Local Singer Strives for the Stars
One of San Angelo’s rising stars recently returned from auditions for The Voice in Nashville, Tenn. to sing at the opening of the men’s slack performances at the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo Wednesday.
Chelsea Lathum, 22, is a San Angelo native intent on realizing her dream of making it big one day. Her story starts when she was 4-years-old, watching Cinderella in daycare. “I started singing with the movie and my daycare teacher was like, ‘You sound really good!” she said. “I just kept singing and singing and it eventually became something that I really enjoyed.”
Lathum says she didn’t really start singing until she was 19 because she was shy, but, after having found the support of family and friends, began attending karaoke bars and practicing in front groups.
“When I first started I would just go to karaoke bars because I was just terrified,” she said. “I was like, ‘If I’m going to do this, I need to get in front of people, and if I don’t get in front of people, I’m never going to get to the point that I need to be.’”
By age 20 her talent had attracted a member of a local band, who approached her to ask if she’d be interested in joining. Lathum sang with the group for a short while, she said, but a falling out ended that venture quickly.
“It didn’t work out,” Lathum said. “I just thought, I can do this on my own. I don’t need to be a backup singer, I can do it on my own. I kept singing and I would do contests and stuff like that and I kept winning and it just made me feel good about myself. I was like you know what, I’m going to go to Nashville and I’m going to do this,” she said.
Having registered to audition for The Voice, Lathum and her mother got into the car and headed for Tennessee. She’d been given a call date, and upon arrival was sat in a huge room and told to wait until she was called in to sing. Lathum says the audition was very intimidating.
“There’s a producer and there’s an assistant producer and they’re sitting next to each other and they just stare at you,” she says. “They have their little MacBooks in front of them…and they sit there and they tell you ‘Ok, we’re just going to call you, one-by-one,’ and of course I get to go first.”
Nashville had seen a hard rain on that day, and Lathum had had to stand outside in the brunt of it for an hour before her audition. A Texas girl, she says she wasn’t prepared for the inclement weather and her hair had looked horrible by the time she made it inside.
“…then you go in, whenever it’s finally your turn, and it’s ten people,” she continued. “There’s five on each side and then there’s the producer sitting in front of you and the producer is the one who says either you’re going to make it or you’re not. I get in there and I did my best, and it wasn’t what he wanted…but he looked at me as I was walking out the door and he grabbed my arm and he said, ‘I want you to come back next year.’”
Lathum sang three songs while she was at the audition, including “House of the Rising Sun”, “Stay” by Sugarland, and “At Last”. She selected the songs herself, and was told by the producer that the songs she chose were perfectly-suited to her voice and style. He had been selecting songs for others at the audition that day, and she was grateful he’d opted to stick with her choices. “If I had been put on the spot, I don’t know what I would have done,” she said with a laugh.
Although she didn’t make it on The Voice, Lathum is optimistic about the direction of her music career. Prior to leaving for Nashville, she was approached by an agent who wants to make her a part of her circuit. Lathum says she will begin getting things started with her agent soon, and hopes to have gigs booked in and out of town.
When it comes to her music, Lathum writes her own songs and sticks to Texas and traditional country. She wrote her first song when she was 7, and has found that although she’s changed a lot through the years, her preferred writing style has not.
“I wrote the dumbest song. It was about a farm…I think it was called ‘The Crazy Farm,’” Lathum remembers her first effort. “It was just dumb, but it made sense—it was about a farmer who had all these animals that just didn’t do what they were supposed to…but it was basically a story that I put music to. That’s what all of my songs are. Each song that I have written is about a life experience that I’ve gone through. It means more whenever you do it that way, because you can put more feeling into your music when you’ve actually experienced what you’re singing about and you believe in what you’re singing about,” she said.
Chelsea Lathum anticipates great things this year, beginning with booking more gigs. An official Facebook page and website are currently under construction. Until then, keep an eye out for her on the bills of local venues.
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