This in the latest in an ongoing series about local musicians.
“It was exciting to think of the ‘what ifs,’ kinda like when you think about winning the lottery.” That’s what Washington resident Lynnette Bright said about her participation in the virtual open call for the national television singing competition, The Voice.
“I promised my husband that I would audition for it one day,” said Ayden-Grifton High School teacher Tabatha Rawls.
Nannette Garrett, from Washington, N.C., thought it looked like fun because of the variety of styles and genres.
The locals were among vocalists from all over the country aspiring to expand their audiences through a national platform. The three auditioned online in mid July, and to maintain the excitement and suspense of the show, their individual outcomes will be revealed in due course. But they shared their experience.
The audition protocol only allowed a minute and 30 seconds of content, and that included introducing themselves and the song.
But song choice was the ultimate dilemma. “I have a short list that I’m still debating on and polling friends,” Garrett said prior to her audition. “Heart songs including Even It Up, Straight On, Crazy On You, and Alone but also still considering Million Reasons by Lady Gaga and I Can’t Make you Love Me by Bonnie Raitt.”
She settled on Straight On for the live audition.
Rawls considered Can’t Live, To Make You Feel My Love, Broken Wing and Hallelujah. She decided to perform Can’t Live by Badfinger.
Bright performed Stop Draggin My Heart Around by Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty. She had also considered singing Love Song (Tesla), Hand In My Pocket (Alanis Morrisette), White Rabbit (Jefferson Airplane), and Crazy (Patsy Cline).
Preparing for the audition was the next hurdle. They took to social media for help from friends and received an outpouring of moral support.
Rawls is a mother of three boys, the youngest less than a month old. She laughed about getting ready in between breast-feedings. “I haven’t worn makeup like this in a long time, so it feels really weird.”
Bright bemoaned the fact that she was a little hoarse from practicing so much, but a friend reassured her by singing a Stevie Nicks song, she’d be using it to her advantage.
All three sing locally every chance they get.
Garrett plays bass and sings with her husband, William Garrett, on guitar and Bruce Milligan on drums in their rock band, GARRETT. She was nominated for Best Rock Female Vocal 2018 and 2019 in the Carolina Music Awards.
“I’ve been performing since I was 4 in church and have been in rock bands since I was 18. I also play bass guitar and write and record originals,” Garrett said.
Before the pandemic, she was singing with Laura Davis in an acoustic duo and also singing live and recording new music with her band. “Hopefully after the bars reopen, we’ll be playing in eastern North Carolina again.”
Bright, originally from Bath, owns a cleaning business that has been keeping her busy. She she started singing in lounges and restaurants when she was 11, so figures she’s been singing for 38 years. Both of her parents were musicians.
“They both played guitar, but my dad also played the steel guitar. His name was Pistol Pete Etchison. He played on Ernest Tubb’s song Detour when he was a studio musician in Nashville. It sold over a million copies. He also played behind Patsy Cline and Roy Clark at The Grand Ole Opry.”
Bright said she plays the piano and bass a little but is mostly a singer, performing in family band Afreyed Knot with husband Taylor Bright on bass guitar, son Pete Bright (guitar/vocals), James Stroud (drummer/vocals), Billy McRoy (guitar), and niece Dea Jones (backup vocals/videographer).
“We play a little bit of everything but mostly classic rock. It’s been a lot of work, but a lotta fun too. We are very high energy! Our love for each other and rock and roll translates on stage and in our shows, for sure.”
Rawls started singing when she was about 5 years old in church, where her mother taught her to sing and harmonize. “She sang alto in the church quartet, but she died from cancer when I was 9.” Eventually Tabatha took her place in the quartet and started singing in front of people. “When I went to college I moved to Greenville and got involved in more of the rock music scene, and that’s how I met my husband.”
Tabatha and her husband, known musically as “Coalescent,” perform acoustic shows in local restaurants and bars. “We cover just about every genre of music and pull songs from multiple decades.”
The virtual open call audition was just the first step in a process that could eventually lead to being included on the television show. But from the sound of it, regardless of the outcome, these three enjoyed the adventure, and will keep on doing what they love: singing.