From the moment she walked on stage to audition for The Voice, Sydney singing teacher Bella Taylor Smith had the judges – and its massive audience — at “hello”.
It was August 8. All four judges on the reincarnated Seven smash hit reality TV show – Guy Sebastian, Rita Ora, Jessica Mauboy and Keith Urban – turned around, desperate to coach the 24-year-old Hillsong Church member with “the voice of an angel” after she sang Beyonce’s Ave Maria.
Wearing denim jeans and a simple cropped tie-waist blouse, her emotional performance saw her choose Sebastian – also part of the evangelical church movement – as mentor and coach.
But it was Urban who observed: “There are things that you’ve been through and I don’t even know what they are yet, but I could hear them, and I could definitely feel them. Beautiful.”
Urban was right. Fast forward to her preparation for a spot in the semi-final singing REM’s Everybody Hurts, and, with tears streaming down her Snow White complexion, she read out a letter from her father, who was in jail awaiting bail.
“Dear Bella, sorry it’s taken so long to write to you,” she read aloud, telling Sebastian she was in the process of helping him get his bail application through while also being on the show.
“I know it’s been so long since we had a normal relationship, but I believe you and I have a special connection. I believe we will always be able to pick up where we left off.”
Taylor Smith has two sisters, Gabby, 16 (for whom she is the primary care giver), and Sophia, 13, and had opened up on the show about her challenging family life and her father’s addiction issues.
“Every time we catch up I can see how well you have a handle on life. I’m so proud of you for going on The Voice, and what a great result when the chair turns … I’m prouder than you can ever imagine,” the letter read.
An emotional Mauboy thanked Bella for telling her story: “For so many who may be going through the same thing, it’s helping. It creates change and it heals people.”
“It’s really scary for me to be vulnerable and it feels really exposing to be singing words like this, but I feel like it would be good for me to show that on stage,” she said at the time.
Taylor Smith went on to win the big prize on Sunday night with Never Enough from The Greatest Showman (starring Hugh Jackman), securing $100,000, a recording contract with EMI Recorded Music Australia and a gig with Sebastian on his T.R.U.T.H. national tour next year.
Listen up, people. With a national audience peaking at 2.02 million during the announcement, the world’s biggest singing competition is back.
Speaking to The New Daily on Monday, Taylor Smith was still a little in shock after the whirlwind tour that is The Voice. Most importantly, her father got to watch it all unfold.
“He got to Zoom in last night, which was so sweet. He is in a rehabilitation facility awaiting his trial. He got bail, so we’re hoping it’s a positive outcome,” she said.
“All the boys were there with him, cheering on the screen. He was really proud, and I’m really grateful he got to half-experience it with me.
“We all deal with challenges and go through stuff and it definitely shapes and moulds the people we are. For me, my family are huge in my life and have defined parts of my character and the way that I sing.”
Taylor Smith is still coming to terms with the win and what it means for her future, after deciding to “give it a crack” after the application came up on her computer screen.
“I can’t really believe what is happening around me. It feels so long ago. To think back, and what motivated me to sign up and audition is crazy. I thought I’d give it a crack and look what has come of it.
“I never thought I wanted, or would pursue, a career in the music industry, but I have really grown in confidence and the belief in myself.”
She said her faith and being part of a church community were really important to her, and having Sebastian as a mentor was a “perfect fit”.
“We both share the same faith, which is so important to me. That is a huge defining part of my character,” she said.
As for the designer gowns and pants suits she wore for her performances, which was a packed 13 episodes down from 21 last year?
“The style team, not only are they incredibly talented, they are the kindest people. The majority of the outfits I wore were made by the women who work in the style team at The Voice,” she revealed.
During extended lockdowns for so many, Taylor Smith said everyone was just looking for “something to enjoy”.
“It was the perfect time for me, bringing light and love to the screen.”
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