Though performing on “The Voice” is a dream come true for 16-year-old Addison Agen, it is not the start, or the finish, of her musical journey.
Music has been a part of Addison’s life for a long time – her father, Morrison Agen, owns the Neat Neat Neat Records and Music store and her mother, Kristine Agen, is a music therapist.
“I had my first piano recital when I was 2,” Addison Agen said.
“[Music has] been the thing that’s kind of the driving force in all of our lives,” Morrison Agen said. “We’ve known Addison was very special since she was a little girl as far as music and her talent there and we’re just glad everyone else could see it too.”
Addison has participated in children’s youth praise bands and performed at hospitals and nursing homes with her mother.
But she wasn’t just performing music: She was also writing it.
Morrison Agen likes to tell a story of when Addison was 9 or 10 and asked him to give her a guitar lesson. After learning a handful of chords, Addison went off on her own.
“About half an hour later she calls me back up and she plays a song front to back with extreme proficiency and I was just blown away,” Morrison Agen said.
Because of Addison’s maturity in songwriting and also her youth, they decided to record her first album, “New Places,” produced by Morrison Agen as well as Jason Davis at Off the Cuff Studios in Fort Wayne.
Though she started the album at about 13, all the songs were written before then.
“I just think of stories around my family. At the time my parents were getting a divorce, which is a big part of anyone’s life…so a lot of it’s about that and just growing up,” Addison Agen said of her inspiration. “[Songwriting is] completely where I take out every single emotion and put it into something people can enjoy, even if it’s sad.”
Her parents weren’t the only ones to recognize her young talent, and it was actually an unlikely source that helped land her on “The Voice.”
“My Spanish teacher [Concordia Lutheran High School Lizette Pierce] emailed my mom and said, the last slot for open calls for Chicago is this weekend, do you want to sign Addison up?” Addison Agen recalled. “My mom, without asking me, said yeah, sure.”
The next day her mother told Addison they had signed her up “just in case,” but it was Addison’s decision whether to go.
“It had always been a dream of mine. I would act out [the judges] turning around, saying great things,” Addison Agen said. “I said, OK, you already signed me up, let’s take the jump. … It’s just a bunch of different people having faith in me and not even realizing this is always what I’ve wanted to do and what I’ve dreamed of doing.”
After an audition and a callback in Chicago, Addison was invited after about a month to fly to Los Angeles for an executive audition.
“It was my first time on a plane,” she said.
After making it through, she was called back a month later for the blind auditions, which local TV audiences saw Oct. 2 but which were recorded in June.
Addison sang Ray LaMontagne’s “Jolene” for celebrity judges Adam Levine, Miley Cyrus, Jennifer Hudson and Blake Shelton.
“Before I went on I was expecting to be so nervous, like throwing up and everything awful. But I was so calm; I was like, Zen. You just have to be,” she said.
As she performed, Levine’s chair spun around, signaling that he wanted her for his team. Shortly after, so did Cyrus’.
“You just have to believe you’re going to make it. … Inside I was like, I made it, I made it, I made it, I made it. I was freaking out but I don’t think you can really tell,” she said. Addison chose to be on Team Miley.
A subsequent episode that was broadcast Oct. 23 showed Addison facing off against 20-year-old Karli Webster, of Santa Clara, Calif., in the “Battle Round.” They sang a slow-paced take on Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” Cyrus chose Webster to advance. Then Levine and Hudson signaled a “steal” of Addison, who chose to continue with Levine’s team.
Naturally, Addison had to be mum about the results of the competition, but regardless of the outcome she still has a passion to continue forward.
“Throughout this whole thing I’ve met so many amazing people and connections and musicians and hopefully I’ll be going on tour with some of them maybe; we haven’t planned anything but that’s the hope,” she said. “Overall it’s just to give inspiration to young people, that’s hugely what it is, and to let people know it’s OK to express your feelings to everyone and not keep anything to yourself and it’s healthy to be aware of the things that you can do and share it because you’re given those gifts for a reason and it’s a waste to waste them.”