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Live From Kirkwood, Joanna Serenko Reaches Top 9 On NBC's 'The Voice'

Joanna Serenko sings the Bill Withers classic "Lean on Me" in her Kirkwood-home backyard during the Top 9 Performances on The Voice singing competition.
Joanna Serenko sings the Bill Withers classic "Lean on Me" in her Kirkwood-home backyard during the top-nine performances on "The Voice" singing competition.

Around this time last year, Joanna Serenko won the St. Louis Teen Talent Competition at the Fabulous Fox Theatre. This year, she’s using her musical talents to win the hearts of a much larger audience. 

The 19-year-old Kirkwood native is representing St. Louis on NBC’s “The Voice” singing competition — and she’s made it to the top nine, having wowed viewers and the four celebrity coaches alike: Kelly Clarkson, Nick Jonas, John Legend and Blake Shelton. 

But with that comes a series of complications. Like all of America, the TV show’s plans were upended by the coronavirus. Rather than go into its live portion in April as planned, the show went on hiatus. 

Last week, “The Voice” returned, with pandemic-related precautions. Serenko has been performing hits from her basement and backyard, such as James Taylor's "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight" and Bill Withers' "Lean on Me."

The program sent recording equipment and even a giant wardrobe directly to Serenko’s house, making her “feel like a kid in the candy store.”

“I will tell you my house is a complete mess right now … but we managed to make it work,” Serenko added. “The upstairs area is where all the wardrobe is, and the basement is where all the lighting and camera stuff is.”

Performing from her house has its drawbacks, she admitted.

“Having an audience is really nice in a lot of cases, just because it’s who I’m singing to; it’s who I get energy from and who I reciprocate energy to. It’s a completely different feeling when you’re singing to a basement wall,” she said. “But at the same time, there is this level of pressure that’s just completely relieved from my shoulders.”

Tonight, Serenko and fans will see if she makes it to the finale of the televised singing competition

Serenko joined Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air to talk with host Sarah Fenske about her experience thus far on the singing competition — and her musical journey in St. Louis, which included singing on stage at KDHX and Blueberry Hill. Someday, she said, she hopes to perform at Delmar Hall.

Listen to the full conversation:

Related Event

What: NBC’s “The Voice” Ep. 15
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 12, 2020
Where: https://www.nbc.com/the-voice/episodes/season-18

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill, Lara Hamdan and Joshua Phelps. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.

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Lara is the Engagement Editor at St. Louis Public Radio.