HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - A small town girl and a former student at The University of Southern Mississippi is making headway in a national competition.
Briar Jonnee Blakley, a "country girl" from Shuqualak, Mississippi, took time away from studying Mass Media of Communications at The University of Southern Mississippi to audition for the popular NBC show The Voice.
Blakley said deciding whether to give up school or try out for The Voice wasn't a difficult decision.
"Honestly, it wasn't a tough decision because it's The Voice," Blakley said in an interview. "I've been singing since I can remember, since I've been able to pick out songs on the radio."
Blakley grew up listening to R&B, Gospel and Hip-Hop.
"It's just an amazing experience to be able to hear certain sounds and be able to internalize certain sounds and to be able to live with those sounds," she said.
However, her heart beats to a different rhythm. Blakley hopes to find her way into electronic music, but for now, she is focusing on the competition and is thankful for the opportunity to branch out into the music industry.
"I wanted to be on The Voice for many reasons, but the most important thing was [knowing] that where I come from [there is]… a slim chance for you to be able to do something like this, so I had to audition," Blakley said.
Even after years of experience, Blakley was nervous as she headed to the blind auditions.
"Going into the blind auditions was unexpectedly an emotional roller coaster," she said. "By the time I got there, I was ready to just hit the stage."
Blakley said that seeing the chairs turn was an out-of-body experience.
"Honestly, I think I was a little out of it," she said. "I was overwhelmed with emotions."
Her performance of "Take a Bow" by Rihanna caused both Blake Shelton and Pharrell Williams to press their buttons.
Shelton tried convincing Blakley, but in the end she picked Team Pharrell.
"Being on Team Pharrell is probably one of the highlights of my musical career," she said. "I come from a small town so me being able to say that I worked with Pharrell is huge."
Blakley is determined to work hard in the upcoming weeks as she prepares for the team battle round.
Tune into NBC on Monday and Tuesdays at 8/7 Central Time to keep up with Blakley throughout the competition.
To view Blakley's contestant profile, click here.