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Wharton singer hopes to share gift (video)

By Jessica Rodrigo
Oct. 20, 2013 at 5:20 a.m.
Updated Oct. 21, 2013 at 5:21 a.m.

Tamara Chauniece Williams performs on stage during the blind auditions of "The Voice." She sang Beyonce's "1+1" to showcase her skills as an R&B singer.

Tamara Chauniece Williams was too far in the zone to notice when "The Voice" coaches turned their chairs around.

During the final episode of the blind auditions for the singing competition, she strived to captivate the audience and deliver an outstanding performance. Shortly after she began to sing Beyonce's "1+1," Christina Aguilera turned her chair around, and the crowd roared. A few seconds later, CeeLo Green flipped his chair and locked his eyes on Williams as she stood on stage.

"It was quite an epic experience. I was nervous out of my mind," said Williams, who grew up in Wharton and goes by the stage name of Tamara Chauniece. "I was completely and utterly amazed by the fact that those two individuals turned for me."

Backstage, Williams' mom, Sandra Williams, and older sister, Keledra Janae Williams, were holding their breath as they watched to see what happened.

"I know she is a dynamo singer, but I was just so nervous for her," said Sandra Williams.

When Tamara Williams finished the song, that was when the excitement set in for her mother.

When the time came for her make to a decision, CeeLo reached out to her and said they shared the same background. He was also raised by two parents who were ministers in his community, and she was raised under a similar roof in Wharton.

Seconds later, she chose to join CeeLo's team.

"There was something there with CeeLo. I just had to go with my heart and gut feeling," said Williams, 23.

Center stage at age 7

At 10 months old, Williams started singing jingles from commercials she saw on TV, her mom said. She remembered a Sprite commercial that had the line, "I like the Sprite in you," which Tamara Williams loved.

"I don't care where she was in the house, when she heard that Sprite commercial come on, she would come running and stand in front of the TV, and she'd do a little dance and sing," said Sandra Williams, 57, of Wharton.

For her older sister, it was normal to hear Williams singing all the time. She replicated gospel music she heard in the church and songs that their mom played in the house, Keledra Williams said.

"My favorite was when she would sing in the bathroom," said her sister, 32. "I would hold my phone near the door and tell people to listen to her sing."

Tamara Williams was invited to sing a duet at the church when she was 7 years old. Sandra Williams knew her daughter could hold a note, but it was the first time she sang publicly.

After that performance, Tamara Williams started singing at other events, fundraisers and concerts. She also sang in the school and church choir, learning how to harmonize with other singers and how to perform in front of audiences.

Tamara Williams had the dream of recording her first album when she was 11 years old. Her mom worked hard to make it happen, saving money and talking to people in the industry, and in 2002, the young artist recorded and released her first EP titled, "Higher Ground." It had four tracks and was sold around Wharton in all the mom and pop shops, Williams said.

When they traveled to and from singing gigs, her mom would tote around extra CDs and sell them from the trunk of their car, and Tamara Williams would autograph them for her growing fan base.

"It was so cool," Williams said. "I felt like a little celebrity."

When she got into high school, she focused on her studies and put her solo career on hold. She was a part of the choir and UIL competitions at B.F. Terry High School in Rosenberg and later moved to Denton to attend the University of North Texas, where she pursued a degree in broadcast journalism.

Earning a degree became a top priority for her, and she postponed her singing career. When she learned about "The Voice" auditions, she felt it was the right time for her to go for it.

"I knew I would always come back to my music, so there wasn't any question about it," she said.

A chance to battle

Before Williams hit the stage for her blind audition in July, she told her mom and sister she was a little nervous. The last time Williams had performed in front of a large audience was when she was 16, her mother said. But despite her hiatus from the stage during college, Sandra Williams believes her daughter will do great in the battle rounds.

"I think she will handle it well," her mother said. "She will be nervous, but I think it will come back to her."

Her sister will be ready at her home in Dallas with her friends to watch her "baby sissy" take on the other singers on "The Voice." She tries not to say her sister deserves to win but believes her younger sister has worked hard to make this dream of hers come true.

"I know she's poised and ready for competition," Keledra Williams said.

In the meantime, Tamara Williams will be doing what she's always done in her spare time, listening to music and jotting down lyrics to fill the shoebox she has hidden away in her Denton home. She has a shoe box half full of songs she's written, and she's waiting for a chance to share them with the world.

Though she doesn't want to be constrained to the genre of inspirational music, Williams hopes her songs will inspire those who listen to them.

"My main goal is to use 'The Voice' to share my gift with the world," she said.



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