I had no idea when I started this season of The Voice
that I was going to meet one of my best friends. But that's Katrina Parker: not only talented, but also incredibly sweet, compassionate and with a sparkling personality.
With the show's focus on helping previously established artists, maybe it's a little harder to imagine that we could be a part of the magic. But in that sense, Katrina was singing for all of us: a promising artist who'd had to give up her passion due to illness and was stuck working in a cubicle (albeit a nice cubicle). She represented all those of us with "normal jobs" and yet a desire to raise our voices. For that reason, I was overjoyed when my coach, Adam Levine, hit his button for her.
I loved Katrina as a person before I got to discover her as an artist. What struck me about her was her warmth. The day we met, she and her teammates Kim Yarbrough and Nathan Parrett let me join them for lunch, even though we'd just met maybe an hour before. They were the first people from the season to make me feel like I fit in. And that continued through the competition; Katrina was the one who bestowed upon me the title of honorary thirteenth member of Team Adam, and she really did treat me as if I was part of the team. I say that because it's an example of how she really cares about everyone around her, and appreciates each person. I got the sense that she was just enjoying the ride along with the rest of us.
She was also one of the most improved artists in the competition, with her coach recognizing her hard work, Christina Aguilera calling her a star, and her winning America's vote in the semifinals. Though that was where her journey with the show ended, Katrina definitely made her mark along the way, and she isn't going back to that cubicle!
"For everybody, this is a make it or break it time," she told me recently. "Being on the show is such a huge challenge, but really the stakes are highest when you're off the show and you have a certain amount of time where there's still interest."
To that end, she's in the studio recording "some fun stuff to give away," and has been performing at various events, including singing the National Anthem during a recent Los Angeles Dodgers home game. Her performance earned her tweet-praise from Adam, which she said "was the first I'd really heard from him since the show [since] he had to focus on making sure that he gave Tony his full attention. I thought that was really cool."
She credits Adam and the show with changing her ambitions. "Being on the show changed what I wanted to do. I realized as much as I love my corner of indie pop, I've been doing it for years and I hadn't connected with people. Doing songs that were more universal, people really connected with [them]. There's the potential for so much more now and it's okay for me to come out of my comfort zone. I'm now on a mission to get the right songs and the right style, co-write and collaborate with the right people."
That could definitely include her fellow Voice
artists or her coach, but right now Katrina is concentrating on getting her own sound down before she brings in anyone else. "I've got to focus on getting this album written and then I'd love to work with some people," she said. "I love Juliet [Simms]'s voice, I love Jermaine [Paul]'s voice obviously. I definitely think that some collaborations might happen."
She added, "If Adam was ever open to it, I'd love to sing with Adam. I wanted to sing with him the whole time. You know what'd be really awesome, would be to record an album, have things go really well, and have him approach me!"
Unlike some of her colleagues, Katrina wasn't surprised by the final results of the season, but like them, she also had a reason to root for everyone: "The fact that I actually had a shot shocked me," she confided. "You want [Tony Lucca] to win because you're Team Adam, but at the same time you want Chris Mann because he's been nothing but nice to you since the beginning, and Juliet, the last girl standing, but Jermaine, his reasons for being there were so good and so noble. Everyone was just so happy for him."
She concurred with the sentiment that teammate Tony's talents may have been overlooked
because of outside factors. "I feel like he got better and better every week. He showed more emotion and the more emotion he showed on stage, the more people just loved him," she said. "Everyone was so caught up in the drama with Adam and Christina. It affected both teams, both of those contestants that were really strong contestants. And then there was Blake, outside of the drama, doing his own thing in his badass Blake kind of way," she added with a laugh.
But it's important to note that she's not condemning anyone either or looking to pin any blame. "Honestly, all the coaches, they're human beings," she explained. "They're doing something, and they're passionate about what they're doing, and they're human. Things happen. I have no doubt that Tony and Chris Mann are going to be just fine, [because] it's not about winning it. It's about taking what you got out of it."
Katrina herself was at the center of some controversy when she was eliminated. While she won the popular vote by a narrow margin, Adam's decision to favor Tony with his point distribution because he felt he had connected better with him (similar to what he did with Javier Colon in season one) sent her home.
Many fans were outraged and media outlets took a few shots at her coach, but Katrina herself says "I have no hard feelings with Adam. He believes in me. I think he helped them kind of fall in love with me. Adam kept saving me and saying 'Don't underestimate Katrina,' and they finally listened to him, and all the good things he'd been saying, and I'm sure everybody felt kind of upset and angry. People need to feel what they're going to feel, [but] I do not want to see anyone say anything horrible to him, however they're dealing with it. Hopefully when my album's finished, they'll be the first to buy it."
She continued, "He's a fair guy and he treated me really well. This show and Adam specifically surprised me in such a good way. It's not just a show, it's bigger than that. It can change your life for the better if you let it. Every person in that place had an open heart and open mind for all of us. We had the show, and all this reality stuff happening, and then these authentic things happened in the middle of it."
And that's what she's taken away from it all. Add Katrina to the list of people who refers to her fellow contestants as a "family," and extends her gratitude and appreciation to the show personnel as well. "I feel like the show really cares," she said. "They care about the contestants, about the people that they deal with. I feel like there's a certain amount of humanity. Since the beginning, I've been treated like a human being, even when I left. If you're going to be on a singing competition, this is the show."
As for her, "This show is what you make of it. Really, it's about the music and if you create really great music people love, you'll be fine. Clearly the voters wanted me to have a happy ending, and I want to give it to them. I'm going to make sure they get it."
With her talent, great personality and honest but still positive outlook, I have no doubt that Katrina is going to achieve that happy ending. She certainly deserves it, both as an artist and as a person that I'm glad I got to know. We all need a Katrina Parker in our lives.To keep up with Katrina, you can follow her on Twitter (@katrinapmusic). For more on The Voice, you can follow my Voice-exclusive Twitter at @bigredchairs.Image courtesy of NBC