UNT alumna Katrina Cain grows as singer from experience on “The Voice”

UNT alumna Katrina Cain grows as singer from experience on “The Voice”

UNT alumna Katrina Cain grows as singer from experience on “The Voice”
November 01
00:59 2018

Sitting in the beige room under the fluorescent lights, Katrina Cain’s audience is a classroom of jazz vocal majors. Each student looks at her eager to hear what she has to say. The UNT alumna talks into the microphone, and all eyes are on her — it is a position the 29-year-old is used to being in.

Just five months ago, Cain was singing into a microphone in front of Blake Shelton, Jennifer Hudson, Kelly Clarkson and Adam Levine for the singing competition show “The Voice.” She remembers the excitement she felt watching the big, red coaches’ chairs turn toward the stage. And when Kelly Clarkson asked her where she was from, Cain knew her answer — Denton.

“It was really cool,” Cain said. “I was really proud of this little town, and I was really proud of UNT. It felt cool to be able to talk to the coaches who knew where it was.”

The skills she learned at UNT 10 years ago helped shape her into the singer millions of people have been watching on their TV screens. Now, she is taking what she learned from “The Voice” to give back to the same program and continue pursuing her passion.

From UNT to “The Voice”

Katrina Cain, singer of the Denton-based band TOMKAT and UNT alumna gave a speech to current students about her time on “The Voice” and at UNT. Isabel Anes

Cain’s love for singing has been a part of her life ever since she can remember. Growing up in Guilford, Connecticut, she always felt connected to music and knew it was what she wanted to pursue.

“I’ve been singing since I was like four years old

and I’ve always known that I would be a singer,” Cain said. “It’s just what I’ve always done.”

When she was 19 years old, Cain transferred to UNT to study in the jazz program. While studying vocal jazz, she learned skills in the classroom about how to be a professional on the bandstand, lead a team and adapt to any situation. These skills helped build her up into the musician she is today as the lead singer of her band TOMKAT and a contestant on “The Voice”.

“[Katrina] took the things she learned as building blocks and then she really continued to develop and be her own teacher,” Rosana Eckert, principal lecturer of vocal jazz and Cain’s former professor, said.

When Cain graduated from the program in 2011, she did not originally plan to stay in Denton, but the ability to make a living by singing kept her here. Then, she met her husband Andrew McMillan, another UNT alumnus.

Cain and McMillan got married in May but had to put their honeymoon on hold when Cain received a phone call about auditioning for “The Voice.” Initially she said she was unsure about auditioning.

“You have to take every opportunity you can, even if it’s not necessarily something you think you would want to do or something you originally wanted to do,” Cain said. “In this business it’s just really hard to catch a break, so you just [have] to chase every path you can and see where it leads.”

Taking the big stage

The day of Cain’s blind audition was nerve-racking, but not because of the result — rather, she worried about just getting on stage.

“I tend to not really get starstruck or nervous,” Cain said. “I was [more] like, ‘Please just let me get on stage and sing a song, I don’t care what happens just let me sing, I’ve been here so long and we’ve been waiting so long, I’m just ready to go.’”

Cain remembers the moment clearly — the big, red chairs turned around for Team Blake and Team Jennifer signaling they wanted her on their team.

“When I saw the chairs turn I was like, ‘Oh, I’m in this thing,’” Cain said. “That was really exciting, and it was definitely cool talking to them and hearing what they had to say about my singing.”

At the time of her audition, Adam Levine and Kelly Clarkson’s teams were full so they were not able to turn for her. She sang a cover of “Rhiannon” by Fleetwood Mac.

“It was really true to her natural sound and it was so good,” Eckert said. “I burst into tears. I was laughing [and] was so happy for how good she’s gotten. It was really cool.”

Cain spent two months in Los Angeles taping and working on “The Voice,” however, her journey on the show ended in the knockout round.

“I was surprisingly pretty bummed about being eliminated,” Cain said. “I really wanted to make it further, and I really wanted to be able to show off what I can do. I don’t know I was really given a chance to show what I can do.”

She still considers the opportunity to perform on “The Voice” to be a victory.

“I’m really lucky to have even been able to be on the show to get three performances out of it and to learn what I did, so it’s still a win no matter what,” Cain said.

Excited for the next experience

Courtesy Mike Ferreira

Now Cain is looking ahead and is excited to keep pursuing her passion in Denton.

“At the end of the day that’s just a reality show and it lasts for a season  — career lasts for a lifetime,” Cain said. “That is what I care about: The career that’s going to last a lifetime. This was a great stepping stone.”

By being on “The Voice,” Cain opened up an exciting door to her solo music. While she was working on the show, her husband was working on making music for Cain to sing when she got back.

“It was kind of a rush for me to learn how to produce and compose music on my own to get a bunch of songs ready for her,” McMillan said.

With new music cooking, Cain is looking forward to creating new music once her contract with the show is over. The newlyweds are also excited about the future of TOMKAT and what is ahead for the band. Cain was even invited to speak to jazz students and share her experiences.

“It’s a cool experience, and I don’t think there’s any other UNT alumni that’s done this show, or any show I’m aware of,” Cain said. “I just wanted to be able to be like, ‘I learned so much about the industry, here let me tell you.’”

Instead of seeing it as a loss, Cain sees it as another experience toward making the music she is passionate about.

“Overall I think the biggest thing I learned from this is how to get back up again,” Cain said. “I have more to give, and I want to keep going.”

Featured Image: Courtesy NBC

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Rachel Linch

Rachel Linch

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