Team Joanna

Art+by+Emma+Frizzell

Emma Frizzell

Joanna Serenko on NBC's The Voice's Blind Auditions in February.

The coaches were in awe just by hearing her voice. They listened intently in their chairs for the next member of their team, ready to push their button. Thirty seconds in, one button is pushed, then two, then three. The chair lights up with the words, “I want you!” The audience and coaches are captivated by her voice. The fourth coach pushes his button, and soon everyone is on their feet. Her name is Joanna Serenko, an 18-year-old Kirkwood High School graduate, and a four-chair-turn was just the beginning of her journey on The Voice.

“The Voice has been amazing. I auditioned back in June and it’s been a very long process, but I auditioned for the first time and went through a series of auditions until I got to the blind auditions,” Serenko said. “Then there were a couple more auditions between that before I was up on stage with the judges. And that was amazing because I never really thought that I would get that far.”

I never really thought that I would get that far.”

— Joanna Serenko

Joanna auditioned a month after graduating from KHS. Prior to singing for a live studio audience, Serenko sang in the school musicals, vocal jazz ensemble and acapella choir. She also won the 2019 St. Louis Teen Talent Competition.

“All of us were sophomores or juniors and [Serenko] was the only senior. All of us were really energetic and nervous and she was just sitting there kind of cool in the corner. She really encouraged everybody,” Thaddeus Morgan, junior, said. “She was already doing stuff around St. Louis. A lot of jazz. When she was playing at the Teen Talent Competition, there was one moment when one of the ladies who ran the event was crying while she was playing ‘Valerie.’”

Serenko has also become close with her other teammates on The Voice. Morgan said Serenko is able to stay humble before performing and brings others together.

“It’s been a really amazing experience and an amazing team. I kind of expected this weird TV world where people are fake, but that was just not the case at all,” Serenko said. “Everyone is just so cool and down to earth, and NBC is just awesome. Universal Studios is incredible, to be there and be on stage and be in the wardrobe. It’s part of my life that I will cherish forever.”

Serenko has worked with three of the four coaches on The Voice. After the blind auditions, she was stolen in the battle rounds by pop singer John Legend and in the knockouts by country singer Blake Shelton.

Many network shows are broadcasting shows remotely, such as news personnel and late night, so it’s no surprise that the lives will be without the studio audience. The lives are when the top 17 can be voted on by texting and through The Voice app.

one of the ladies who ran the event was crying while she was playing ‘Valerie.”

— Thaddeus Morgan

“May 4 is when the lives start. They sent us a bunch of equipment to record from home and it’s been different and challenging because we’re all just performers and our job is to go on stage and sing, but now we’ve taken on lighting crew and other different aspects of setup and audio and visual. But it’s great because we’re learning a lot of valuable information to use in the long run,” Serenko said. “We’ve got it all set up in my basement, and I’ve done Zoom chats with my vocal instructor, and I’ve done a recording of the song that I’m doing for lives and it’s been cool.”

The coaches and host Carson Daly will be coaching and reacting to the performances from their homes in quarantine. The top 17 will be performing from their homes across the country.

“[The coronavirus outbreak] happened so abruptly, and I was like, “‘what is going on?” It is unfortunate that a lot of people are way more affected than I am. I’m not in school, I’m not a senior in high school looking forward to graduating and spending the last year with my friends,” Serenko said. “On the other hand, this is going to be probably one of the most iconic seasons of The Voice because we’re facing a challenge, but we’re also going to come back at it with some really cool stuff that I’m really excited for everybody to see.”

To actually be on the show is a huge milestone in my career and it’s going to be something that I can refer back to for the rest of my life.”

— Joanna Serenko

Serenko has often performed original songs in St. Louis and online. Her single “Best of Me” was released in September 2019 on all streaming platforms.

“I’m writing. I’m definitely using the time to do more individually with my own music,” Serenko said. “I can’t release anything until I’m off the show, but I’m working on content to release, which is exciting.”

All of Serenko’s performances from The Voice can be found on YouTube. After the lives start, how far Serenko makes it on The Voice depends on the viewers’ votes.

“The biggest thing that I’ve gained from being on The Voice is probably the confidence that I could do [a career in music] with my life,” Serenko said. “Because even though I don’t know what my plan is after college, I will say that I’ve gotten a full sense of confidence about what I have to offer as a singer. To actually be on the show is a huge milestone in my career and it’s going to be something that I can refer back to for the rest of my life.”

The lives air Monday, May 4 on NBC at 7 p.m. Central time. Voting is available on The Voice app and website. Be sure to tune in and help the KHS alum move on to the next round as she performs from the comfort of her home in St. Louis.