Music-business junior’s performance on ̵...

Music-business junior’s performance on ‘The Voice’ puts MTSU in spotlight again

MTSU was once again in the national TV spotlight as a current student sang her way onto season 13 of the NBC reality show “The Voice.”

Junior music business major Kristi Hoopes, a native of Parker, Colorado, made her first appearance Oct. 10 in one of the show’s “blind audition” episodes, when the celebrity judges decide each singer’s fate by listening to, without seeing, each one’s performance.

Kristi Hoopes

Any of the four judges can boot the contestant or ask her to join the judge’s “team” to be coached and groomed for a potential career as well as $100,000 and a recording contract.

Hoopes, a Dean’s List student at MTSU, performed Trisha Yearwood’s “Heaven, Heartache and the Power of Love” on the Oct. 10 episode, earning approval from judge Blake Shelton in less than a minute and subsequent nods from judges Adam Levine and Jennifer Hudson. Only judge Miley Cyrus didn’t choose Hoopes, but she enthusiastically praised the 19-year-old’s “really, really big voice.”

“I don’t think you’re a cookie-cutter artist,” Levine told the Department of Recording Industry student, while Hudson added, “I love your sass.”

Contestants who get the nod from more than one “Voice” judge can choose the team they want to join. Hoopes chose Shelton, saying “In my gut, in my heart and my soul, I have to pick Blake.”

She subsequently tweeted: “The hippie chick with twang has arrived, y’all. Let’s make some country magic, @blakeshelton! #TeamBlake #KHKountry #TeamKristi.”

On the episode airing Oct. 23, Hoopes was included in a brief montage of “battle” performances, where two artists from the same team sing a duet but only one can continue. She sang Martina McBride’s “Independence Day” with Shelton teammate Anna Catherine DeHart, and DeHart was chosen for the next rounds.

“What a wonderful journey this has been.♥️ Even though you didn’t see our #VoiceBattle, you can hear it on iTunes,” Hoopes tweeted after the decision. She noted that the competition was “the opportunity of a lifetime,” then vowed, “This hippie chick is just gettin’ started, y’all. Get ready for one Mile Hi Ride.”

You can watch Hoopes’ blind audition on “The Voice” below and get more information at her website,

This wasn’t the first time Hoopes found her way into successful musical competitions. She aced her third-grade talent show with her rendition of “These Boots Are Made for Walking,” which she says she’d loved since she heard Loretta Lynn’s cover of the Nancy Sinatra classic.

She received multiple writing and performance awards from the Colorado Country Music Association and took the North American Country Music Association International’s 2010 Female Entertainer of the Year and 2011 Songwriter of the Year trophies when she was 12 and 13 years old, respectively. In 2014, Hoopes won the inaugural Lyricord Songwriting Contest, earning a recording session at Grand Victor Sound, the legendary RCA Studio A, for her self-penned song “At Least It’s Something.” You can see that session below.

“I am so proud of Kristi, but I’m not at all surprised, because we have known of her tremendous talent for some time,” said Beverly Keel, recording industry chair. “Everything about her is impressive, from her music business knowledge and classroom performance to her poise, personality and musical understanding.

“We couldn’t find a better person to represent MTSU on this exciting national platform!”

NBC The Voice graphic webAuditions for the 13th season of “The Voice,” which airs two “seasons” a year, were recorded last summer and began airing Sept. 25. The pre-recorded “battle rounds” between the singers lead to live performance shows, and an audience-voted winner will be announced shortly before Christmas.

Hoopes joined a string of talented MTSU hopefuls who’ve performed on “The Voice” since it began.

Jonathan Wyndham

Kelley Duggan

In fall 2014, music-business graduate Kelley Duggan, who performs under her stage name, Jean Kelley, sang her way into the seventh season’s Top 20 before she was eliminated in the first set of the live shows. Then-senior commercial songwriting major Jonathan Wyndham had all four celebrity judges scrambling to add him to their teams in his audition but was sent home during the “battle round” competitions.

Austin Ellis

Kris Thomas


MTSU 2009 recording industry grad Austin Ellis made his “Voice” debut in spring 2014’s season six, and Kris Thomas, a 2008 MTSU psychology alumnus, reached the show’s top 10 in spring 2013.

Another MTSU alumnus, 2013 advertising/public relations grad Ben Briley, reached the top 11 on Fox’s “American Idol” in March 2013 before the audience and judges sent him home. Colton Dixon, who briefly attended MTSU as a music major, was one of the 2012 top seven finalists for the 11th season of “Idol.”

Ben Briley

Jonathan Allen

Curtis Holland

MTSU vocal performance major Jonathan Allen sang himself into the summer 2013 semifinals of “America’s Got Talent” at Radio City Music Hall before that opportunity ended.

Recording-industry major Curtis Holland tap-danced his way past hundreds of other hopefuls to make the Top 20 of Fox’s summer 2013 “So You Think You Can Dance,” but a shoulder injury eliminated him from the competition.

— Gina E. Fann (