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Nicole Kato

Many Looks, One Big Voice

Local girl Cheesa Laureta makes it through the first two rounds of NBC’s The Voice, and starting April 2 she’ll need the votes of Hawaii folks during live rounds

Watching 21-year-old Oahu-born Cheesa Laureta perform Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse of the Heart with Angie Johnson on episode six of The Voice‘s second season gave many Americans goosebumps.

The video clip of the performance has been spread all over social media sites as people congratulate Laureta on her win over Johnson.

This Filipina-American, who grew up in Ewa Beach and Kalihi, took a bold step at the age of 16 when she decided to move to Los Angeles to pursue her dream of becoming a singer.

Laureta attended St. Francis School in Manoa before graduating from Hollywood High School in 2008.

“It was a crazy transition going from an all-girls Catholic school in Hawaii to a big city public school in the heart of Hollywood,” Laureta admits. She says she was ready to leave after three months, but credits her mother, Martiniana, for pushing her to follow her dreams.

Laureta moved to the Mainland with her brother Troy (a singer/songwriter), and they both knew it was a step they had to take to further their music endeavors.

She explains that her father Joseph, was not all for their decision, but she understands he was looking out for them in the long run.

“He wanted a more stable career, and to have both his children in the music industry was scary for him,” Laureta says. “But I’m glad he gave in and that my brother and I are making him proud.”

While Troy is currently touring Asia with Filipina singer Charice Pempengco, Laureta is making a lasting impression on NBC’s The Voice.

She expressed great appreciation and love for her parents who have sacrificed in order to help their children’s dreams come true.

The Voice consists of three stages: blind auditions, battle rounds and live performance shows, where America will decide who wins a recording contract with Universal Republic Records and be named “The Voice.”

During the blind auditions, celebrity music coaches Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton face away from the stage. They are able to hear the performances but cannot see the singers.

According to The Voice, if a coach is impressed by the artist’s voice, he/she pushes a button to select the artist for his/her team. At this point, the coach’s chair will swivel so that he/she can face the artist he/she has selected.

Each coach must recruit a team of 12 artists by the end of the blind auditions.

For her blind audition, Laureta sang Beyonce’s If I Were a Boy, and Cee Lo Green hit his “I Pick You” button that turned his chair around, putting Laureta on his “Red Zone” team.

After Laureta’s blind audition performance, Green added, “What’s your name, you wonderful thing, you?”

“It was surreal because I already missed my cue in the beginning and in my mind I was sure I was going home,” Laureta says. In her blog on The Voice‘s website she wrote, “Cheesa you buffoon! Now the coaches aren’t going to turn for you. All you can do now is kill it!” And she did.

She’d wanted to be on Green’s team and says she felt relieved when he turned at the last second. She feels grateful and blessed to be given the opportunity to work with him, whom she views as an amazing talent.

One can never know what to expect during a blind audition, but Laureta says she just gave it her all and prayed for the best. She even brought a little bit of Hawaii to the stage when she let out a big “CHEE HOO!” after being chosen by Green.

“I had to represent,” she says.

Her fun-loving and happy personality shined through during her blind audition and continues to do so. Friends from her time at St. Francis remember her as being a down-to-earth person who was always smiling and always funny.

Even though she made it through the blind auditions, Laureta knew she had to keep working hard to make it through the battle rounds. With the help of Green and legendary singer/songwriter Babyface, Laureta was able to advance to the third stage of The Voice.

“I was in awe that he was my mentor because he has been such a big influence on me, and to hear him say that I was good left me speechless,” Laureta says.

Babyface, who has written and produced for well-known artists such as Madonna, Boyz II Men and TLC, is a musical genius to her, and she hopes she can work more with him in the near future.

“He (Babyface) left me with something that I will never forget, and that is to know yourself in the dark so that whenever something strikes, you are able to adapt because of how well you know yourself,” she says. “He also taught me to be humble enough to gain more knowledge from advice and critique so that I can grow more as an artist and as a person.”

Green, also has impacted Laureta in a big way.

“Cee Lo is definitely an extremely talented person,” she says. “He is able to transition himself from genre to genre without losing his personal style and flair.”

She also respects Green’s ability to truly be himself no matter what others think of him. “That’s what captivates people toward him,” Laureta says.

Green’s self-respect and ability to be himself encouraged Laureta. “That inspires me and should inspire other artists to hone their craft and not try to be and do what others are doing.”

With the help of Green and Babyface, Laureta was able to come out victorious after her duet battle with Angie Johnson. (Green picked both to be on his team during the blind auditions.)

“Battles are nerve-wracking!” Laureta says. “You’re in a team and have already built friendships with people and to think you have to compete and battle against your teammate is difficult.”

Even though this was a battle, and one of them would be going home, Laureta says she wanted to focus on giving an epic performance as a unit. And the duo did just that.

Laureta comes from a duo background singing with her brother, who pushed her to audition this year. They were in a singing group, A2C, and were even ready to release an album.

Because of her experience singing with a partner, Laureta knew when to come in and when to fall back during the performance.

“I auditioned last year and didn’t even make it past the executive auditions,” she explained.

She knew she had to bring her A-game after watching Johnson’s YouTube performance of Adele’s Rolling in the Deep, and had nothing but praise for her teammate and opponent.

“Angie Johnson is extremely talented,” Laureta says. “This woman is insanely great.”

Laureta says she respects and loves artists from many different genres, but R&B and pop singer Beyonce Knowles tops them all.

“She (Beyonce) embodies woman power and is extremely multifaceted,” Laureta explains. “My best friend and I watch all of her DVDs and imitate all of her moves, and basically know every riff of her songs.”

Laureta must now prepare for the third stage of the competition (live rounds) of The Voice, which begins April 2 on NBC. The 24 artists who make it through the battle rounds (six from each of the four teams) will compete in the live rounds. Each week, they will perform live, and America will vote to decide who moves on to the finals. During the show’s finale, four artists will perform for America’s votes and one will be crowned “The Voice.”

On an episode of The Voice, Laureta expressed her passion for singing and is determined to do her best.

“If this is what you want,” she says, “you gotta fight for it.”

Follow Laureta on Twitter (@CheesyFbaby) and “like” her Facebook page, facebook.com/CheesaLauretaTheVoice.

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