'The Voice': Ria Eaton is a rags-to-riches storyby jmaloni
Behind the Screens with Joshua Maloni
"The Voice" is a life-changing opportunity for singer Ria Eaton. To put it bluntly, her appearance on the hit NBC reality series was like winning the lottery - a one-in-a-million shot to be plucked from obscurity, and to work with musicians she'd never be able to work with on her own.
Ria's mother is a dance teacher who once performed for the Boston Ballet. When Ria decided she wanted to sing instead of dance, her mother turned into her "mom-ager" (mom-manager), and helped Ria get gigs (most notably with the Boston Symphony Orchestra).
Ria's father lost his job about five years ago, and her mother was forced to close the family's dance studio. They lost their home, and Ria had to quit music lessons.
"I've recently started working as an ear-piercer at the mall," she said before her blind audition. "I've been writing; I've been trying to get my face - my songs - out there. But recording time costs a jillion dollars, and we don't have that."
What Ria does have is talent, and she showed that on "The Voice." On stage, she performed Anna Kendrick's "Pitch Perfect" song "Cups." Her voice drew last-second "I Want You" chair turns from coaches Blake Shelton and Shakira.
"I think you started singing better when it crossed your mind that, 'This isn't going to happen,' " Blake said. "I think that's when you finally let go and, all of a sudden, it's like her voice opened up. The pitch was there. You had that rasp that ... you have to be born with it."
"You were having a few issues in the first half of the song," Shakira said. "Then when I heard that raspy voice, I just realized the kind of singer I was in front of. You're like a pearl in an oyster. And if you pick me as your coach, I'm going to take that shell, I'm going to pry it open, and I'm going to make sure ... we're going to polish that pearl. ... We're going to show the world what a jewel you are."
"This is definitely a huge moment," Ria said. "To have four of the coolest people in the music industry potentially coach me, it's career-changing.
"There's been a lot of tough times in my life. And to have this opportunity now, it's unreal.
"Everybody has a dream, and everybody needs a chance, and this one's mine."
Ria picked Blake.
"One of my favorite artists that I've got is Ria Eaton," Blake said. "She just doesn't sound like anybody else, and I love people that stand out."
"To have already developed that sound, and have that rasp, it's one in a million," he added. "And I can't wait to see where we end up with her."
Ria said her situation has improved since working with Blake.
"I mean how can life not improve when you're working with Blake, pretty much, to say the least?" Ria told BTS Tuesday. "There's so many good things that are - that happens, like, that come out of working with a celebrity coach, and I'm just hoping that you guys can all see that in the next round."
In the hours that followed Ria's first performance on "The Voice," "I literally had to put my phone in a separate room and just let it do its own thing, because it would not stop going off," she said. "Watching my blind was, like, insane, because there were things that happened that I didn't even remember that happened, because I walked on the stage and it's like I was in a different place while it was happening. And the past 24 hours have been insane, and I could not feel more humbled, and I'm so overwhelmed by all the love and support that I'm getting."
"The Voice" continues with the "Battle Rounds" Monday and Tuesday at 8 p.m. on NBC.
>>Follow Ria on Twitter @riamusic.
•Joshua Maloni writes about television shows such as "The Voice," "Helix," "Psych," "The Black List," "Grimm" and "24." Follow him on Twitter @joshuamaloni.