Soulful R&B singer Yolanda Barber says she will return to audition for “The Voice” next season, despite not being chosen as a contestant for the current Season 3.


“I think at least one judge should have turned around for me, but it wasn’t in God’s plan for me right now,” said Barber a 55-year-old Highland Park resident who has more than 40 years of singing experience to her credit. She worked as a singer on Carnival Cruise ships for 10 years before being laid off in 2010.

“The Voice” is a vocal competition, which debuted in April 2011 in the United States. It originated in the Netherlands as “The Voice of Holland” in 2010. Contestants are aspiring singers chosen from a series of public auditions. Coaches listen to the singers without seeing them and turn their chairs around to prove that they are interested in placing the artist on their team of 16 hopefuls. The coaches develop the singers’ talent by giving them advice and sharing their success stories. The winner of “The Voice” wins $100,000 and a recording contract with Universal Republic Records while the winning judge earns bragging rights.

Barber auditioned for the popular music reality television show on Sept. 25. The 55-year-old who was born and raised and still resides in Highland Park, sang a compassionate version of Oleta Adams’ 1990 cover hit “Get Here.”

“‘Get Here’ is a beautiful song. The producers chose it for me. I wouldn’t have chosen it for the blind audition, maybe a battle round,” said Barber.

Surprisingly, none of the four judges—Christina Aguilera, Cee-Lo Green, Adam Levine or Blake Shelton—turned around for Barber.

“I like Chaka Khan and old school R&B. I was hoping that Adam or Cee-Lo would turn around because I think we could’ve done great music together,” Barber said. “Adam is so hot and he gave me a hug afterwards. ‘The Voice’ was—and still is one of my favorite shows. I have watched the show after my audition and I will continue to watch it.”

After Barber finished her heartfelt song, the judges turned their chairs to see the disappointed contestant and Aguilera said: “At this point in the game we’re all forming our teams and look for a specific sound.”

Barber, who was the oldest contestant to audition for “The Voice” this season, believes her age may have been one reason she was not chosen as a contestant.

“They were probably looking for something more youthful because that’s what they cater to,” she said. “I thought I’d go further in the competition since I did three auditions—an initial audition, a call-back and the blind audition.”

To her surprise, Barber noticed that “The Voice” viewers from around the world were angry because she was not chosen as a contestant on the show.

“It’s all over the Internet. People all over the world—Japan and Germany—have said they are angry because I wasn’t picked. I appreciate that so many people were angry. It made me feel real good because I was upset. I didn’t show it on the show. but when I got back to my hotel room—I auditioned in New York—I let it out,” she said.

Barber got her start in the music business as the opening act for disco powerhouse Cheryl Lynn. She went on to sing backup for the velvet-voiced Luther Vandross.

“Those were amazing experiences I toured with Cheryl Lynn for a year while I was living in Los Angeles,” said Barber who returned to Pittsburgh after having two sons. She drove a school bus from 1995 to 2001 when she began singing on Carnival Cruise line.

“Singing is everything for me. I can leave all of my troubles on the stage,” she said.

With her dream of being on “The Voice” now deferred, Barber is not sure what her musical future holds. But she is determined to audition for the show again next year.

“People are putting packages together and are trying to make things happen for me. I am choosing other songs that I can do during my next audition. I hope to get to do a CD one day, that would be a blessing and I hope to do a national anthem for the Pittsburgh Steelers,” she said.

In the meantime, Barber is trying to maintain her daily life.

“I can’t drive the bus anymore because of health problems and I am doing local singing gigs here and there. I am just trying to pay my bills right now. I’m struggling a bit,” Barber said.

Despite her troubles, Barber is optimistic about her chances to join the reality show in future seasons.

“The Voice” judges did what they do, but I believe the next season will work its magic,” Barber said.

“The Voice” airs on NBC Monday and Tuesday nights at 8 p.m.

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