From growing up the oldest of six kids in a tight-knit Elma family to performing on one of music’s biggest stages on NBC’s “The Voice,” singer songwriter Ericka Corban has come a long way since she first decided to pursue music as a career just seven years ago.
Corban, 31, announced Saturday she had made the cut after the long and grueling audition process for the popular music competition show. While how much viewers may see of Corban, who currently lives in Hoquiam with her husband and four children, is up in the air, a visit from an NBC film crew to her home could point to some serious air time when season 12 premiers Feb. 27.
“It’s not even guaranteed my audition will air, but it’s a little more likely since they sent a film crew out to my city, my home,” she said.
While she is the only one among her siblings that showed any real interest in music, it was during her younger years when she discovered the power of it.
“Growing up I listened to a lot of country music and contemporary Christian,” she said, citing Grammy-winning Christian artist Steven Curtis Chapman as an early influence. “Then as I got older I started experiencing new kinds of music and fell in love with Frank Sinatra and French café music. I just discovered all these other genres of music I had never listened to before, and it was about that time I decided to pursue music professionally.”
Corban can’t point to any one defining moment that led her to make the leap into a career in music, but her overall love of music drove her to do just that.
“I’ve always been a music lover and deeply moved by music,” she said. “And then I really connected with the lyrics. I didn’t have any other passions that really deeply moved me like music.”
Her own songwriting comes from many different places.
“It’s interesting, being a songwriter. I like to tell stories with my songs, so people that know me sometimes wonder where I pull my inspiration from,” said Corban. “A lot of times I write from other peoples’ perspectives. I’ve found a lot of inspiration from my own friends and family.”
The writing process varies from song to song, “whether it’s music first or lyrics first,” she said. “I write a lot of poetry and sometimes put that to music.”
Corban says some of her personal favorites pour out of her in just a matter of minutes.
“Sometimes they just come. Some of the best songs I’ve written in 15 minutes,” she said. “It’s like I’m downloading it, like I’m digging up an ancient treasure.” She adds, however, that the best songwriting grows from inspiration but is finely crafted and shaped over time.
Performing itself poses other challenges.
“Seven years ago, before I really launched into music professionally, I was asked to open for some national acts at the D&R Theatre,” said Corban. “That first night I was literally hiding in our bed and too scared to do it. My husband dragged me out and said, ‘You committed to this, you have to do it!’ And I’m so glad I did. Since then I’ve played at the Westport Winery and other random places and slowly gained my confidence from there. I still struggle sometimes but am feeling more confident as I go.”
But nothing she’sexperienced so far could compare to the enormity of the stage on The Voice. The audition process alone was grueling. The show holds open auditions each season in a few cities across the nation, but also takes audition tapes.
“I couldn’t afford to go to one of the cities so I sent in a video last summer,” said Corban. “A couple of months later I was asked to come up to Seattle for an audition. I got called back and was flown to Los Angeles, put up in a hotel for four days and did an executive audition in front of all the producers of the show. That was very scary.”
Of the 40,000 hopefuls who auditioned, Corban was selected as one of fewer than 100 to perform the “blind” audition on the show. These are the auditions you see on the show, where the panel of judges can’t see the performer, just hear them.
By the time it was Corban’s turn to perform the blind audition she had so thoroughly prepared herself by going through every detail in her mind it was almost as though, by the time she hit the stage, she had already done it before.
“I just visualized it over and over again, standing on the ‘X’ right where they said to stop, and I nailed it,” she said. “I wasn’t nervous. It was a gift from God. I was just praying I could do it without totally crumbling like I thought I would. That was the biggest thing from this experience; proving to myself I could do it.”
While the preparation and performing centers around Corban and Corban alone, she said it was a combination of faith and the love of her family that made the entire experience possible.
“If I could thank anybody I would first thank God for the gift of music. I’ve realized so much in the past few years how much of a gift it is,” she said.
Her husband of 10 years, Mattaniah, found himself a single dad for the month his wife was in Los Angeles realizing her dream, working full time and taking care of the kids: Keziah, Mordecai, Titus and Levi. “I owe everything to him. I couldn’t have done any of it without his love and support.”
Whether we’ll see her or not on network television isn’t a given, but there are several gigs locally where you can enjoy Corban’s original music. She has a Valentine’s Day show at the Rediviva Restaurant in Aberdeen, and a March 14 show at the Ocean Shores Roaster. A schedule of her shows and links to purchase her two albums can all be found on her website, erickacorban.com.