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Santa Rosa teen Dallas Caroline chasing music dream after 'The Voice'

Last March, when Santa Rosa teenager Dallas Caroline first sang for a television audience of millions on NBC’s “The Voice,” the show’s celebrity coaches kidded her gently about looking a little nervous.

“I came off as nervous at first on TV because I’m kind of shy,” she says now, “but I was really more excited.”

She was only 17 then and still is, but today’s Dallas Caroline, who will move to Nashville shortly after her 18th birthday Aug. 19, displays some of the polished, professional poise and confidence of a much more seasoned singer.

“I feel like Ilearned to trust myself a little bit more. It’s definitely intimidating to walk into a situation like ‘The Voice’ with all of the talent, the coaches and all of that, but it was validating to even be on the show to begin with,” Caroline said. “It definitely boosted my confidence.”

Performing for star coaches like Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, Alicia Keys and Kelly Clarkson was a challenge, but also a thrill, she said.

No, she didn’t win the season 14 competition, and she only stayed in the running until early April before being bumped out of the contest, but she did what she set out to do.

“I feel like my goal going into the show was just to grow as much as I could, make connections with different people and get my name out there,” said Caroline, who shortened her birth name - Dallas Caroline Duenas - for her singing career.

Lining up gigs

She’s already reaping the benefits of her “Voice” connections. She performed Saturday with another contestant from her run on the series, Jaclyn Lovey of Placerville, at the HopMonk Tavern in Novato.

The show was the first of several Caroline plans to do before her Nashville move, including the July 14 Windsor Chili Cook-off and a July 22 performance at the HopMonk in Sebastopol, as a thank-you to local fans who supported her during her time on “The Voice.”

“I’ve had people come up to me in public and tell me they saw me on the show, and I’ve gotten messages on Instagram and different social media from people who live in Sonoma County.

“Because of ‘The Voice,’ I’ve gained a local following, which is something I didn’t really have before, and that’s super important to me, because I was born and raised in Santa Rosa.

“So to have the support from my hometown means the world to me,” she said.

Last month, Caroline sang the national anthem for the hometown crowd at the Country Summer Music Festival at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds. “I’ve done that for the past three years now,” she said.

Anthem at Giants game

The national anthem is one of her specialties, and she also has sung it at the July 4 Red White and Boom at the fairgrounds in 2012 and at a San Francisco Giants game.

Caroline credits her grandparents for fostering her interest in music. She has wanted to be a singer since age 8, and learned to play guitar and piano when she was 12.

A homeschooler, the aspiring country singer finished her high school education last summer, shortly before starting her way through the audition process for “The Voice.”

During the time since she left “The Voice,” Caroline has been in and out of Santa Rosa, collaborating on original tunes with several songwriters in the Los Angeles area, and performing for the second year in a row at the Country Music Association Fest, held earlier this month in Nashville.

Nashville festival

“The country music festival in Nashville is probably one of my favorite stages I’ve ever performed on, because it’s just such an honor to be at that festival and have my name next to all of these major country music superstars,” she said.

“Right now, I’m working on my songwriting, and I want to record my original songs, probably when I get back to Nashville, and hopefully release some original music soon.

“That’s definitely my plan, and I’ll be playing some originals in my upcoming shows in Sonoma County,” Caroline said.

She’ll also sing her audition song from “The Voice,” Willie Nelson’s classic “Always on My Mind,” at her local shows.

Then in late August or early September, she’s headed for Nashville to pursue her dream.

“I have some friends there from ‘The Voice,’ which is cool. I definitely got to meet a lot of people who live in Nashville through ‘The Voice,’ so I feel like I have some friends that I’ll get to write songs with,” she said.

“I feel like, being in Nashville, it’s just important to get your name out there, and write with different people and do shows with different people.”

You can reach Staff Writer Dan Taylor at 707-521-5243 or dan.taylor@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @danarts.

Dan Taylor

Arts & Entertainment, The Press Democrat

Do you take fun seriously? I know I do. Tell me what you want to know about arts and entertainment in the North Bay to make the best use of your leisure time and money. As a longtime local arts journalist, I have learned where to look and who to ask.

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