The stars lined up for local pop and R&B singer Radharani “RADHA” Martinez, 20, this fall. Literally, stars including Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Kelly Clarkson, and Jennifer Hudson were on stage at Universal Studios in Los Angeles to judge RADHA, a Jersey City native and Marist High School graduate, as she performed on the fifteenth season of NBC’s The Voice.
“At first it’s exciting and exhilarating. After a while you get used to it and start to get into the mentality that this is actually a real career I want to set forth on. This is professional preparation,” said RADHA, who returned to New Jersey on November 14 after being eliminated along with 13 others in the first week. “It’s one thing to take it all in,” she says. “At some point, you have to get over being in front of cameras and being nervous. You have to realize this is all part of the process.”
RADHA has been singing since she was three years old, performing in elementary school and high school concerts and talent shows, and later at Groove on Grove, the concert series at the Grove Street PATH station, the Jersey City Pride festival in the summer, and various other gigs in the New York region.
Thinking about a singing career
“It was 2016 when I started to take this seriously,” RADHA said. “I started looking into writing music and I hopped in the studio. I had to fix my mind onto what I wanted to do.” Her mother encouraged her to sing, but it wasn’t until 2016 when she bumped into a classmate’s aunt, who later became her manager, that she started to think seriously about a music career. Her manager has since been a major source of focus and drive.
That diligence has paid off thus far. After seeing her perform on YouTube, NBC reached out to RADHA in the spring to be a part of the 2018 season’s pool of talent. That means she bypassed the auditions that thousands of musician hopefuls attend every year. NBC flew her out in the spring, then again in the fall for the televised season along with her family.
RADHA has a powerful voice, the kind that can flawlessly belt a Mariah Carey song in front of Mariah Carey, which she did for Carey’s cover of Jackon 5’s “I’ll Be There” in the third round of the show.
“Singing a Mariah Carey rendition song in front of Mariah Carey is something I don’t know anyone else will ever do,” said RADHA. “That was a legendary moment on my part.”
“He knew I had that ‘it’ factor, which really meant a lot to me.” — RADHA
Adam Levine took notice
On The Voice, performers are placed on teams picked by the judges. During the first round, the blind auditions, the judges face the crowd and hit a big red button on their egg-shaped chairs when they approve of the contestant’s performance, swinging the chair around in dramatic fashion to face the singer in the middle of her performance. After performing a rendition of Jessie J’s “Mama Knows Best,” RADHA was quickly scooped up by Adam Levine of Maroon 5.
“To know that Adam loved my rendition and took me forward because he knew I had that ‘it’ factor really meant a lot to me,” said RADHA, who describes Levine as a charismatic, funny musician who was present and supportive during rehearsals. “It made me a little emotional, but it was pure joy.”
RADHA’s stage presence was felt. During her performance, she reached out to touch the crowd’s extended hands while maintaining poise and tone.
Even though RADHA was eliminated, she saw the opportunity to perform in front of a huge crowd and millions of viewers nationwide on prime-time television as a stepping stone to the future.
“I had to really think to myself, is this what I’m going to do,” RAHDA said. “The Voice will be a jumping off point to get to where I want to get in my life, which is to be a huge artist.”
Rory Pasquariello can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org