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It's been more than two months since The Voice Season 21 finale, but Wendy Moten is still on a high. The Season 21 Contestant nabbed second place, just behind Girl Named Tom, thanks to her soulful vocals that displayed her decades-long industry experience. (She's sung backup for several greats, including Julio Iglesias and Faith Hill.)
But her breakout Blind Audition, in which she sang a cover of The Beatles' "We Can Work It Out," proved she's ready for the spotlight. Moten earned a coveted four-chair turnaround, wowing Coaches Ariana Grande, Kelly Clarkson, John Legend, and Blake Shelton. (She ultimately went Team Blake.)
"I've worked with some of the greatest Artists in history; they were great storytellers, and I just wanted to reach people through song," Moten tells NBC Insider.
Since filming on The Voice wrapped, Moten has been tending to her broken elbow, which she sustained on set after accidentally tripping over a monitor. At the time, she insisted the pain was mild and performed with a splint for six shows, straight to the final episode. After that, she flew home to Nashville and had surgery.
"They had to put a big titanium piece in my elbow to keep my shoulder and arm together," Moten says. "I go to therapy three times a week. It's getting better—it seems like it's not working, but when you realize where I was in December and where I am today, there's definitely progress that's been made."
To Moten, this was just a minor setback. In between physical therapy appointments, she's managed to appear on The Kelly Clarkson Show and sing the national anthem at a Memphis Grizzlies basketball game. Most recently, she announced live performance dates through March, including multiple shows at Nashville's The Time Jumpers, the legendary Grand Ole Opry, and her Coach Blake Shelton's restaurant, Ole Red.
Moten says it was Shelton's loyalty and very specific advice that helped sustain her confidence while on The Voice.
"I wasn't sure I could handle it. I wasn't sure if I could compete with these youngsters," she says. "What I loved about Blake was he knew that I had a lot of experience. He also was not trying to change me. If anything, he was encouraging me to trust my instincts."
She continues, "The most important thing is after I fell and injured myself, he still kept that same momentum. I never saw doubt or anything that would make me feel like I couldn't stay on. I always saw the fire inside, and I thanked him for sticking with me."
Following their live duet at the end of the season—they sang Shelton's collaboration with Christina Aguilera, "Just a Fool"—fans have been begging for a formal Shelton-Moten track. And while she says the timing isn't quite right at the moment, she's holding him to his on-air promise. "Blake mentioned he wanted to record [with] me, and I was like, 'This is on camera, we have evidence,'" Moten says.
That on-camera singing competition experience puts Moten in a great place to give advice—both to future Voice Contestants and Artists competing on NBC's new music show, American Song Contest. (On ASC, singers from 50 U.S. states, five territories, and Washington, D.C perform original songs—and viewers decide which one is the best.)
"Have fun and [know] this is the moment," she says. "Everything you've dreamt about, this is the time to do it. Because you're gonna be under a microscope in front of millions of people, and it's the best vehicle you'll ever have, even after you get record deals or you write the greatest song ever. You'll never get the type of exposure you're gonna get being on a show like this."
American Song Contest premieres March 21 at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.
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