Performing since childhood, Iowa State student EllieMae Millenkamp, senior in agricultural business, had never been so nervous when she took the stage of NBC’s singing competition show “The Voice.”
The first time Millenkamp tried to audition for "The Voice," she didn’t make it because of too many competitors filling the slots. It wasn’t the end for her, though, because in October of 2018, Millenkamp received an invite for a private audition to participate in season 17 of “The Voice.”
In February of 2019, she flew to Denver with three to four songs prepared to sing for the private audition. Her private audition earned her an interview, which lasted between 30 minutes to an hour and where production asked questions about her life story.
In June she flew to Los Angeles, where she would begin the audition process. Having been inspired by Kacey Musgraves, Millenkamp performed her song “Merry Go Round” for 15 million people watching her alongside her parents.
On "The Voice," four coaches recruit a team of musicians from blind auditions, in which they do not see the contestant while they perform. When a judge wants a contestant on their team, they hit a button, turning their chair around for them to see the contestant.
While Millenkamp was singing, she knew the four coaches had their teams filling up, so she was nervous about anyone turning around for her. With her luck, Blake Shelton was the one coach who turned around for her performance.
“I didn’t think he was going to turn while I was singing,” Millenkamp said. “I got super emotional because this was real life and started tearing up while singing and started crying after I was done.”
After Shelton became Millenkamp’s coach, she met up with him to prepare for the next part of her journey. Meeting around 10 times on and off camera, Shelton gave Millenkamp feedback and helped her prepare for her next performance.
“All of the coaches are really nice and have nice things to say,” Millenkamp said. “For example, they liked my tone. Blake pushed me out of my comfort zone and he was the first person to do that.”
Millenkamp did not make it past her second round of “The Voice,” but is thankful for her experience, which gave her confidence and helped her find herself. She made two best friends out of the show, both of whom are still moving forward with the season.
“Networking and friendships were the best thing that came out of it,” Millenkamp said.
Millenkamp was surprised by how the production team on "The Voice" is always working and running around to make sure things get done.
Millenkamp said her experience on The Voice is one she will always remember, and with her newly found confidence, it will help take her to the places she dreams to go.
Planning to finish her senior year as an agriculture business major, Millenkamp wishes to pursue music after school ends. She would like to move to a town full of music like Nashville so she can get her opportunities to share her passion for music. She also writes her own songs and would love nothing more than to continue doing what she loves after college is over.
From an Idaho small town, she grew up on her family’s dairy farm. Millenkamp's musical career first started when she was younger and her mom would bribe her with a toy in order for her to sing with the church. As she grew older, she continued singing for the church and eventually sang for her Christian high school.
Millenkamp is still connected with their faith, as she is involved with the Salt Company on campus and attends the Collegiate Presbyterian Church where she leads the worship on Sunday with a song or two.
When EllieMae first started at Iowa State, country music became her genre to listen and sing along to. Her music inspirations are country singers Marren Morris, Kacey Musgraves, Chris Stapleton, Miranda Carlisle and Brothers Ozborne.
Millenkamp’s music career didn’t start and end with “The Voice” because she already had her own career in Ames, having her own band with two others, electric guitarist Andseren Coates and drummer Sophia Steenhoek.
The three of them have played music at their church and at various gigs around Iowa, including bars, coffee shops, weddings, music festivals and private events.
Last year, Millenkamp performed with her band at Homecoming. This summer the band has booked fairs in Iowa and Idaho.