ENCINITAS — Encinitas teen Kat Hammock keeps movin’ on up on the television singing competition “The Voice.”
Hammock is now in the top 13 after she was voted through by viewers Nov. 12.
The top 20 contestants — five from each coach — performed Nov. 11 in the first live shows of the season, during which viewers were finally able to vote for their favorites. Until then, the contestants’ fate had solely been in the coaches’ hands.
On the Nov. 11 show, the 18-year-old performed a haunting rendition of “God Only Knows” by The Beach Boys and received a standing ovation from all four coaches.
“I could not be more proud right now,” her coach Blake Shelton said after her performance. “I’m telling you I have known about this since the first time I heard your voice. America, if she does not get voted through tomorrow you need your head examined. This right here is one of the most unique human beings I have ever worked with on ‘The Voice.’”
Before this week’s live show, Hammock had moved seamlessly through each round, beginning with the Blind Auditions in September, followed by the Battle Rounds in October, where she edged out her 16-year-old teammate Josie Jones singing a duet of “Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver.
“She’s amazing and she was so different from me, too, that I had no idea what was going to happen because you can’t even compare us,” Hammock said of the pairing in a phone call last week.
After that it was on to last week’s Knockout Round, where she went toe to toe with her teammate Lauren Hall. Hammock sang “Kiss Me” by Sixpence None the Richer, while Hall sang “Breakaway” by Kelly Clarkson. In the end, Shelton named Hammock the winner.
Hammock dedicated the performance of “Kiss Me” to her mom, saying on the show her mom sacrificed everything for her and her four siblings.
“This song, I grew up with it, my mom would play it over and over and over again. Like, that one, and ‘Aubrey’ by Bread are her two songs,” Hammock said. “I couldn’t not sing it for her.”
She said her mom was so excited and called her crying after the show aired last week.
Hammock said since the show has started airing, she hasn’t been recognized yet, but her mom has.
“My mom has gotten recognized three times … they’re like, ‘Are you Kat’s mom?” Hammock said. “I’m like, I’ve never gotten recognized, but my mom got recognized.”
Hammock said the day after she was first featured on the show, a stranger did stop her while she and a friend were at Better Buzz Coffee in Encinitas.
“Somebody walked up to me and said, ‘Are you the girl that sings at St. James?” Hammock recalled laughing. “And, I’m like, I was on ‘The Voice’ literally last night, but, yes, I am the girl that sings at St. James. It was so funny; I’ve never been recognized for singing at church before and then all of a sudden the day after I’m on national TV (I am).”
Throughout her time on the show, Hammock has appeared to be a standout, even according to the other coaches — John Legend, Gwen Stefani and Kelly Clarkson. After her knockout performance, Legend called her performance “a revelation” and Stefani said she is one of her favorites on the show. After Hammock’s performance on Nov. 11, Stefani said to Shelton, “You’re so lucky, I’m so jealous.”
Hammock said hearing comments like those has helped her with her confidence.
“The main thing that I’ve learned is that I think I’m better than I thought that I was. I never thought I could get here,” she said. “And I never really had the confidence to go out and perform a whole lot, because I sing a lot at my church and that was about it. This whole experience has given me so much confidence hearing the feedback from people who have made it so far in the music industry.”
Hammock said meeting mentors like Darius Rucker, who helped Shelton’s team out during the Battle Rounds, and Taylor Swift, who was brought in to help out the contestants for the Knockouts, has also been encouraging.
“(Swift’s) coaching was actually so helpful, everything she said was spot on,” Hammock said. “Oh, it’s amazing, I’ve grown so much.”
One pro tip she’s trying to adhere to: staying off of caffeine and dairy, which is bad for a singer’s voice. It’s a tricky one, she says, because she loves to drink coffee with milk in the morning.
“I’ve been trying to convert over to tea,” she said.
Next up for Hammock is another live performance Nov. 18, after which the group will be further whittled down to 11.
“I cannot believe that I’m still here and I’m in this and this is happening,” Hammock said. “It’s totally crazy.”
Tawny McCray is a native San Diegan and graduate of San Diego State University. She has known she wanted to be a journalist since writing for her Jr. High School newspaper in 1991. She has worked at The Star News in Chula Vista, The San Diego Union Tribune and ABC 10News San Diego. She has recently freelanced for Scripps Ranch News and The Poway Eagle and is a longtime freelancer with creators.com. She is working on authoring books with her twin sister, Nyla. She and her husband have two kids and live in South Park.