QUEENSBURY — Years ago, music teacher Penny Schiek listened to a young Delaney Silvernell sing on her home karaoke machine.
“I said to her mom, ‘Stay out of her way,’” recalled Schiek, who immediately recognized that Silvernell was a gifted singer.
So it came as no surprise to Schiek that Silvernell, a 2014 Queensbury High School graduate, will make her television debut on ‘The Voice’ at 8 p.m. Sept. 24.
“She’s always been driven as a singer,” said Schiek, who taught Silvernell music at Queensbury High School. “Basically, I just tried to stay out of her way.”
Vocalists from across the country compete in “The Voice,” a four-time Emmy Award-winning show on NBC starting its 15th season this month. The show features superstar coaches Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton and host Carson Daly.
Silvernell, who describes herself on Facebook as a pop and R&B singer, is not allowed to speak with the press until after the Blind Auditions on Sept. 24. During the Blind Auditions, the four coaches are turned around in their red chairs and decisions are based solely on voice, not on looks.
If a coach is impressed by the artist’s voice, the coach pushes a button to select the artist for his or her team. At that point, the coach turns the chair around and sees the artist. If more than one coach pushes the button, the singer gets to choose the coach. If no coach pushes the button, the artist is eliminated from the competition.
“It’s been a very interesting summer,” said Delaney’s mom, Tammy Silvernell, who admitted her daughter wasn’t even allowed to share the results with her family.
Delaney always loved to sing, said her mom. As a toddler, Delaney wore out a VHS tape of iconic musical “The Wizard of Oz,” as she sang along with the songs.
When Delaney entered school, her mother realized “she actually can carry a tune.”
In spite of her recent success, Delaney was very shy about performing in front of people when she was young. She was an athlete and played the piano and cello. But in the end, her love of singing won out.
She started performing with the Lake George Youth Theatre at age 11 and continued through high school. She excelled in her roles as the Sour Kangaroo in “Seussical the Musical,” and her breakout role as Dorothy in “The Wiz.”
Her hugely powerful voice earned her a standing ovation starring as Aida in the musical “Aida” during her senior year. The song, “The Gods Love Nubia,” brought the audience to its feet. The part was perfect for her, said her mother, because it was a very dramatic role.
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“She didn’t have to dance a lot,” her mom said, “which she loved.”
At Queensbury High School, Delaney starred as Rizzo in “Grease.”
Queensbury music teacher Laura Lee DeLand met Delaney when she started middle school, and it was clear to her that Delaney had a gift.
“Her vocal tone and musicality were so well developed at such a young age,” DeLand wrote in a message.
DeLand said Silvernell has the support of the entire Queensbury community, which is proud of her accomplishments. She also lauded Delaney’s parents, Tammy and Doug, who are both school administrators, for supporting her talent through the years.
After Delaney graduated from the Berklee School of Music in Boston in December, the Silvernells packed her things into a Jetta and moved her to Los Angeles.
“We try to be at everything, and I think that’s really comforting for her,” said Tammy, who admitted the last eight months being on different sides of the country has been difficult.
Show business carries with it a lot of rejection, Tammy Silvernell said. It’s difficult when she’s not there to help her daughter through disappointments.
The chance to be on “The Voice” has given Delaney some reassurance that she’s on the right path and she may be able to accomplish her goal to make a living writing or singing music, Tammy Silvernell said.
“She’s never wanted to do anything else,” she said.
Delaney is featured in the Alumni Spotlight on the Queensbury school district’s website. She shared advice with upcoming high school seniors.
“This is the time of your life that will be pivotal in your growth as everything around you continues to change,” she wrote. “And even though so much change is absolutely terrifying, you have to find joy in the fact that this is it; this is your life, and it’s happening right now.”