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NBC Photo by Trae Patton Kat Perkins sings “Let It Go” on Monday while competing on the NBC singing show “The Voice.” The Scranton native made it to the top five before being eliminated Tuesday.

Just the beginning: Perkins ready to start music career after run on ‘The Voice’ ends

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Just the beginning: Perkins ready to start music career after run on ‘The Voice’ ends
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Kat Perkins’ run on “The Voice” may be over, but her journey is just beginning.

The rock star born in Scranton made it to the top five of the NBC singing talent show before being eliminated Tuesday. Kat has gone from being a nanny to having a music career that she can’t wait to pursue.

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“It was such a big accomplishment,” Kat said. “I still can’t believe that I made the top five of the show.”

With an album waiting to be made, Kat is ready to start singing in concerts, including one in North Dakota to show her appreciation for her fans, without whom she said she couldn’t have become the star she did on the show.

‘The Rockin Nanny’

Kat said on the show that she can’t remember not singing when she grew up in Scranton. Her father, Mark Perkins, said she was trained in all aspects of singing, from country to classical.

“She has the mechanics to do just about anything,” said Mark, a music teacher at Scranton Public School. “Her ear tells her how to cover all those styles. She has almost made it a practice to do it all.”

In high school, Kat tried out and made the cut to sing in the Medora Musical. She was later the lead singer of her rock band, Scarlet Haze — even opening for Bon Jovi at the Target Center in Minneapolis.

After the band broke up, she became a nanny for the Keller family in Minneapolis, where she lives now. They would sing together and, more importantly, watch one of their favorite shows: “The Voice.”

“We are such huge fans of the show,” Kat said. “We always look forward to our Mondays and Tuesdays watching the show together.”

Kat watched the show from season one, she said, adding that the children were an inspiration for her.

“They were always bugging me about auditioning,” she said. “They kept saying ‘You should do it! You should do it!’”

“The Rockin’ Nanny” laughed when she talked about the children’s request, saying that she was happy with her life at the moment. But that was about to change.

The singer said the producers of the show called her after seeing a video of her singing Adele’s “Someone Like You” while overseas in Amsterdam. She had made the video in an airport while on layover and posted it on YouTube, and it caught NBC’s attention.

“The producers saw that video and asked me to audition,” Kat said. “When they came to me, I obviously couldn’t say no.”

‘A perfect decision’

Kat first appeared on “The Voice” for the blind auditions during episode 5, when she sang “Gold Dust Woman” by Stevie Nicks. She wanted to show the world that performing is what she was born to do, and show the children she spent so much time with that they could go for their dreams no matter what, she said.

But she had to get the coaches to turn their chairs — not an easy task, as viewers of the show know.

“It was crazy,” Kat said. “I just wanted to get through it. All I could think about that whole time was that I was nervous.”

She didn’t have to worry. She turned three chairs: coaches Adam Levine, Usher and Shakira.

“I was so excited I could barely take in what they had to say,” Kat said. “The next thing I knew, I had to make a decision between the coaches.”

All three were fighting for her.

“I want you. I want you desperately,” Shakira said on the show. “I could get you straight to the start.”

But Kat chose Levine, who recognized her as a rock singer. And Kat knew she made the right decision.

“I made a perfect decision with coach Adam,” she said. “He was great for me.”

A diverse singer

Kat soon became a powerhouse on the show, taking on complex songs like “Open Arms” by Journey and Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide.”

But one thing the coaches loved was how Kat could take a song outside of her genre and turn it into something explosive.

“You just did a heavy metal version of a Daft Punk song in the coolest way,” Levine said when she sang “Get Lucky.”

The hit was her choice, she said. The techno song was a risk, she said, but she was glad Levine worked with her. The result was her having fun with it while flames flew in the air behind her.

“It was just perfect,” she said, adding her coach had always told her to follow her gut.

“He was all about showing my diversity after he figured out I had a lot more than just rock in me,” she said.

Perkins also sang “Let It Go” from the Disney movie “Frozen” and Sia’s “Chandelier,” her favorite to perform. She had never heard of the Sia song, but connected with it and made it her own, she said.

Saved by tweets

“The Voice” airs Mondays and Tuesdays during the live rounds. On Mondays, the contestants sing a song after working for a week with the coaches. Viewers then vote for their favorites by buying songs on iTunes, sending text messages to the show’s hotline or voting online.

On Tuesdays, the singers that got the most votes move on to the next round. The bottom singers must sing again for an “Instant Save,” where voters tweet to save the artist.

Kat would end up in the bottom portion of singers three episodes in a row, where she would have to “sing for her life,” as she put it, to stay on the show. Though she ended up singing for votes three times, she never let it faze her.

“I tried to prepare myself for every single scenario from the beginning on this so I was never surprised or really jarred by anything,” Kat said.

The first time, Kat landed in the bottom three with former St. Louis Rams cheerleader Tess Boyer and blues singer Bria Kelly. The announcement triggered the “Instant Save.” The three had to sing a song and hope viewers tweeted their names enough to be saved.

Kat knew what she had to do, she said, and that was to stay focused and do what she came to do: sing.

“It felt really great to sing one last song, and if that was going to be the way I went out on the show, then I got to go out sing,” Kat said “Who doesn’t want that?”

Kat chose to cover “Paris (Ooh La La)” by Grace Potter & the Nocturnals. Voters came to Kat’s rescue and saved her.

It takes a lot of different qualities for an artist to make it, and Kat had them all, said Gwen Sebastian, a country singer and former “Voice” contestant. Sebastian, who is from Hebron, returned to the show this season as a mentor for Blake Shelton’s team, but she realized how much talent Kat had.

“She was so cool with handling everything,” Sebastian said. “She was always in the bottom, and it didn’t necessarily seem to matter to her. She was just up there every performance her all. It was as if you were at the Kat concert every time she was up there.”

The next week, Kat found herself in the bottom four. “The Voice Curse” states that she should have mathematically been eliminated. Again, she didn’t worry about the odds. In fact, she invited the challenge.

“The second week, I was kind of masochistically wanting it because it was so fun to sing another song,” she said. “It was fun to leave it all out there as opposed to Monday nights. On Tuesday, when you get to sing, you get to leave your artistry all out there and do what you do.”

Again, her fans took to Twitter. Some even joined the social media website to vote, their first Tweets meant to save Kat.

“That just shows you how we are in North Dakota,” Sebastian said. “The support here is huge. You can guarantee that someone sees you on the side of the road they are going help.”

“I ended up being the people’s champion of Twitter,” Kat said. “It is just so heartwarming to know that some people opened a Twitter account, figured it out and tweet just to save me.”

While Kat had a lot of support, it wasn’t enough. In the semifinals Tuesday, she was again in the bottom three. This time America chose to save Christina Grimmie, a YouTube sensation from New Jersey.

Though Kat didn’t make it to the finals, Mark said he couldn’t be more proud of his daughter.

“There was nothing to be sad about because she felt like she fulfilled what she wanted to do,” Mark said. “To make it that far was really nice.”

What the future holds

Fans didn’t just show support with tweets and iTunes purchases. Trees in Scranton are plastered with Kat Perkins posters. The school’s marching band marched during state band day in Bismarck holding a banner to support her. A metal cutout of “The Voice” logo with Kat’s name on it sits in her parents’ yard.

“It was really empowering to see what I feel was like the entire state rallying behind me, kind of like a sports team,” Kat said. “I honestly couldn’t have done it without them.”

Mark knew there was support; he just didn’t know how much. He believes Kat had the largest geographical following of anyone in the show.

“It’s been really refreshing to see,” Mark said. “I think it shows not only how we pulled together as families but as a community and a state as a whole.”

Both Mark and Sebastian said this is definitely not the last of Kat.

“More like the beginning,” Mark said, adding he knows she’ll “strike while the iron is hot.”

Kat said she can’t wait to give back to her fans in North Dakota and say thank you to those who kept her on the show. She is working on a album, though she couldn’t say if she had a record deal. She did say she wants to do a concert in North Dakota, even hinting at Medora as the location.

“I’m really excited to see what happens, and I have a feeling it is going to be all good,” she said.

“I can’t wait to come perform in North Dakota.”

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April Baumgarten
April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, as the news editor. She works with a team of talented journalists and editors, who strive to give the Grand Forks area the quality news readers deserve to know. Baumgarten grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family continues to raise registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college,  she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as the Dickinson city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.   
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