Now the whole world knows what we've known for years:
Betsy Ade is a rock star.
Tuesday night, the Kenosha-based singer performed on NBC's "The Voice" singing competition show.
Her journey to that televised gig started in June, when she auditioned for the show in Chicago.
"I skipped over the mass audition process," she said during a round of telephone interviews Friday. A member of her band's (Well-Known Strangers) management team set up a more intimate audition for her.
After that audition, she was asked to come to Los Angeles in August and perform for the show's executive producers.
"I flew out there and performed two songs in a big room," she said. "That was thrilling, just thrilling. I got out there, and I did it. I was just happy to be able to do it."
The next step was performing on stage for the show's celebrity judges — performing artists Kelly Clarkson, Adam Levine, Blake Shelton and new judge John Legend.
Ade was in Los Angeles for about a month, preparing for that 90-second performance.
"They hook you up with a vocal coach to help you," she said of the show's production company. "They really set you up for success. They are really nurturing and wanted to prepare you for the biggest night of your life."
Turn that chair!
Before she walked on "The Voice" stage to sing, she "reminded myself to breathe. I was as prepared as I could possibly be, and I told myself to flip the switch, turn it on, enjoy it and try to soak it all in while you're on stage. It was just fun from the beginning to the end."
Singers on "The Voice" perform while the judges sit with their backs to the stage — so they hear only "the voice" without seeing the performer ... get it? For a performer to continue on the show, one or more of the judges must turn around during that 90-second song.
During Ade’s performance, two judges — first Legend, then Levine — turned their chairs.
"I got a chair turn," she recalled. "My family was there watching, so when that chair turned, I looked over to them. They were watching a TV monitor, and there was a slight delay, so they hadn't seen that chair turn yet. Then they erupted in cheers."
Ade sang Florence + The Machine’s “Hunger,” which she said the producers selected for her to perform.
"They gave us songs to choose, and I had picked about 20 from that list. I knew I could sing this song; I'm a huge fan of Florence," she said. "The song speaks to older people who are in a business that celebrates beauty and youth. I connected thoroughly to the lyrics. I was so happy the producers picked that song; they know what kinds of songs you can perform really well."
'The stars are aligning'
Ade, 40, is happy to be on "The Voice" as a seasoned performer who has been singing with bands since college and has performed at big venues including Summerfest.
"I don't know if I could do this at a younger age," she said. "This is happening at the right time in my life. It's all coming together; the stars are aligning."
Some of the "Voice" singers are just out of high school — or still in school — and Ade marvels at their ability to handle the pressure of the national spotlight. It also brings out the teacher in this longtime Kenosha Unified School District substitute teacher.
"Some of the kids here are only 16," she said. "I don't know how they can do this at that young age."
Working with a Legend
Because two judges — Levine and Legend — turned their chairs during Ade's performance on the show, she had to choose which judge to work with on a team.
Before she performed, Ade had decided to pick Clarkson (not an option; she didn't turn that chair), but she also had "two big reasons to pick John Legend: He's been a huge influence on my son, and he turned his chair around first. He changed my life in a second."
The celebrity coaches work with the singers on their "Voice" team during the season.
Right away, Ade said, working with Legend — a multi-talented artist who has won Oscar, Emmy, Tony and Grammy awards — "has been amazing. He's very cool, very smooth and gives great advice. He's a great coach because he's so diverse."
Ade doesn't know yet when she'll appear on another "Voice" episode but said, "I think they've captured some great moments on camera" of her and Legend working together."
Go for it
Besides the obvious goal of being the next "Voice" champion, Ade said her "No. 1 goal is to make music my career. That's been my goal for a really long time. If I can continue songwriting and performing, that will be great."
"I really hope this is good for our band Well-Known Strangers. I hope this helps us along the way to get to that next level."
Her advice to aspiring performers is "to do it. And keep doing it until you're happy with where you're at. Never give up. Press on. I believed so much in my music and my voice and I know how much I love it."
Ade has been traveling back and forth to Los Angeles since this process started in August.
"It's been crazy," she said. "It's more traveling than I have ever done in my entire life, and I couldn't do it without the support of my family."
Her support team at the show included her 10-year son, Talynn; her girlfriend, Chantel; her parents, Karen and Ken; and two close friends, Alyssa and Jessie.
She's also received "nothing but love" from local fans.
For her "Voice" bio, Ade opened up about her private life — her mom's death when Betsy was 9 years old, coming out to her family during college, her life as a single mom — in a way she normally doesn't.
"It was difficult to do that," she said. "I'm not that much of an extrovert, as funny as that sounds, and I do like my privacy. But on a platform like this, you don't have a choice but to be honest with everything you have."
She also has a huge fan base at Curtis Strange Elementary School, where she was a long-term substitute for first-graders.
"My students made a huge banner for me," she said. "And others wrote cards to me. The school even had an assembly where they showed my 'Voice' episode. The kids were cheering 'Go Miss Ade! Go Miss Ade!' It's ridiculous how much love I've gotten."
On with the show
So far, Ade said the most surprising thing about her "Voice" experience has been "the way I was treated on the show and just how supportive and nurturing and loving the production company has been. The casting people, the producers — they cheer you on and help you."
"It's Hollywood and it's TV and you think it's hokey, but it was great to have that support."
As they say at school, "Go Miss Ade!"