Earlier this year, 17-year-old Mercedes Ferreira-Dias found herself on the stage of NBC’s The Voice for Season 14's blind auditions. And though she almost made it — judge Kelly Clarkson even said, "She's good!" — it simply wasn't Ferreira-Dias' time. Fast-forward a few months, and now she's representing Miami on Season 15.
When Ferreira-Dias discovered she would again audition for Clarkson, Blake Shelton, and Adam Levine, she was set on choosing Clarkson as her coach. "I really wanted Kelly to turn her chair — like I improved enough to make her turn," she admits.
Then came audition day. "It felt surreal," she recalls. "I did feel a lot more comfortable because I knew what was happening, but that feeling of awe didn’t go away. When you’re up on that stage, it feels like those chairs are empty. You feel the pressure of getting a chair turned, but it felt like no one was there."
Sure enough, she caught Clarkson's attention with her cover of Sara Bareilles' "She Used to Be Mine." But much to her surprise, the American Idol alumna didn't make the move. It was Shelton.
Though Ferreira-Dias had already decided on Clarkson, "when Blake turned around, it felt right," she says. "He said my voice was personal and unique and wanted to work with me after the show. It solidified my decision."
A senior at Mater Lakes Academy in Miami Lakes, Ferreira-Dias has been singing for as long as she can remember. However, she discovered she actually wanted to sing when she was about 6. "I remember that age because in my old elementary school, you had to be in the third grade to join the school chorus," she explains. "I saw my sister performing, and I wanted to perform too." She's been hooked ever since.
Throughout her first decade and early teens, she would watch recordings of The Voice and other shows after school. Although she might not have known it then, they were the catalyst for her audition.
"I was attracted to a show with the concept like The Voice where they're just judging by voice and raw talent," she says. "As soon as I turned 14, I auditioned. I didn't make it past the callback, which is expected for a 14-year-old," she laughs.
Then she attended the blind auditions on Season 14 and came close. Season 15 was the charm. "It really is a story of perseverance," she says. "Having some time to reflect on it, I'm so glad I didn't let it discourage me."
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Though the battles aren't scheduled to premiere until October 15 and 16, Ferreira-Dias is enjoying the ride. And if there's one thing competing on The Voice has taught her, it's to live in the moment. "It's so easy, especially in such a fast-paced situation — it's important to remind yourself to live in the moment and just appreciate it."
And though Miami and the rest of the nation will have to wait at least another two weeks to see Ferreira-Dias belt it out on TV, her city is rooting for her.
"I want to be a symbol of perseverance and be a real-life reminder that success is never guaranteed, but failure is guaranteed if you give up," she concludes. "If I could inspire anyone through winning — or not winning — to just keep going, I would've met my goal."
The Voice airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on NBC.