Two Marylanders battle on Team Reba on ‘The Voice’

WTOP's Jason Fraley salutes Marylanders on 'The Voice' (Part 1)

The state of Maryland has a double reason to cheer this month on Season 25 of NBC’s “The Voice.”

Marylanders Elyscia Jefferson and L. Rodgers compete on "The Voice." (Courtesy Casey Durkin/NBC)

Two Baltimore-area natives are battling it out on Reba McEntire’s team, as 35-year-old L. Rodgers just advanced on Monday night, while 20-year-old Elyscia Jefferson will compete again next Tuesday, March 26.

“Two girls from Baltimore, same team!” Jefferson told WTOP.

“We are both on Team Reba,” Rodgers told WTOP. “It’s insane.”

Now residing in Olney, Maryland, Jefferson grew up in Randallstown, Maryland, graduating from New Town High School in Owings Mills, Maryland.

“Right outside of the city, me and my family would go out to Baltimore City all the time like Fells Point and downtown every time if we wanted to get some food and stuff, so Baltimore is just really home to me,” Jefferson said. “Ravens fan, 100%. Everybody from Baltimore knows you have to be a Ravens fan. It’s ‘Go Ravens’ 24/7.”

Meanwhile, Rodgers grew up in Anne Arundel County attending Old Mill High School in Millersville, Maryland.

“My parents constantly took us into the city,” Rodgers said.

“My dad was a musician, so he was always playing in Baltimore. We would go to his gigs, we would always take the light rail in, we would go to Lexington Market. … Also, I went to Peabody as a kid, I did their preparatory program, so I was in Baltimore City every single Monday night. … I had waitressing jobs in the city. I was a singing server on the [Inner Harbor] cruise ship, the Spirit.”

This was Jefferson’s third time trying out for “The Voice,” singing “Blame it on the Boogie” for her audition tape.

“The first two times I didn’t make it, so this last time, I was like, ‘I don’t know if I want to do this again, I don’t think I’m gonna make it,'” Jefferson said.

“I got an email, a casting agent came to me like, ‘Hey, would you like to try out for ‘The Voice?’ I think you’d be perfect for it.’ I was like, ‘You know what? I’m gonna go for it and try it out,’ I sent some videos, they heard my singing and they liked it. After that, the rest is history, they just flew me out.”

As for Rodgers, this was their 13th time trying out, dating all the way back to Season 1 in 2011.

“In 2011, I went to the open call in New York,” Rodgers said.

“I did not get a callback from the open call, but … because they had my information on file from that very first audition, a couple seasons later, I got an email that said, ‘We’d love to hear from you.’ I got essentially a callback. … This happened a lot. I would get called in … but I never got called to L.A. … This happened 12 times, this time is the 13th time. 13 is a weird lucky number for me.”

Once in Hollywood, Jefferson performed Michael Jackson’s “P.Y.T.” to pass the blind audition round.

“I literally blacked out as soon as I realized some chairs turned,” Rodgers said.

“The first person that turned was Dan & Shay. If you re-watch it, it was so funny, literally they both looked at each other like, ‘Yeah.’ … Reba pretty much clicked her button as soon as Dan & Shay pressed their button. … Chance [the Rapper] heard one note and he was like, ‘Yeah,’ and turned around. It was so fun to see them grooving and dancing with me. It felt so surreal.”

Meanwhile, Rodgers performed The Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses” to pass the blind audition.

“You ‘couldn’t drag me away’ from these crazy dreams that I have,” Rodgers said.

“Reba turned and she waited until almost my last note! … At the very last second I see these lights that say, ‘I want you,’ at the bottom of her chair, then I see the chair turn around, then I see her beautiful face and she’s smiling this very mischievous smile like, ‘I know I waited until the last minute.’ I love her so much, but I was like, ‘Ma’am, you are stressing me out up here!'”

Since making Team Reba, they both say they’ve learned a ton from the iconic Reba McEntire.

“Working with Reba has been honestly a different experience for me,” Jefferson said.

“First of all, you don’t get to work with a celebrity artist any other day, but she honestly just gives the best, best, best advice, not only singing advice but life advice. That’s just really been the best part for me, just showing you how you should move in this industry and just guiding you in certain things that you wouldn’t get any other way, so that’s awesome.”

“Working with Reba has been, I hate to sound cheesy, I don’t have a better word for it, but it’s been a life-changing experience,” Rodgers said.

“I know that’s cheese city, but it really has. It’s completely reframed so many things for me as an artist and validated so many things for me as an artist. She is so focused, she knows exactly what she is looking for, she knows exactly how a song should sound, she knows exactly what she wants from you as an artist.”

If they each had to choose one Reba song to sing on “The Voice” what would it be?

“‘The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia,'” Jefferson said.

“‘Fancy,'” Rodgers said.

WTOP's Jason Fraley salutes Marylanders on 'The Voice' (Part 2)

Listen to our full conversation here.

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Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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