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creative:impact - Angelina Nazarian has a voice for "The Voice"!

Angelina Nazarian
Angelina Nazarian
Angelina Nazarian

Creative industries in Washtenaw County add hundreds of millions of dollars to the local economy. In the weeks and months to come, host Deb Polich, the President and CEO of Creative Washtenaw, explores the myriad of contributors that make up the creative sector in Washtenaw County.

Creative Washtenaw CEO Deb Polich at the WEMU studio.
John Bommarito
89.1 WEMU
Creative Washtenaw CEO Deb Polich at the WEMU studio.


At the age of 18, Angelina has lived in six countries around the world due to her dad's job. As an expat, she's learned to adapt to new cultures, languages and schools. Most recently, she lived in Dubai and has been inspired by the city's culture. She's fallen in love with Arabic music and says it's influenced her sound. Music was always a constant, no matter where Angelina traveled. Whether she was on vacation in Thailand or at school in Shanghai, she'd find a place to karaoke or an assembly to perform at. The biggest crowd she sang for was a cousin's wedding of nearly 300 people. She recently graduated high school and has been accepted into Berklee College of Music and the University of Michigan.


The Voice


Deb Polich: This is creative:impact, 89 one WEMU's exclusive segment showcasing all things creative in Washtenaw County: the artists, creative workers, businesses and organizations. I'm Deb Polich, president and CEO of Creative Washtenaw and your host. So, how many of you have, even for a moment, thought about performing on stage for a national audience? Maybe in your dream you were a singer, the lead guitarist or drummer for a band. I would have been a backup singer. My dream never came true, but Angelina Nazarian's did. She recently appeared on The Voice and is here to tell us about her experience. Angelina, welcome to creative:impact.

Angelina Nazarian: Thank you so much for having me here.

Deb Polich: We're really glad you're here. And I first want to say congratulations for making it onto The Voice's stage.

Angelina Nazarian: Thank you so much. It was a really big dream come true. And I'm sitting here, and it's surreal to think about.

Deb Polich: I bet. I bet. So, let's get a little background. You were born in Ann Arbor and since have lived in six different countries, most recently in Dubai before moving back here recently. And I have to say--that's a whole lot of worldly experience for somebody who's 18.

Angelina Nazarian: Yes. 100%. I think shifting back and forth and living in all these different countries has made me the person I am today. So, I think that I credit that to how I am as a person, how I perform and my ability to adjust to the new environment on being on the show.

Deb Polich: And I would say, having watched you on the show, it seems to have given you a sense of confidence.

Angelina Nazarian: 100%. I think, in the entertainment industry and in being a singer, there's a lot that I didn't know. So, being on the show helped me get that experience.

Deb Polich: So, let's talk about that. How has your worldly experience influenced your understanding, appreciation and value for music?

Angelina Nazarian: I think that, when you move around a lot, the thing that you begin to have in the trade that gets stronger is your adaptability. And with music, you have to adapt to new genres, new styles, new artists. And in having that already through my moves, I'm able to adjust to new music really well and learn new techniques very quickly.

Deb Polich: And do you absorb? Do you learn the music from all these other countries?

Angelina Nazarian
The Voice
Angelina Nazarian

Angelina Nazarian: I do learn a lot of music in different languages. I think that it's good to embrace different cultures. But even the simple things, like the way I sing, is changed based on where I live. For example, in living in Armenia and being Armenian, I do more vocal riffs and runs when I perform.

Deb Polich: And Western music, the music that you sang on The Voice, how has that influenced, you know, in both of your appreciation, what you like to sing and what you wanted to perform on The Voice?

Angelina Nazarian: I think that, with Western music, I grew up listening to that, again growing up in Ann Arbor, Michigan. And even though I've moved around, English has been my first language. So, listening to Western music came easier for me. But I do think that in having the difference of the cultural music that I listen to whilst also listening to Western music, I can kind of put the two together. And it helps me sing them in a different way than the original artists.

Deb Polich: So, you recently moved back to Ann Arbor. How long ago?

Angelina Nazarian: I came back maybe two months ago.

Deb Polich: And you went on to The Voice when?

Angelina Nazarian: I was actually filming for The Voice for two to three months because it is a show, it's a process, and it takes a while to film. But I graduated high school. And then, in late July, I ended up going to film.

Deb Polich: Even before you were back here in Ann Arbor.

Angelina Nazarian: Yes.

Deb Polich: Oh, wow! Okay, great! And was this like a lifelong thing that you wanted to do? Seriously, how did you go from being a young artist of 17 years when you showed up on the stage, now 18, but to actually have the courage to go and audition?

Angelina Nazarian: I think that the courage in itself is in wanting to become a singer. I think that to say that you want that as your lifelong career is something that's already kind of unrealistic in this world. So, my courage came from being sure that that's what I wanted to do. Ever since I was nine years old, I did imagine being on The Voice. I used to make my sisters turn around. And I'd sing, and I'd say, "Turn around when you like it.!" So, I definitely had my moments where we pretended that I was on the show. And I think that it's that pretending or kind of faking it til I made it that made it happen. And me going up on that stage was something that I had already seen in my mind before. So, it just became my reality in the moment.

Deb Polich: Would you consider yourself self-taught, or have you studied?

Angelina Nazarian: I would consider myself self-taught. I didn't get a vocal coach until way later, but the ability to sing came to me naturally. I was nine years old at the time when I was singing "Listen" by Beyoncé in my room. And my mom came in and she said, "Was that you or Beyonce?" And then since that day, I said, "Okay, I guess I can sing." And I kept singing and evolving myself in anything musical at school. And I solidified that I wanted to become a singer since then.

Deb Polich: So, that's what you've done. 89 one WEMU's creative impact continues. Angelina Nazarian is my guest. She appeared as a contestant on the 24th season of The Voice. So, there you are. You go into this blind audition, which is what happens on The Voice. Do they give you any coaching before you go on?

Angelina Nazarian: You do receive a little bit of coaching. I'm not sure how much about the process I can disclose.

Deb Polich: Okay. Okay. That's good to know.

Angelina Nazarian: So, that's why maybe I don't want to give too much about the behind the scenes. But I will say that working with the whole team there at The Voice was amazing. They have a really good community, and the artists that I've met there are just amazing. I've learned so much there.

Deb Polich: So, you sang Kelly Clarkson's "The Trouble with Love Is" for your audition. And, rather quickly, two of those coaches, maybe unlike your sisters, buzzed the buzzer right away--Niall Horan and Reba McEntire. What was that moment like, and how did you choose your coach?

Angelina Nazarian: For me, when I was up there on that stage, I wanted to be really present and in the moment, but I must admit that I was not. I was really in my head. I could see the flashing lights. Everyone was there, so the music was coming out of me, and I was connecting with the lyrics, as I always do. But there was definitely this moment where when I got off stage, I almost forgot everything that happened. It was like a blackout moment for me. But when they turned around, that just helped me be so much more confident because it's really stressful up there. And the second that Niall turned--I know he turned first--that made me so confident. I was like, "I got this!" And as for the decision-making process, I've always presented myself as, although I'm a young artist, I've been very influenced by artists that have been here for a long time. My biggest icon is Michael Jackson. So, for me, when I had the choice to pick between Niall Horan and Reba McEntire, it only made sense to go with the legend that's been here since the eighties, so that I could get her mature aspect on things and learn a lot from her experiences.

Deb Polich: So, of course, she is a legend. And, you know, the audience gets to see clips of contestants working with their coaches. Can you tell us what we don't see on television and what it's like working with Reba?

Angelina Nazarian: The thing with Reba that I love a lot is that she's an empath. For her, singing isn't just something that is lyrics coming out of your mouth. She wants you to tell a story. So, in working with her, I got to connect with the more emotional side of myself and become a storyteller through my singing. And I think that her emotion is something that really guides her ability to write songs and sing songs. So, that's something that I learned from her. And I'm not only a singer, I'm a songwriter. And although I didn't show that side of myself on The Voice, I think that my ability to write songs is definitely helped by Reba's advice.

Deb Polich: And do you feel that her influence will stay with you as you go further?

Angelina Nazarian: 100%. I think that any piece of advice that I get, whether it's from a coach like Reba McEntire or whether it's somebody that I walk by on the street, I take it and I use it and I can use it to the best of my benefit.

Deb Polich: So, what about the total environment of The Voice? While you're there, do you get coaching on styling, or do you do much interaction with the other contestants or the artists?

Angelina Nazarian: Me and the other artists--we're all great friends and all very close. I think that because it's a show that shows it as a competition, it's nice to know that behind the scenes were actually all best friends, and I've made friends for life on that show, so I'm so grateful.

Deb Polich: And what about those artists, those legends? Are there people you can keep in touch with going in the future or probably not?

Angelina Nazarian: I think that if you have the personality trait that makes sure you keep connections with people, you can. And I believe I have that sort of personality. I never want to just have an experience with someone and move on. So, I made sure to create those connections and leave myself in a position where I always have people. But I do think that that's something that you run yourself.

Deb Polich: So, what's next? Well, I have to do this part. You didn't make it to the end, but you were there and it was really an amazing thing. What would you take from that experience from auditioning, being on the show and then being cut? I mean, music is all about making it sometimes and not sometimes.

Angelina Nazarian: Exactly. I think that you answered it there. I always went into it with the hope that I would be my best self on there. I would let the world know about me and just have my voice be out there. I did want to win, of course.

Deb Polich: Sure.

Angelina Nazarian: I think it's a good mentality to have. You always want to get the best. But being in this industry, I have always been aware that things don't work out. I could get cut. It's a competition. And I don't let it define me. I let it point out what I need to work on, and I'm only going to get better.

Deb Polich:Wise! And speaking of getting better, what's next for you?

Angelina Nazarian: I'm actually going to be attending Berklee College of Music in Boston.

Deb Polich: Oh. Nice.

Angelina Nazarian: And I will be majoring in professional music because I do want to become more well-rounded as an artist, and I think that the experience on The Voice will only help me settle in there better and have more to learn.

Deb Polich: And I'm going to suspect that you got your acceptance letter before you were even on The Voice.

Angelina Nazarian: Yes, I actually got both of them a week apart. So I'm like, "Wow! Top school and on The Voice. Let's go!" I was so happy.

Angelina Nazarian and Deb Polich at the WEMU studio.
Mat Hopson
89.1 WEMU
Angelina Nazarian and Deb Polich at the WEMU studio.

Deb Polich: That's great! That's great! Well, no doubt, with your poise and your voice, there are big things in your future. And we look forward to you keeping in touch with us and letting us know how it turns out.

Angelina Nazarian: 100%. Thank you so much.

Deb Polich: Thank you for being here. There's Angelina Nazarian, who, as a contestant on The Voice, recently wowed Reba McEntire, Niall Horan, Gwen Stefani and John Legend. Learn more about Angelina and see her clips from the voice at WEMU dot org. You've been listening to creative:impact. I'm Deb Polich, president and CEO of Creative Washtenaw and your host. Mat Hopson is our producer. Please join us every Tuesday to meet the people who make Washtenaw creative. This is 89 one WEMU FM Ypsilanti. Public radio from Eastern Michigan University.

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Polich hosts the weekly segment creative:impact, which features creative people, jobs and businesses in the greater Ann Arbor area.
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