Carnegie Mellon grad Lilli Passero lights up 'The Voice'
March 20, 2017 12:00 AM
Carnegie Mellon University grad Lilli Passero on her blind audition on NBC's "The Voice."
By Maria Sciullo / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Fans of “The Voice” seem to really love Lilli Passero, whose blind audition and subsequent serenade by Alicia Keys ran up almost 2 million views on YouTube.
Yet the singer had to be coaxed by her parents to attend the blind auditions.
“They sat me down and had an intervention. They said ‘We know the competition thing scares you, and this is something you would never normally consider doing, but we believe in you too much for you not to be having more going on with your career,’ ” said Ms. Passero, 26 and a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University’s drama program.
“ ‘This could be a great platform for you, so it’s time for you to share with the world what you can do, and stop avoiding it because you’re scared.’”
Then they really laid on the “Jewish-Italian-family guilt,” as she put it. “My mom literally said ‘Do it for us if you don’t want to do it for you.’ ”
And that was that.
Ms. Passero, 26, who recently sang Carla Thomas’ soulful 1961 “A Love of My Own” on the show, got three of the coaches to fight over her.
“That’s all you need, one chair turn and you move forward. So once the others turned, I think my brain started exploding a little bit,” she said of her audition.
“Gwen [Stefani] really got me. She gave a great pitch. I was honestly leaning toward her, was ready to pick Gwen, and I think Alicia saw that in my eyes.”
Ms. Keys belted out an impromptu plea to Ms. Passero, who said “I’m so grateful that she did. It was such an amazing moment.”
Battle rounds begin tonight at 8 on NBC. Coaches assign the same song to two of their 12 singers and decide who performed it better. But not all “losers” go home; the other three coaches can choose two discarded singers to join their teams.
Ms. Passero’s parents, Liz and Jeff Passero, are in the entertainment business and live in the LA area. They’ve been actors, coaches, casting agents. So it was natural for Lilli and her sisters, Sasha Passero, now a talent agent, and Izabella, who is studying at New York City’s Fashion Institute of Technology, to spend their childhoods singing and dancing.
During the NBC broadcast of Ms. Passero’s audition, cameras backstage caught Jeff Passero sobbing.
“Oh, yes, I come from a very theatrical, emotional family, absolutely. We all have LOTS of feelings,” she said, with a dramatic sob in her voice.
After graduation from a performing arts high school, her college search led to Pittsburgh and CMU. “People said ‘Oh, you don’t get in there and don’t go.’ ”
Instead of heading to New York, as did many of her classmates, she was signed by an agency in Los Angeles. That and the desire to be closer to her family brought her to Studio City and various independent film projects.
“The Voice” is consistently among the top of the broadcast ratings, which means Ms. Passero will be singing on a very large stage indeed. Look for her to embrace more of her soulful side (“I’m not a super pop princess anyway”) should she get through the Battle Rounds.
Despite her original hesitation to audition, she said, she’s been enjoying the ride. Ms. Passero even ventured a quick look at some of the YouTube comments.
“I feel super-lucky nothing has been super-mean. The worst was, literally, somebody saying ‘Um, yeah, she was OK.’
“If that’s the worst I’m getting, then I’m counting my blessings.”
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