Her audition: Vanessa Ferguson, 31, of Greensboro, N.C., auditioned with “Don’t Let Me Down” by the Chainsmokers. When she hit the chorus, Gwen Stefani and Alicia Keys turned around. Blake Shelton eventually joined them. Alicia complimented Vanessa on the way she made the song her own. Vanessa decided to join Team Alicia.
Her background: Vanessa says she’s been performing since she was 3. She was born in Brooklyn and raised by her grandmother. She says she lived in a two-bedroom apartment with her grandmom, her sister and maybe four or five cousins. “I liked to call it the family orphanage.” Her grandmother enrolled her in piano at age 5. When Alicia Keys hit it big, she says everyone wanted her to sit at the piano and play Alicia’s songs. She’s performed classical jazz and rock, but says she finds herself doing more R&B and hip-hop music. She’s toured with the BB King All-Star Band, a group that performs on cruise ships. She calls The Voice the only show that can catapult her career.
What the show didn’t show:
* She also plays guitar and started entering piano competitions in fifth grade. Her Voice bio says she began taking songwriting seriously when she was 13 and moved in with her mother.
* Vanessa studied music at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.
* She says her musical influences include Stevie Wonder, Prince, Chaka Khan, Jill Scott, and Sting.
* She’s collaborated with Ken Fuller, an entertainer who performs as Mr. Rozzi. You can listen to a sample — a song called “N da jungle” on which Vanessa raps — here.
* As part of the BB King All Star Band, Vanessa covered blues and soul classics. In fact, she’s traveled to Spain, Italy, France and several other countries performing with the group.
* In 2011, she was a regular performer at the Lan Club in Beijing. In a 2016 interview, she described it as a facility the size of a football field. During a conference call with the media, she said she was one of three U.S. singers hired to perform there. They mostly performed chart-topping pop covers and jazz with a little R&B mixed in.
* Vanessa has made a living through music for the past 11 years, also performing with groups called the Untitled, The Solcetfre Project and Intrigue, according to her ReverbNation bio.
* She said she created an EP called “Demo” that has been available at her shows and worked with a deejay to create an EDM EP called “Dark to Light” that she hopes is re-released at some point. As for the solo EP, she says it includes a mix of music, some R&B, some hip-hop and some jazz-influenced music. “I am able to do a variety of things and I just wanted to kind of show that and see which one maybe would cause the fish to bite.”
* Vanessa said she went into the audition hoping Alicia would turn around. “I guess the main reason being that we are so similar. You know we both sing, both classically trained pianists. Throughout the years I have always done her music and love her music.”
Keeping up with Vanessa:
“With You” (an original)
“I Got What the Game Needs”