In the United States today, there are nearly 13.6 million single parents out there raising over 21 million children. Being a parent is a full-time job in itself. But many parents need some kind of passion in addition to the loving smile of their little ones. For Betsy Ade, it was music. It hasn’t always been that way. It wasn’t until college that she felt free enough to explore her interests. She came out to her family and began singing in her brother’s band. Later on, she met guitarist Joe Adamek and the rest is history.
Well-Known Strangers have been growing in popularity exponentially in the past few years. You may have seen them take the stage at Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair, or closer to home at Tuesdays at the Shell. If you aren’t sure if you have seen them or not, there’s this: they are the rock band with the cello player (not something you see everyday). Betsy Ade and Adamek started the band in 2015, adding Cameron Fair as the aforementioned cellist, Roger Gower, Jr. on percussion, and bass player John Kulas. Since then, the band has been proud supporters of the LGBTQ community and the fight against human trafficking and cancer. In 2017, the band released the full-length album “Aligned,” which is available on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, and Pandora.
Well-Known Strangers might not be gangster rap, but they aren’t exactly children’s music. So why are so many kids in the Kenosha area cheering Betsy on? Well, she may be a rock star by night, but by day she is Ms. Ade – a mild-mannered substitute school teacher for the Kenosha School District.
“I have lot of little kids that are loving the fact that they have a musician for a substitute teacher,” she said recently on “The Voice.”
From the stage to the small screen
Betsy’s journey to “The Voice” began last summer when she auditioned for the show in Chicago. The producers took notice and invited her to Los Angeles for a closer look.
“I flew out there and performed two songs in a big room,” she said in an interview. “That was thrilling, just thrilling. I got out there, and I did it. I was just happy to be able to do it.”
Betsy spent weeks in LA preparing for the big showdown – performing in front of judges Kelly Clarkson, Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, and John Legend. In an interview, Betsy said she was very impressed with how NBC treated their guests.
“They hook you up with a vocal coach to help you. They really set you up for success. They are really nurturing and wanted to prepare you for the biggest night of your life.”
Singers on “The Voice” start off with a blind audition which rings true to its word. The judges sit with their backs to the performer and judge the person on the stage based on their voice in lieu of their appearance and character. For a show called The Voice, this seems like a pretty good idea. During Ade’s performance of “Hunger” by Florence + The Machine she got two judges, Legend and Levine, to turn their chairs, meaning the singer will advance to the next round.
“I felt your power,” Legend said. “I felt your energy. And when I turned around and saw you, this charisma, I loved the way you dressed, I loved your haircut, I loved your vibe… Betsy belongs on this show!”
If you are curious as to how the songs are picked for the show, Betsy delivered a bit of behind-the-scenes info.
“They gave us songs to choose. I had picked about 20 from that list. I’m a huge fan of Florence,” she said.
After she passed the Blinds, she had to pick one of the judges to be her coach through the training process. She said the obvious pick was John Legend, the first judge to turn his chair and throw his hat in Betsy’s ring.
“He changed my life in an instant,” she said. But she also had another reason. Her 10-year-old son Talynn is a huge fan of the singer. Of course, “The Voice” was filmed months ago and Betsy and her family couldn’t tell anyone what happened at the audition. A secret that big must have been tough on a 10-year-old boy.
“I was just thinking (that telling someone) could disqualify my mom, so I’m not going to take any chances,” Talynn said in an interview.
“It’s been so hard to keep this a secret, but now I can tell you. I AUDITIONED FOR @NBCTheVoice!!” Ade tweeted on February 7th.
While working with Legend, Ade’s positive opinion of him just continued to grow, describing him as “very chill.”
“He really lets you do your thing and lets you celebrate your different style and allows to continue doing that but has great advice vocally.”
Kenosha – a pool of great talent
Our area is a hotspot! Betsy is the second Kenosha County singer to appear on “The Voice.” Megan Ruger of Twin Lakes appeared on the show’s sixth season in 2014, and fellow Wisconsin natives Hannah Mrozak and twins Andi and Alex Peot have had successful runs on “The Voice.” For Betsy, she knows she couldn’t have gotten where she is today without some help.
“I couldn’t do it without the support of my family!” Betsy said proudly. Her family includes her son, Talynn; her girlfriend, Chantel; her parents, Karen and Ken; and friends Alyssa and Jessie.
As a community, we have no idea just how long Ade will stay on the show. The Blinds are done, all the competitors are set with their coaches and it’s time for the Battles part of the show. Each coach has a team of 12 singers. For the Battles, each team will put two of their singers against each other. From there, the rules get a little complicated, just tune in to NBC on Monday and Tuesday nights as we continue to enjoy Betsy Ade’s incredible adventure.
Tune in to Happenings Q&A on Wednesday, March 27th at 1:30 p.m. central when Betsy Ade, joins the show live to reveal everything she can about her time on “The Voice.” Our show airs on AM1050 WLIP and streams live online at www.wlip.com.
By Jason Hedman, originally published in Your Smart Reader magazine.