By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Tori Miller had Gwen Stefani at “rhinestones.”
“The Voice” contestant who hails from Phoenix was chosen by Stefani, the lone coach who turned her chair.
“You’re my queen,” Miller said to Stefani. “I always said to myself, ‘Gwen and I would get along because we love a well-placed rhinestone.’”
On November 3, the day after her blind audition, the 26-year-old Miller says it was “quite an experience.”
“I feel like I just manifested that chair turn,” she says. “I played it over and over in my mind. ‘I want my queen to turn around.’ I remember the first time I ever heard Gwen sing. I was driving a back road in Arkansas and ‘Rich Girl’ came on the radio. I had never heard a voice like that.”
The Siloam Springs, Arkansas, native was 6.
Miller has lived in Phoenix since July 2019, when she moved here to take a job at an infant care specialist in North Phoenix. She hasn’t had a chance to perform here.
“I moved to Phoenix and got into the groove on my job and then COVID hit,” Miller recalls. “Hopefully I can play one of the venues that I frequent Downtown, like Lost Leaf. I love that they have such a passion for local artists and musicians.”
While on “The Voice,” Miller hopes to grow as an artist.
“I’ve been afforded such an amazing opportunity to do that and I’m under the guidance of such amazing coaches,” Miller says. “Gwen heard something in my voice like I hoped she would. She addressed some things I need to work on.
“She told me to be confident. Going on the show, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew I was going to try my absolute best. She saw something in me and said she heard some shakiness or pitch issues. I’d never ever experienced singing in front of four celebrity coaches and the cameras. It’s a different energy to tap into. I’m proud of the job I did.”
For her blind audition, Miller sang Keith Whitley’s “When You Say Nothing at All,” as she was raised on classic country songs in Alabama. She received a full-ride scholarship to Liberty University in Virginia to study music.
“Bred inside of me is a love for tight harmonies,” she says. “I went through a phase of pop country, but classic country is what feels the most natural right now.”
While she was in college, she was accepted to Liberty University’s ministry team and spent the next four years traveling the United States and Canada as a touring musician. Once she graduated, Miller needed a break from music and went back to the rodeo. She won Miss Rodeo Arkansas in 2016, and later the Rising Star Award, where she was featured in Vogue’s issue on the American cowgirl. She spent a few years traveling with rodeos but ultimately decided to get back to music.
“‘The Voice’ was a moment I think will stick with me forever,” she says. “I had my eyes open and Gwen turned around. Her smile was radiating off of me. When the song wrapped and everybody turned around, it was like the chairs were in slow motion. I thought, ‘How am I here right now?’ They were all so kind and generous.”
The Battle Rounds begin on “The Voice” on Monday, November 9, on NBC.