ago. I would sing with my dad when he would have practices for his events and stuff. But as far as being on stage and performing, that’s something that was new to me when I was on ‘The Voice’ stage. So, I’ve been around music my whole life, but as far as performing goes, that’s something that’s pretty new to me.
iHR: For people who haven’t heard your music yet, how would you describe the sound of your voice/your style?
LL: That’s a great question. I would say that bluegrass is heavily in the roots of my voice. Allison Krauss, specifically, is somebody that I have grown up listening to, as long as I can remember. She is somebody that I, as far as genre and sound, I look up to her a lot. I always say, my mom must’ve listened to Allison Krauss when I was in the womb, because my vibrato is similar to hers. Vibrato might be something that (other) people can explain better than I can, but it’s the shakiness in your tone and in your notes and stuff. So, I would say I’m very heavy on the vibrato side, very heavy on the bluegrass side. I would say anything that I sing probably has like a bluegrass undertone to it. But as far as specific genre, I don’t really know that I would put myself in a specific genre. Primarily, I do worship music. But other than that, I would say bluegrass, folk, country, things like that.
iHR: What does music mean to you in your life, whether you’re listening to it, singing it, writing it, etc.?
LL: I can’t imagine my life without music. I know I had said in part of my interview that they showed (on the show) that music was a friend when I needed one. I had people in my life and I had friends who were there to support me, but I was in a time where I was wanting to self isolate, and music was something that I found that I could go to and not feel quite as lonely. …I think the coolest thing about music is, it is what it needs to be to every individual person. Someone who’s sad can go listen to it and feel joy in the sadness, or it can bring them out of the sadness. Or somebody that is walking down the aisle and they’re about to start this new journey of marriage, music is a part of all of our big events, and I think I just love it because it’s so universal to all the different times in our life. It is what it needs to be.
iHR: What made you decide to audition for The Voice this season?
LL: It is the coolest process. The whole thing — the entire process from start to finish — has been absolutely mind-blowing. People speaking into my gifting, speaking into my talent, is something that’s been (happening) for my whole life. People have always complimented me and encouraged me on my voice. So, one day I just started praying pretty recently, like, ‘God, I’m not doing anything with this gift that you’ve given me. I don’t feel a connection to the gift, so would you give me the desire to use it? And I will walk through whatever door that you put in front of me.’ That same day, one of my friends was like, ‘hey, The Voice is doing live Zoom’ — I don’t even know what it was called — she was just like, ‘audition. Here’s the link, sign up for a time slot.’ I was like, ‘OK, sounds like a door to me, so I’m gonna walk through it.’ So, I walked through it and here we are.
iHR: How did you decide on “Sign of the Times” for your blind audition?
LL: I love Harry Styles, and that’s a song that I’ve always enjoyed. But when I was taking to some of the music directors and producers for The Voice, we were talking back and forth and we were trying to figure out, they were helping me with some song ideas. I mentioned ‘Sign of the Times’ and we ran with it. It was just kind of a spur of the moment thing… I was lucky enough to where everybody was on board with it.
iHR: Your audition got a big response... Kelly Clarkson used her only “block” to block Blake Shelton, Niall turned around for you, and Chance the Rapper said he wishes he would've turned. What’s going through your mind as you’re on stage seeing the response to your performance?
LL: I didn’t even know that Blake got blocked until Kelly had mentioned it. I think I was so overwhelmed with how fun it was that I wasn’t thinking about ‘Oh, I have to now choose somebody,’ or ‘somebody just got blocked,’ things like that. It was crazy once I finally figured out Blake was blocked because Blake was somebody that I would’ve — I would’ve loved to work with any of them, but I think people probably expected me to pick Blake if given the option. So, I thought it was a fun little twist to the episode that Blake got blocked.
iHR: Blake definitely recognized that you're a “country girl!”
LL: Yes, I don’t know if it had something to do with the camo or what. Truthfully, he probably recognized… it’s an old pattern of camo, and it’s from, like, the 60s. It’s a deer-hunting jumpsuit. It was my dad’s, something he has hunted in for his whole life. So, when I had the opportunity to wear it on stage and make it funky, I’m sure Blake recognized that.
iHR: You also get to be on Blake Shelton’s final season of the show. What’s that like to get to witness?
LL: That’s something that is so cool because he is somebody I was really looking forward to having interactions with and working with, so the fact that I got him right as he was going out the door, I thought, that’s so special to me. Because he’s been down to the shop, and my dad hunts with one of his buddies, so we’ve had mutual connection and we’ve missed each other in passing, so the fact that we finally got to see each other and work together and have a moment in time where our lives crossed paths, I just think that’s so special. ...I remember, he talks about going to Centerville and passing through the Dickson Arby’s and stuff, and I remember when I was little, he had a concert at the Centerville Fair, and me and my family drove up there and went and watched him perform and it was awesome.
iHR: Ultimately you decided on Team Niall! Why was that the right fit for you?
LL: People ask me that a lot, and the only thing I can think of is, I knew he knew what I knew, and I don’t know what it was, but he just seemed so — he just seemed like he got what I got. I don’t even know how to explain it, but it was like a connection that we both had with our energy. He just seemed fun and goofy, and he didn’t take himself too seriously, and I feel like he recognized that in me. I wanted to have fun in the process, too. I felt like he brought a lot of fun. I went with my gut.
iHR: What are you looking forward to most about being on the show?
LL: Just having fun. it truthfully is the most fun experience that I’ve ever gotten to be a part of. Every part of it has been fun, even the very first audition to even talking to you on the phone right now. Every part of it has been so fun. That’s what I’m looking forward to!
iHR: What can fans expect from your performances moving forward, whether they're watching this season of The Voice or watching you perform live?
LL: I would say… I hope wherever I’m at and wherever I’m performing that it’s true to who I am and true to my values, and I hope that people will always find a place within whatever I’m singing, so whether that’s them watching me on TV or watching me in person…I hope that it meets them where they are.
I hope that they feel that they always have a space to be freed up whenever they’re listening or watching me. ...I hope my music can offer to people what other people’s music has offered to me.