Indiana residents, others continue to represent on “The Voice”

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Just when northeast Indiana thought Addison Agen would be the only Hoosier on “The Voice,” two more serious contenders show up from different parts of the state. The new season is still relatively new, and it is difficult to predict outcomes at this point, but there have been eliminations and battle rounds, yet the Indiana contestants continue to compete. Christiana Danielle and Jordan Kirkdorffer from Fort Wayne and New Paris respectively, have performed well to this point. At any rate, whether they want to or not, the singers call to mind Agen’s time on the popular singing show.

Why Indiana’s representation matters on “The Voice”

Perhaps in a year or two, it won’t matter where contestants are from, only that they sing flawlessly. Maybe it doesn’t really matter now, but it is interesting to consider that Indiana is represented in a show with a national audience.

For people interested in matters of art and culture, Indiana typically is not thought of as a stronghold of either. There is an abundance of degree programs in music, writing, and visual arts, but aside from teaching, there seems no plan for success in the arts. Thus, serious artists of various types usually end up leaving the state.

Also, Indiana also ends up as a cultural joke, or a reference point meaning “nowhere” in popular movies and television shows. Therefore, when residents from the state prove themselves serious artists, it means something to people who care about the arts, and Indiana, have an interest in how well Indiana residents perform on shows like “The Voice.”

“The Voice” and Indiana contestants

As of right now, Christiana Danielle and Jordan Kirkdorffer remain on “The Voice.” Christiana’s latest performance in the Knockout Rounds proved her the better singer, and that is not an insignificant achievement.

The new season of “The Voice” began on February 27, 2018. The blind auditions alone took six parts. For a contestant to still be on the show at this point is quite a feat. The odds are against any performer on “The Voice” or similar shows.

Both Christiana and Kirkdorffer show a pragmatic streak in their backstories. Each has a degree in something practical. Christiana Danielle is from Fort Wayne, Indiana, the same as Agen. Recently, the 22-year-old singer earned a degree in social work, and according to  NBC.com, she enjoys working to give to underserved communities.

Kirkdorffer, on the other hand, is from New Paris, Indiana, near Goshen. He went to Belmont University to study music and found himself unprepared, essentially, NBC.com reports. His reality check was followed by a degree change, and the performer became a certified public accountant. Music, including his YouTube-d performances, was put on the side. Until now.

Both of the young performers’ stories indicate a Midwestern pragmatism. But for those who are champions of the arts, they are bittersweet. Here’s hoping that their dreams come true on “The Voice.”

Diversity notes on “The Voice”

Aside from Christiana Danielle and Kirkdorffer, “The Voice is diversifying its talent pool racially as well. While there have always been a handful of black contestants on “The Voice,” the proportion of singers of color never seemed to reflect real-life. Now, with at least 17 people of color (not just black) the artist cast of “The Voice” looks more inclusive than it ever has.

The diversity might serve to inspire children and teens who watch the show and to make adult viewers appreciate the casting decisions, and they might see themselves reflected on the show. This could be important for the coveted 18-49-year-old demographic, who might hold the show to higher standards in regard to representation.

The new diversity illustrated on “The Voice” could help ensure the show’s longevity, and protect the show’s reputation against any claims of bias.

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana who lives in New York City where she studies creative nonfiction at Columbia University. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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