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Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Valarie Harding, 41, is now a part of Team Legend (John) on season 22 of NBC’s The Voice. Her journey started as a young girl in the church in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Growing up, she traveled with her mom and family to sing at churches and other events. As a young adult, she moved to Tulsa, and she has been singing the whole time.
“My journey is a musical journey. I have been singing my entire life.” Harding told the Black Wall Street Times. “I know this might sound weird to some people, but I’ve never stopped singing; I’ve never had down time, I’ve sang my whole entire life.”
For nearly two decades, Harding has been the lead singer for Black Wall Street Band, and she shares the stage with her husband and guitarist, Parry Harding. Their band has performed at many events, including weddings, birthdays, and music festivals. For the past year and half, their band has held a Thursday night residency at Retro Grill and Bar, a Black-owned bar in Tulsa.
Hesitation due to time restrictions
Initially, Harding was not interested in applying for an audition to be on The Voice. The first suggestion to apply came from her worship pastor, Alex Geiger, followed by a couple of other people. “He had sent me a link to try out and a couple of other people sent me links too, and you khow, I was kind of against it. I was like, oh no, I don’t have time for that.” She told the Black Wall Street Times. “I don’t have time; I got a family and I’m too busy already around here in Tulsa. I’m like, Nah, I don’t really want to do that type of thing.” she said.
Despite her initial reluctance, she decided to apply for an audition, and to her surprise, she received some good news: she got a call back. She mentioned how shocked she was because she didn’t have time to prepare.
“I had my time off. I was thinking my audition was at 6:30, but it was at 5:30 Central, and I was like, you know I wasn’t ready and prepared” she told the Black Wall Street Times. “So, when they hit me back up and said, congratulations, you’re getting a call back. I was very shocked on that.”
Harding’s episode of her audition aired on September 26, 2022, when she did a cover of Aretha Franklin’s “Something He Can Feel.” Right before her performance, she said, “I’m going to walk out there, and blow the roof off The Voice stage.” Just moments after she began singing, the coaches started responding. Gwen Stefani said “Woah,” Camila Cabello said “Woo,” and Blake Shelton gave his nod of approval, but it was John Legend who turned around first, even giving her a standing ovation after her performance.
Each judge gave their comments in response to her performance, but John Legend seemed to have the most enthusiasm towards Harding. He joked about being the first person to turn for her, and then said, “One of my favorite things about your voice is your vibrato. I haven’t heard a voice quite like yours.” He also mentioned the many versions of the song he has heard, but she made the song feel fresh. Legend ended his comments by saying “You have such great energy coming from you, and I would love to have you on the team.”
In the end, Harding chose John Legend to be her coach. She mentioned her experience working with him has been amazing. “John is an amazing, amazing coach, amazing person.” she told the Black Wall Street Times. “I’m just happy and excited to be working with him; just ready to see how this goes.”