Even before her appearance on the 15th season of NBC’s “The Voice”, vocalist Audrianna “Audri” Bartholomew was a performer with a winning history.
Her audition for “The Voice,” which aired on Oct. 1, follows a long career of musical theater performances at many local institutions, including The Muny and The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis and Shakespeare Festival St. Louis. She is the recipient of a Kranzberg Vocal Performance Award and was a finalist in the 2016 Teen Talent Competition, sponsored by the Fox Performing Arts Charitable Foundation. Bartholomew also competed in the competition at the Fabulous Fox Theater in 2015, winning a vocal performance award. In Los Angeles, she has opened for artists like Tyga and Kid Ink.
Clearly, Bartholomew is no stranger to the spotlight. She began singing at age 3 and has never stopped.
Now a 19-year-old freshman majoring in musical theater at Millikin University in Illinois, Bartholomew, who previously attended Francis Howell North and Fort Zumwalt West, has earned a spot on Jennifer Hudson’s team. She described the memory of her blind audition as “a blank.”
“Once you’re up there, the lights are on you and the audience is looking at you, but all you can see is the back of four, grand red chairs,” Bartholomew said. “You’re kind of at a loss. I just remember thinking, ‘OK, I hope I don’t mess up this song.” That was my whole thing, making sure that I had a great performance, no matter whether I got a chair or not. I wanted to make sure I did my best personally.”
During her performance of “Never Enough” by Loren Allred, Jennifer Hudson spun her chair around and said, “Anybody singing that song needs to be on Team JHud.”
Bartholomew described the moment as “so crazy.”
“There was such relief inside me, but at the same time, I had to continue the performance. I’m dramatic, I’m a musical theater kid, so I was holding that note for dear life.”
It was her fourth audition for “The Voice.”
“I started auditioning at the age of 15 … for the open calls in various cities,” Bartholomew said. “I remember traveling to Kentucky, Tennessee, Atlanta. It was just all over the place.
“I think the really important thing is just to remember to enjoy yourself, no matter what. If you’re nervous, the worst thing people can say is ‘no’, so you might as well keep trying … That’s always something I’ve kept in the back of my head throughout this entire process because obviously, I didn’t get through the first three times [but] now I have a chair turn.”
Bartholomew said she “grew up in a musical family.” Her dad is a rapper, and her grandparents are wedding singers. Bartholomew also served as a singer in her church.
“There was always music around me … I remember listening to “Say My Name” by Destiny’s Child, and it was my jam. I was in diapers dancing around and singing along,” Bartholomew said.
Her family moved from Pasedena to St. Louis when she was young.
“When I got to St. Louis, I knew I had to insert myself in either drama or music because that was the passion I had. I knew that was the easiest way to get acclimated to an area, and where I could find my people. As soon as my family moved out here, I was like, ‘I need to join the choir.’ I immediately found a family in a community that I could see myself in.”In The Muny’s 2016 production of “Aida,” Bartholomew performed alongside Michelle Williams, the Grammy-winning singer of Destiny’s Child.
“She’s one of the biggest names that I’ve worked with,” Bartholomew said.
With her sights set on Broadway and Hollywood, her dream roles include Ti Moune from “Once on this Island” and Elphaba in “Wicked.” But her biggest goal is to become the youngest recipient of the EGOT [Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony] award. She doesn’t want to become a musical artist limited to one genre.
“Growing up, my parents always wanted to make sure I was versatile as an artist,” Bartholomew said. “I grew up listening to jazz, R&B, hip hop, soul. I can’t choose. I want to be known as the type of artists that can tackle any genre that she tries.
“I think what comes across to other people is confidence. As a kid, I put a lot of my own self-worth into other people’s hands and I would allow that to take over me. I think growing up and experiencing theater, it’s a lot of taking life in your own hands, and just doing your own personal best. That’s all you can do.”