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Hofstra alumna Erin Willet finds her 'Voice'

By Katie Webb, Editorial Editor

Tick. Tick. Tick. The clock counts down the seconds. Time is running out.  The young woman only has one chance to make an impression. She walks out onto the stage with her signature mane of exploding curly hair that matches her powerful voice, but the judges can't see her. The only chance she has to get them to turn around is to mesmerize them with a siren song.  

As the clock runs out Erin Willett puts everything she has into soulfully belting the classic The Jackson 5 song "I Want You Back" to win her a spot on the singing competition "The Voice."

The show employs celebrity coaches Blake Shelton, Cee Lo Green, Christina Aguilera and Adam Levine. They have the daunting task of finding talented music artists for their teams without looking at the contestants. The coaches are seated facing backwards from the stage and must divine who will pass through the "blind auditions" without the hang-ups of vanity and appearance to hinder their choices. The competition is about pure vocal skill, something Willett is far from lacking.

Though she stomped out on stage seemingly fearless, the clock she heard ticking was not her own. As Willett fought to land a spot on the show, just backstage her biggest fan, mentor, friend, and subsequently her ailing father was right there with her. He is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Erin, Hofstra University alumna and former Sigma'cappella member, could have been consumed with fear confronting her father's illness as well as millions of viewers.          

She remained unshaken, saying, "I don't want to look at him as a dying person because he is still here. It is such a blessing to have The Voice to look forward to, and it gives my dad a chance to see me live my dream."

While performing on stage Willett's parents stood behind the scenes, enraptured. Her father stood almost paralyzed with his hands on his head, silently pleading the judges to turn a chair giving their daughter a chance.  

As the song swelled and Willett hit note after perfect high note time began to draw to a close. Blake Shelton finally turned his chair toward the stage, earning Willett a place on the show.

Willett earned her spot on his team, and will advance to the next rounds of the competition.  The judges all agreed she had an incredibly powerful voice but Shelton cut them off by saying, "You screwed up!" to them, ecstatic at having won her for his team.  

The man who brought Willett up on music stood backstage with tears brimming over in his blue eyes. When their daughter ran back to embrace them her only question was, "Are you proud?"

"Of course we're proud," her father replied with a glimmer of admiration in his eyes.

Her father time ran out far too quickly. He died shortly after, but Willett's dream lives on as she continues in her passionate pursuit of music. Watch "The Voice" on NBC at 8/7c on Mondays to support Willett and her burgeoning music career.

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