Her audition: Stephanie Rice, 27, of Texarkana, auditioned with Kelly Clarkson’s “Piece by Piece.” She’d barely started an emotional performance when Blake Shelton turned around. He was soon followed by Gwen Stefani. Gwen praised the emotion in Stephanie’s performance. Stephanie joined Team Gwen.
Her background: Stephanie told The Voice she realized she was gay around the same time her pastor father was preaching “that God did not approve.” She says she was given an option: go to counseling or have her parents drop her off at college and no longer affiliate with her. “I would be history to them,” she said. “So I haven’t had a relationship with them for eight or nine years.” During that time, Stephanie said she never looked back, putting her head down and working “extremely hard.” She earned a degree in biology and began doing research at Baylor College of Medicine, becoming a published author in the process. More recently, she put science to the side and has been pursuing music.
What the show didn’t show:
* Stephanie’s story of coming out to her family is absolutely heart-wrenching, and she shares it in detail in a 2016 interview with OutSmart magazine. Her Baptist pastor father forced her to attend “straight” counseling at one point. And Stephanie was salutatorian of her high school class, but she says her father wouldn’t allow her to give a speech because he considered her “unfit” to be an example for anyone.
* The coaches weren’t the only ones touched by Stephanie’s performance. Kelly Clarkson tweeted: “Can’t. Stop. Crying. Her vulnerability and her story ….just wow. Steph, I hope ur parents open their hearts 2 the beautiful person u r!”
* In a conference call interview the day after her audition, Stephanie said she hadn’t heard from her parents. But she said she had received encouragement from aunts and uncles she hadn’t spoken with in years and was moved to tears by a supportive Facebook post from her brother. That and being showered with support from others “helped heal a lot of wounds,” she wrote in her own Facebook post.
* Over the years, Stephanie said she has channeled her “pain and confusion” into her music. After moving to Houston, she formed a band called Colonial Blue with Jonathan Ward on guitar and Corey Chierighino on drums.
* The band’s web bio says the name Colonial Blue was inspired by Rice’s research into ant colonies during her time studying biology at the University of Houston.
* Colonial Blue released a 10-track album called “Dear Misery” in 2016. Stephanie wrote most of the songs shortly after moving to Houston. The title track is also one of the album’s most compelling. You can check out that song and another track below.
* Stephanie says Colonial Blue’s music blends elements of indie, folk, classic rock, punk rock with a hint of bluegrass twang.
* As for the album’s name, Stephanie sums it up this way: “I had found myself on the broken side of life, and I struggled to transition into better times. Eventually, I was able to look back and say, ‘Dear Misery, you’re not welcome here.’”
* While flattered that Blake turned around so quickly, Stephanie said it was Gwen’s talk about using music “to heal” that prompted her to select Gwen as her coach. “She really just spoke exactly the reasons why I do music,” Stephanie said.
“Dear Misery” (from the album of the same name)
“Break Your Bones” (from the “Dear Misery” album)