"That was then, this is now. It's a whole new thing," Smithfield's Bria Kelly said Tuesday in a telephone press conference with her fellow contestants on NBC's "The Voice."
She was talking about her previous experience on national television, a brief run on "America's Got Talent," in 2012. She was also talking about her new musical direction, which is away from country and toward blues and radio-friendly R&B.
Kelly, an 18-year-old senior at Smithfield High School, said she's a fan of ZZ Ward, who mixes blues and soul with modern R&B and hip-hop.
"I want to have a blues feel vocally," she said. "In the background, I want to have something mainstream that can be played on the radio. I don’t want an old-school sound because I know that’s not really going to sell. I’m going to try to do something that’s different but good and relatable at the same time."
That helps to explain her choice of Usher as her coach on "The Voice," although Kelly maintained in the press conference that she was still hoping to work with Adam Levine even when she was in the midst of her auditon, which took place last fall.
Kelly said she's moving away from her country roots. Local audiences know her as primarily a country and rock artist.
"Even the songs I write, they don’t sound country at all. I can’t help that. They sound a little more r&b ish," Kelly said in the press conference. "I’m thinking this is more the avenue where I’m meant to go." She said she felt obligated to sing country in part because country is very popular in this part of Virginia. "I feel like where I’m meant to go is not country music, but something that’s going to be really cool to explore."
Kelly said she's already thinking ahead to what comes after "The Voice."
"I definitely just want to be able to cut a record, to be honest with you," she said. "I don’t have the money to be able to do that at this point. I want to work with songwriters, get my own music out there. I’ve been on bigger stages before, but just locally. I haven’t toured or anything. I would like to get the chance to be able to do that."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun