PRINCETON — Ryan Stone was singing before he could piece together full sentences.
The 17-year-old started singing about 15 years ago, and that lifelong love of music is leading him to an audition for NBC’s “The Voice” on Feb. 16 in Nashville, Tennessee.
The popular television show is hosting open-call auditions at the Music City Center where Stone and other hopefuls will perform for producers of the show.
Stone’s dad surprised him in early December by telling him had signed him up for the February audition. It was going to be a Christmas surprise, but he wanted to give Stone more time to prepare his material.
Stone has done some research on the requirements and will have two songs prepared — one to audition with — and one as a backup if the producers want to hear anything else. He will also have to perform his song acapella, with no backing tracks or instrumental/vocal accompaniment.
“Yeah,” Stone said with a laugh, “That’s kind of scary thinking about it now.”
The Princeton Community High School senior has been watching singing competition shows since he was a child, hoping one day to be on that sort of stage.
His mom is a music teacher, so music has always a part of his household, but it was actually his dad and neighbors who first told her he was singing.
Stone said he was always too scared to sing for his mom, but after it was brought up to her she placed him and his siblings in a Hosanna Homeschool Choir.
“That’s where music really hit home for me,” he said.
When Stone transitioned to public school at the beginning of fifth grade, he said it was initially a negative impact on singing for him.
He fell away from singing for a while until he grew into himself and gained confidence. He posted his first singing video in 2011 and competitions became a part of his life in middle school.
He’s participated in Indiana State School Music Association competitions, PCHS choir, Marching Tigers, theater and other activities that have led him in front of an audience or onto a stage. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t nerves associated with performing.
His family and friends are supportive of his desire to audition and have wanted it to happen for a long time. But he said he was nervous and competitions can be scary.
This means he often takes the plunge on nerve-wracking things with the help of something he calls “1,2,3 just do it.”
“If I’m feeling scared or nervous I’m just like, ‘Ryan you can do this.’ Then I count to three and I just walk out there and I make myself do it,” Stone said. “The hardest part of anything is starting it, I feel. So if I can just start it, I can finish it.”
Stone’s goal is to do more than finish the audition, as he hopes to have a spot on the show at the end of the process. But recognition of his voice would mean a lot as well.
“That would be absolutely everything in that moment to me,” Stone said. “I can’t even describe. Even to just be thought of, ‘Oh my gosh, he was really good.’ That would be enough satisfaction to last me a year.”