As young as 3 years old, Shalyah Fearing of Hudson could be overheard singing renditions of her favorite pop songs during family car trips.
"So when she was 10, we put her in vocal lessons," said her mom, Crystal Thomas-Fearing, "to see what comes of it."
On Feb. 29, the entire nation got to see what came of it. In a blind audition for the NBC television show The Voice, competing among a talent pool of 40,000 people, Shalyah wowed judges with her rendition of V. Bozeman's What Is Love.
It prompted Voice coach and judge Christina Aguilera to stand up and declare, "You're all mine! ... The Voice gods are shining down on my chair today." Judge Adam Levine chimed in to tell Shalyah, "You have the voice of someone who is most definitely not 15."
The last few weeks have been a whirlwind for Shalyah, now 16. After being named a member of Team Christina, she and contestant Tamar Davis engaged in a vocal battle on the show. They sang the R&B classic Lady Marmalade, with a little coaching assistance from Aguilera and legendary singer Patti LaBelle, both of whom joined the contestants for a duet at the end of the practice session.
"It was so mind-blowing," Shalyah said. "There are not enough words in my vocabulary to describe the experience."
Tamar Davis won the vocal battle, and Shalyah was traded to Team Pharrell, headed by singer and producer Pharrell Williams.
The Voice competition does not signify Shalyah's first time in the spotlight.
"I've always had a love for music," she said. "You can express your feelings in so many ways."
She won her first talent show in Tarpon Springs at age 12 and was named the 2014 Teen Sensation winner at the Unifest music festival in Lauderdale Lakes. She took early voice lessons at Music Matters in New Port Richey and studies voice and drama at Patel Conservatory in Tampa, where she has appeared in Shrek and The Little Mermaid.
"I've taught her since she was 11, and she's amazing," said Dean Tidey, a Patel instructor and musician and producer. "Her voice has such power and passion and shows so much maturity. She's also very sweet and very focused on her music."
Audrey Siegler, theater director and teacher at Patel, agreed.
"Shalyah has raw, natural talent," she said.
One of eight children born to Darron Fearing and Crystal Thomas-Fearing, Shalyah is a member of a family band called Fearing Star.
"There are so many genres I like to perform," said Shalyah, who cites Alicia Keys, Whitney Houston, Etta James and Patsy Cline among her main influences. "Everything from classical to R&B."
Even as she plans to head back to Hollywood next month to compete on season 10 of The Voice, Shalyah Fearing has not forgotten her roots. She and Fearing Star will perform at one of their regular venues, Oasis Coffee Spot, 9213 Little Road in New Port Richey, at 8:30 tonight.
In the future, Shalyah hopes to attend the Juilliard School for the performing arts and to write more songs. For now, though, she is thoroughly enjoying her time on The Voice.
"It's just so amazing," she said. "I just keep thinking, 'Look at where I am.' "