In the world of reality television, there is something for everyone: loosely scripted shows, competition shows and documentary series. I, personally, am a fan of the competition shows like America's Got Talent, American Ninja Warrior, and The Voice. I love seeing the mixture of people on these shows, from the very talented to the not so talented. As the season progresses, it's exciting to watch who moves on and who gets eliminated.
Season 11 of The Voice was no exception. With her booming voice, I was cheering for Wé McDonald to go all the way and all the way she did, right up to the finals! It was thrilling. While I felt she should have won the competition, I was ecstatic for how far she got. And it wasn't just Wé's voice that I admired, it was also her perseverance, overcoming hardships, and message of self-love.
I am overjoyed to have the opportunity to interview Wé McDonald just before she takes the stage at NYC's Highline Ballroom this Friday, February 3 at 7pm. Come see Wé along with her special guests Matthew Whitaker & Friends light up the stage with their amazing voices! The Highline Ballroom is located at 431 West 16th Street (between 9th & 10th Avenue). Click here for tickets!
1. On February 3, you are performing at NYC's Highline Ballroom. What are you looking forward to most about this concert? I'm most excited about the people coming. I love when people come together to enjoy something they have in common!
2. The concert is being presented by The Harlem School for the Arts and Jill Newman Productions. You are a student at Harlem School for the Arts. How do you feel the training there prepared you for your experience in this business and on The Voice? At HSA, they don't baby you. We all have an understanding that we have to work hard for what we want to do and they trained me beautifully for that.
3. Who or what inspired you to become a singer? I started singing because my sister (who is a singer as well) was always competing in talent shows and I wanted to be like her. I started developing a strong drive at a time when I was going through some difficult life experiences. I vowed then that I wanted to change the world with my music.
4. You were a finalist on Season 11 of The Voice. What made you initially want to audition for the show? How did you decide to pick Alicia Keys as your coach? What was the most valuable lesson you feel you learned from her? My father surprised me with the audition for The Voice. We had always thought it was a great show, so I'm happy that I got that opportunity. When I had my blind audition, I wanted to pick a judge I knew would accept me for who I was and would always be real with me. That's how I came to pick Alicia, although before the show I wanted to be on Team Adam. But I'm happy I picked her because she supported me and my other team members and encouraged us to always stay true to who we are.
5. As you moved up each round, what thoughts went through your mind? What did you think about as you went into the finals? Was that moment when you felt all your dreams were aligning or did you feel something different? Through each round, I just kept saying to myself that every performance has to be better than the last by a longshot. It was very gratifying knowing that I kept succeeding through every round. I knew that all of it was a part of a bigger plan that I had in my heart ever since I can remember.
6. On The Voice, you got to cover multiple hit songs including Mary J. Blige's "No More Drama," Nina Simone's "Feeling Good," Hozier's "Take Me To Church," and so many others. How did you choose the songs you sang? Did any of the artists (aside from Nina Simone) contact you after singing their songs? If so, what was it like to hear from them? Between me, Alicia, and my father is how I chose my songs but most of the time I came to Alicia with songs and she helped me through them. Alessia Cara actually tweeted me after I sang "Scars to Your Beautiful." She thanked me for supporting the movement! It was fantastic to know that she noticed.
7. In your song "Wishes," you sing "Still a little dirty, got scars all on me, been through a lot of fights, but they made something of me." What do you feel was your biggest scar or toughest fight that made you who you are today and without that experience, you might be somebody different? When you go through being ridiculed, you tend to fight harder. That pushed me to get stronger. That's why I am where I am today.
8. You are only 17 years old. With all the exposure you got from being on The Voice, how has your new found fame affected you? What has been the hardest adjustment? What is the best part about it? The fame hasn't affected me at all. If anything, it’s made me more humble. I've had to adjust to random people knowing who I am, which is crazy to me! I can't go out anywhere without someone asking for a picture. I love my fans for that though.
9. You have spoken about getting bullied at school by the other kids because of your high speaking voice. Well, we certainly have something in common...I was teased as well for my high voice and sometimes I still am, but now I'm able to brush it off unlike when I was growing up. There have been so many kids over the years who could not cope with being bullied and have taken their own life. What has kept you going and not give up? Since being a finalist on The Voice, do the bullies treat you any different or have they tried to apologize for teasing you and if they did try to apologize, did you accept their apology or feel like, "well, you shouldn't have teased me in the first place, so I won't accept your apology?" How do you react now when someone makes fun of your speaking voice? Is it easier to shrug off? I have a very strong foundation and people that love me. They taught me to not give up on anything you love, that includes yourself. Of course people treat me differently now than they used to. That comes with the territory. However, I know who my family is. I have gotten an apology from one of the people that bullied me. I accepted her apology because I'm stronger now and I forgave her long before I was even on The Voice. Why hold grudges and give up your power like that. It's better to forgive and be free.
10. What is something about Wé McDonald that you have not revealed in another interview? I'm very superstitious. It's a family thing.
11. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day? I want to improve my entertainment skills in every aspect at least one percent a day.
Wé McDonald is a Paterson, New Jersey native born in Harlem, New York. She is a 17 year old scholarship student attending William Paterson University. She attended high school at the Passaic County Technical Institute with a concentration in Theater as an honor student. She was accepted to two prestigious University Jazz studies programs at William Paterson and The New School.
Wé's musical and arts training has been diverse and comprehensive as she has studied acting, dance and music. Since the age of six she has received piano and vocal and is currently a student at the Harlem School of the Arts (HSA) where she is an actor and vocal talent. She began her vocal and piano training in the classics evolving into a unique musical genius covering Jazz, Rhythm and Blues, and Opera.
In 2015, Wé appeared on the stage of the world famous Apollo Theater competing in the Amateur Night competition. She shattered records by winning four times as the youngest performer to place in the Adult category in the history of the legendary venue. Wé has also appeared as a vocalist at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Forbes Women's Summit, National Urban League Awards, Wal-Mart Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration, New York Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall, Minton's Jazz Club, internationally in the British Virgin Island and the Berklee School of Music with Paquito D'Rivera. She has acted in lead roles in theatrical adaptations of Man of La Mancha, 42nd Street, Disney’s The Lion King KIDS, and Annie.
Wé has trained at Diller Quaille School of Music, Dove Tail Studios for Acting, Chimera Concepts for dance, the Harlem School of the Arts for theatre, piano and voice under the tutelage of Yolanda Wyns, HSA Music Director.
She was the recipient of the 2015 Clive Davis Music Moguls Merit Scholarship and a Prep Student Merit Scholarship Award recipient for three years at the Harlem School of the Arts. She is a member of the Dorothy Maynor Singers and featured vocalist on the HSA All-Stars’ 2015 album recording, Evolution, showcasing music prodigies in the Jazz genre. She has been recognized as "Talent of the Week" in Tween Girl Style Magazine and Macy's Best New Vocal Talent 2016.
Most recently, Wé received national recognition as a finalist on Season 11 of NBC’s The Voice where she wowed audiences as well as celebrity coaches. Her debut single, "Wishes," is available now on iTunes.