Seventeen-year-old Wé McDonald may have the chops to win the NBC’s “The Voice” this season, but she also has a special fan club. The Harlem School for the Arts has launched an all-out campaign in support of McDonald, a HSA alumni.
McDonald studied voice, theatre and dance at Harlem School of the Arts for 5 years and was a member of the school’s Dorothy Maynor Singers and the HSA Theatre Alliance.
“Wé is a part of the HSA family and this is her moment to shine. She sets a great example for all HSA students that with hard work and dedication they too can succeed,” wrote the HSA social media team in yet another push in support of the singing dynamo.
McDonald, a Harlem native, blew the judges away in her blind audition that made all four judges turn their chair. However she chose new judge Alicia Keys, who like McDonald faced tough obstacles growing up in New York.
“I was bullied for the longest time and I was ashamed of who I was,” McDonald said on the show. “I was an awkward kid,” she continued. “I had freckles, pimples, a lot of eye problems, a lot of pig tails, chubby — I wasn’t the cutest thing.”
“Wé” is actually Kenyan for diligence. It took diligence to survive those tough years, but her life changed around the 8th grade when she found the Harlem School of the Arts and music became her outlet.
She got thick skin just in time for her debut on Amateur Night at The Apollo. She appeared on the Apollo four times — and won four times.
The talented singer has garnered success on the show singing songs from a diverse mix of musical genres. McDonald credits the late singer Etta James as one of her biggest influences along with Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Janice Joplin and Billie Holiday.
At age 17, she is the youngest of the eight remaining contestants on the show. If she survives this upcoming week, she’ll advance to the semi-finals. Her competition is tough though. Worth checking out also is Ali Caldwell, a talented singer with years of professional experience. Caldwell skipped college to join Xhale, a three-person R&B girl group that opened for Boyz II Men and toured Russia with a successful jazz musician Oleg.