Voting for Casey Weston
Local singer Casey Weston will perform live tonight (9 p.m.) on NBC’s “The Voice.”
Weston, a recent graduate of Gulf Coast High School, will be one of eight singing in the second episode of the semifinals.
Weston’s fans are gathering at Randy’s Fishmarket, 10395 U.S. 41 N, North Naples for a watch party.
The 18-year-old Weston is depending on the fans, as their votes will help decide the final eight in the competition, which awards $100,000 and recording contract to the winner.
Finally, Weston’s performance will be available on iTunes for $1.29 and every download will be counted as a vote.
The voting remains open through Sunday, June 19.
Celebrity coaches: Adam Levine, CeeLoo Green, Blake Shelton and Christina Aguilera
Next show: Tuesday night at 9 p.m. Eight competitors, from teams coached by CeeLoo Green and Adam Levine, will sing live on NBC. This is the last of the quarterfinals.
The next step: The top 16 will be whittled down to eight – two from each of the four teams. Fans’ votes will save one singer from each team and the coaches will be able to save one singer on their team.
The final eight will sing in the semi-finals where the fan vote will narrow the contenders down to four – one from each team.
The top prize: The winner will receive $100,000 and a recording contract.
Casey Weston could only feel her feet.
For “The Voice” contender and local singer, this is how she remembers her first night in Nashville.
Two years before appearing on the NBC talent show, a 16-year-old Weston and her mother, Toni, journeyed to Tennessee on spring break to see if she had what it took to break into the country music scene.
Coming off the high of winning a local competition, the mother-daughter drove the 860-mile trek straight through in an impressive 13 hours.
There ended up being a few minor hitches in their plan. Their hotel reservation didn’t start until the next night and a late winter storm had hit the Nashville area.
So sleeping in her Acura, with the snow falling along the Cumberland River, is how Weston started her country music career.
“The first night I ever spent in Nashville was in my car and I was freezing to death,” Weston said with a sentimental smile.
Weston’s career is now heating up.
With the beat of Pomp and Circumstance still giving her a reason to tap her feet, the 18-year-old embarked on the next journey of her career. Nine days ago, Weston graduated with her 2011 classmates at Gulf Coast High. The next afternoon, she boarded a flight to Los Angeles. Tuesday night she’ll perform live on NBC’s “The Voice.” Even though she’s one of the 16 remaining on the reality singing contest, she knows this will not be her final destination.
Weston will eventually be heading to where “The Family Tradition” is valued and “Friends in Low Places” are cheered. With her Taylor guitar in tow, she is willing to play in every honky tonk and speak easy in an effort to make it to the Grand Old Opry.
Weston lives for music. So she’s moving to — and not just visiting — the Music City.
“If you are passionate about music and you really want to make it, you have to immerse yourself in music and with people that are just as passionate as you are,” Weston says. “Because it pushes you to try harder and strive for more.”
Just packing up the Acura and moving to Nashville with no guarantees or jobs lined up sounds a bit ambitious for any high school graduate. Yet, Weston isn’t your typical teen.
Her bedroom walls are not filled with posters of pop idols or current movie stars. Instead, you’ll find antique piano sheet music and black and white sketches of Marilyn Monroe. Weston knows all about the negatives of Monroe, someone who died of a drug overdose at an early age. But in typical Casey Weston fashion, she finds the positives in the 50s pinup model and movie icon.
“She looks so free and confident,” Weston says of Monroe. “She did what she wanted to do and that’s inspiring.”
Weston has an air confidence reminiscent of Monroe. Don’t call her cocky but confident. It’s the kind of confidence you need to sing in front of the more than 12 million people who tuned into “The Voice” last week.
She says her older sister, Sundai, who plays volleyball at the University of Florida, has been a role model. She also credits her parents for letting her find her way — sometimes the hard way.
“My family has let my sister and I make decisions and make mistakes,” Casey Weston says. “And what is great is that they supported us when we fell down. So it wasn’t about punishments it was about learning. So I feel like I have learned a lot and I feel like I am open to learning more. When you realize that you are always going to be learning and you always are going to make mistakes. It allows you to embrace and view life with a different perspective.”
Sure her mother Toni Weston worries about her baby girl setting off on this journey, but she has confidence in the fact that she and her husband Dave have raised Casey to make good decisions.
“Casey has a good head on her and a strong moral compass,” Toni Weston said.
Mom also knows her little girl has a strong singing voice. Toni Weston first discovered her daughter’s talent while coaching a volleyball camp at Community School of Naples. Casey was only 5 or 6 and not old enough to participate in all of the drills. So Casey took to the microphone and ducked behind the curtains to entertain the camp.
“All of sudden you hear this big voice and you don’t know where it was coming from,” Toni Weston said.
“She would sing Brittany Spears or whatever was popular,” Sundai Weston said. “So she has been entertaining for awhile.”
Matt Nichols quickly discovered Casey’s talents as her music teacher at Poinciana Elementary. Nichols remembers a Golden Apple video called “Everyone has something to give,” where Casey stood out delivering the money line — “To Give” — in perfect pitch. He’s not surprised to see her contending for “The Voice” title.
“She was a natural,” Nichols said. “and this is a natural progression.”
Nichols also isn’t surprised to hear Weston will be chasing her dream. And when she is successful, which Nichols said is a given, he said it will not change her.
“If she is famous or not is irrelevant,” Nichols said. “Whether she makes it on ‘The Voice’ or not, she will be a big success.”
Weston started singing serious at the age of 13 and even gave up volleyball after playing her freshman and sophomore seasons on the Shark’s varsity squad.
She got her first gig at 16, filling in on a Friday night the Blue Monkey Bar in North Naples when the lead singer of a group found himself double booked. The $50 payday became the first of just many appearances at bars, coffee shops, fairs and festivals. She has since put out a self-titled album, producing 1,000 copies, and selling them for $10 at performances. Her stock of CDs is almost depleted and now she relies on iTunes as a place where fans can connect to her music.
By the way, her performance of Leather & Lace with “The Voice” contestant Tim Mahoney soared into the top 100 of iTunes right after the showed aired on NBC-2. Weston doesn’t know if she made any money from the tune. She doesn’t seem to care. The money isn’t what motivates Weston, even though it does help fill her closet with new outfits and her favorite – shoes.
“It’s never going to be about the money for me and doing something that I love to do,” Casey Weston says. “As long as I live comfortably and I have a well-rounded life. It is never going to be about money or fame. It will be about what I love.”
Weston admittedly is a hopeless romantic. She loves music. She loves lyrics. And she loves writing about romance and love.
Even though she’s only 18, Weston says she has plenty of experiences about the subject. She said her sister’s tumultuous high school romances provided fodder for some of her first songs. Now, she said Sundai’s love life with a steady boyfriend at college is too boring.
“You are too committed,” Casey told Sundai as she talked to her boyfriend on the phone.
But Weston is now drawing from her own bad romances with boys. She recently attended the Gulf Coast High prom dateless. After a three year relationship with a star athlete ended, Casey now feels the lyrics of her songs.
So just tell me what you want.
Weston sang the hook of the chorus of a song currently working on in her bedroom. Strumming her guitar, with Marilyn Monroe looking on, and notebooks scattered across her room, Weston belted out the rest of the chorus.
Is that enough? Is that enough? Is that enough?
Weston said she devours lyrics, which is why she is drawn to country music.
“It is about stories,” Casey Weston said. “It is a very intimate type of music that people listen to, to make themselves feel better, to have an outlet, to hear something they can relate to. Country music is more about the lyrics than any other music and I am a lyrics lover.”
Weston realizes she is beyond her years when it comes to experiences and life goals. She said she has a small group of girlfriends, but she feels like an outsider. Weston even admits it would be fun to work at PF Changs as a cashier with them and eventually head off to college.
But then music starts playing. She realizes it’s her true love. She realizes music is her future. She realizes this why she is on a different path than her girlfriends.
“My girlfriends work and shop and all they are worried about is ‘What dorm am I going to be in next fall?’ and ‘Oh, there are going to be so many cute college boys,’” Weston said. “I am thinking I am going to be on national television, I have to be prepared, I have to practice. I have all of things and I have to handle so much I am not at the same place as they are.”
Her friends are spending the summer tanning at the beach and will be heading off to college.
Weston is off to L.A. where she’ll be vying for a $100,000 first prize and a singing contract.
Then to Nashville, where she’ll bravely launch her career.
And regardless of what happens, Weston certainly won’t have cold feet.