Does the moppet to your left look familiar? If so, you might be one of the world’s rarest creatures — a fan of The Voice who’s also seen Kevin Smith’s 2003 flop Jersey Girl. Raquel Castro, the girl who starred in that film as the plucky daughter of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez’s characters, resurfaced on the second episode of NBC’s singing sensation last night and ended up getting chosen to join Christina Aguilera’s team. As it turns out, Raquel is far from the only Voice contestant who had significant experience in show business before snagging a spot on the series.
We’ve already discussed Frenchie Davis and Javier Colon, who are probably The Voice‘s best-known contestants when judged solely by their pre-show careers. But did you know that a VH1-anointed diva, two successful songwriters, and three more former child stars — among other semi-famous singers — also made the Top 32? Here’s a list detailing other Voice hopefuls’ brushes with fame:
In 2003, Tarralyn Ramsey won the first and only season of VH1’s Born to Diva, a reality competition in which would-be Mariahs tried to impress the likes of Gloria Estefan, Patti LaBelle, and Kelly Rowland with both their pipes and their larger-than-life attitudes. Tarralyn subsequently scored a record deal with Verity/Warner Bros. and toured with Mary J. Blige and Ray Charles. Check out the video for her single “Up Against All Odds” — which begins with a clip from Born to Diva — below:
Cherie Oakley‘s more than just a seasoned backup singer who’s supported Carrie Underwood and Gretchen Wilson on tour; she’s also a co-writer of “Turn On the Radio,” which became a hit when it was recorded by Reba McEntire. (Reba, incidentally, is going to serve as a guest mentor on The Voice next week.) American Idol contestant Lauren Alaina also performed the song during this season’s Top 24 week.
Casey Desmond‘s songs have been featured in episodes of MTV’s My Super Sweet 16, Road Rules, and The Real World, as well as the trailer for The Mysteries of Pittsburgh.
Vicci Martinez was put through to Hollywood during the first season of American Idol, but she elected not to accept the offer: “Just having to sing cover songs all the time, and [being told] what to wear — I just couldn’t do it,” she told a local news affiliate in Tacoma, Washington after the fact. (Presumably, she’s all right with singing cover songs now.) Vicci also made it to the semifinals on CBS’s Star Search in 2003.
Dia Frampton formed a band with her sister Meg (called, appropriately enough, Meg & Dia) in 2004. They performed at Warped Tour in 2006 and 2007, opened for Angels & Airwaves in 2008, and were signed with Warner Bros. for three years before being dropped in 2010.
Serabee (a.k.a. Sarah Buras) was once signed with Universal Republic records. She also penned “Crazy Chick,” which Charlotte Church recorded; it reached No. 2 on the UK’s charts.
Emily Valentine made a big impression when she auditioned for American Idol‘s eighth season. Back then, she was going by Emily Wynne-Hughes. She, too, made it to Hollywood, but ended up getting cut after she forgot the lyrics to a Fleetwood Mac number.
My personal favorite: When she was 12 years old, Kelsey Rey was a member of the Disney girl group Funn Club. (On the cover of their album, which was released in 2003, she’s standing second from the right.) Their cover of “Whoop There It Is!” — “Party over here/Party over there/Hands in the air/Shake your derriere!” — is truly fantastic.
Tje Austin has opened for Trey Songz, Anthony David, and Dwele.
Tori & Taylor Thompson, too, have been making music since they were too short to ride roller coasters. The sisters were two of the five winners of American Juniors, the fairly terrible AI spinoff that aired in 2003. That sure was a big year for eventual Voice contestants! Fun fact: Pretty Little Liars star Lucy Hale also got her start by winning American Juniors.
Whose pre-Voice career surprised you the most, PopWatchers? Do you think it’s fair that music industry newbies are competing against folks like these on NBC’s show? And how frickin’ adorable is Raquel’s performance as a wee Mrs. Lovett in this clip from Jersey Girl?