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Joanna Serenko’s next act after ‘The Voice’: an album that shows her ‘Best of Me’

St. Louis singer-songwriter Joanna Serenko will play songs from “Best of Me” at Blue Strawberry on Thursday, May 19.
Joan Fisher
St. Louis singer-songwriter Joanna Serenko will play songs from “Best of Me” at Blue Strawberry on Thursday, May 19.

Two years ago, Joanna Serenko made it to the finals on “The Voice.” The singer-songwriter was competing on what was arguably the strangest season of the show in its 20-year history. The Kirkwood teen began the competition in a pre-COVID universe but soon found herself competing from her parents’ house as the pandemic shut down Hollywood.

After making it to the ninth spot of the show’s semifinals, only to see elimination, Serenko started to dig into the process of putting together an album — crafting new songs and developing lyrics she’d originally penned when she was only midway through high school.

Serenko, now 21, said she was never interested in letting a record label push her to become something she wasn’t.

“I definitely want to have more control over my own music … and not be under the thumb of anybody else with my own music when it comes to that,” she said on Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air.

The result is Serenko’s debut album “Best of Me,” which came out this February and features notes of R&B along with a singer-songwriter’s gift for metaphor. This month, she’s finally able to celebrate the album with a release party. She’ll play songs from the album with a full band on May 19 at the Blue Strawberry.

Serenko said she’s aiming for that classic Blue Strawberry, intimate cabaret vibe.

“I'm going to talk about each song and describe it to people [to] give them a really deep experience of how it was to write the album,” she said.

When Serenko isn’t writing or recording, she studies nursing at Maryville University.

Joanna Serenko joins St. Louis on the Air

“My mom is a nurse, my grandma was a nurse, so it was always something on the back burner … but music has obviously become so much more prominent in my life,” she said. “Having the backup plan is nice, but I know that I can do music.”

She also performs as a backup vocalist in her boyfriend Tyler Dale’s country band, Tyler Dale and Company.

“I like to dip into all different kinds of genres,” she said.

Serenko will perform with Dale the night after her release party. The pair will perform with the rest of the band on May 21 at Westport Social.

“It just is really an amazing element to our relationship,” she added.

Related Event
What: “Best of Me” Release Party
When: 7:30 p.m. May 19
Where: Blue Strawberry (364 N. Boyle Ave., St. Louis, MO 63108)

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 Emily Woodbury, Kayla Drake, Danny Wicentowski and Alex Heuer. Jane Mather-Glass is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Emily is the senior producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.