Strong vocals and showstopping performances were at the height of the fifth annual Voice of Granbury competition last Thursday, with the women dominating the majority of the final rounds.
With renditions of songs by Aretha Franklin, Guns & Roses, and Fugees, the female competitors proved they deserved a little “Respect,” after their performances that night.
After three rounds of voting by the audience members, the top three performers were selected: Shayla Nuttall in third, Crystal McCraw in second, and Crystal Douglass in first.
Originally from Keller, Shayla Nuttall began taking voice lessons at only eight years old, as she was inspired by her older sister, Abigail.
“I always would listen to her sing,” Nuttall said, on her 21-year-old sister. “Ever since I heard her sing, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, she's so amazing,’ and my mom would also sing to me, like all the time; I just learned from them.”
Now, at 14, Nuttall is an eighth grader at Aledo Middle School and has been utilizing her singing talent ever since. She even landed the role of Brigitta in “The Sound of Music” at The Opera House in Granbury.
This was her second time competing in The Voice of Granbury, and Nuttall described it as “amazing.”
"All the people were really nice to me,” she said. “As soon as I got off the stage there, they all were really supportive of me. I didn't really care about the voting; I just like performing for people."
Although she didn’t care if she won or lost, Nuttall was still “really happy” when she found out she made it to the top three in the competition.
“I didn't think I would get that far, and so I thought that was pretty amazing that a lot of people voted for me and supported me,” she said.
Her favorite part about the night, she said, was having her family and friends there to support her — the latter of whom were described as her “fan club” during the night by announcer David Youker.
As for her future, Nuttall plans to start writing her own music and perform with her ukulele.
She will also be participating in an open mic event in Mansfield this week.
Originally from Annapolis, Maryland, Crystal McCraw moved to Granbury in 2001.
She first fell in love with singing as a young girl when she watched her mother sing with her band.
“I knew she was in a band, but I just had never seen her actually perform,” she said. “And then I saw her perform, and I was like, ‘She's Whitney Houston.’ I couldn't differentiate that she was my mom in a band and not Whitney Houston, so I wanted to be like my mom.”
McCraw’s mother performed Top 40 songs, meaning songs that were popular in the early 90s and late 80s. Her dad played the bass guitar in the band, while her mom was the singer and sometimes the guitarist.
Her parents weren’t the only musical influences in her life, though.
“When I was younger, it would have probably been Bette Midler, Cher, and Tina Turner, and then as I got older, it kind of just expanded,” she explained. “I like all voices, anywhere from Joss Stone to Creedence Clearwater Revival to Jewel. It kind of goes all over the place now.”
McCraw also competed in the Voice of Granbury Audition Night event. She said both times, the experiences were “super fulfilling.”
"I tried to just go into it like, ‘It doesn't matter if I win or lose; this is for charity. This isn’t about me winning. I’m not gaining anything except raising money for these kids,’” she said. “As long as you can keep your head in that kind of space, then it comes out to be a super cool experience.”
She said her favorite part of the night was realizing that the top three were all girls.
“We almost had it completely wiped in the second round, but Chad (Swanberg) was still in it, so we were kind of all just holding our breath to see if a girl would take it this year,” McCraw said.
She recommends that if anyone is ever invited to participate in the Voice of Granbury competition, to “100% do it.”
“It was quite the experience and I'm glad that Tammy Hickey contacted Kiwanis and suggested that I be part of it. I am grateful,” she said.
When she is not singing, McCraw stays busy working as a hairstylist — something she has done for the past 17 years. She runs her own hair salon, Hair by Crystal.
She is also a wife to her best friend, Joe, and mother of two boys: Oryon, 16, and Cyrus, 12.
Crystal Douglass, 32, is a Granbury native who has spent over 20 years visiting, living, graduating, and building both her career and family in the town that has built her.
She has always had a passion for theater. She performed in “Steel Magnolias” and “I Hate Hamlet” when she attended Granbury High School.
“My entire senior year, we did ‘I Hate Hamlet,’ and I was this spicy New York realtor,” she said. “I had to do the accent and everything, and that was probably one of my funnest times to be on stage.”
Granbury residents might recognize Douglass from her years of singing Patsy Cline at Babe’s when the restaurant first opened.
“My mom is a singer herself,” Douglass said. “So, I think it just kind of went down on the bloodline. It’s following true to the story too, because my daughter absolutely loves to sing.”
Her daughter, Adelynn, will be five on Feb. 5, and Douglass added she was glad she was finally able to wave to Adelynn during her performance on Jan. 19.
"She has been so mad at me since the last Voice of Granbury because I didn't wave at her,” she said, chuckling. “Every time we pass the square, she points out Granbury Live and she’s like ‘Hey mom, remember when you were there, and I was waving at you, and you didn’t wave.’ She says it to me every time, so I told her ‘If I ever make it back up onstage, I will wave to you, I promise.’ So, I finally got to get out of the doghouse with her; that was my favorite part of the night.”
Douglass, who works as a sales executive at the Granbury Conference Center, said her musical influences are Norah Jones and Tracy Chapman.
“(I like) anything that has a bluesy sound to it, and anything that just gets my heart into it. I sing everything. If it’s on the radio, I start singing to it. I might not know all the words, but I’ll figure it out,” she said, laughing.
This was Douglass’ third time competing in The Voice of Granbury, but this year, she was a last-minute contestant.
"It's really kind of funny how it happened this time,” she explained. “Kiwanis asked me to come speak at one of their luncheons about Granbury Young Professionals, and while I was there at the lunch, Matt (Mills) was sitting right across from me and he goes ‘Hey, do you want to sing at intermission at The Voice?' I was like, ‘Yeah, let me just check my schedule,' and not even five minutes later, he was like, ‘Hey, do you want to be a contestant?’ It was super short notice, so I just picked songs that I've karaoked 1,000 times.”
Douglass has tried out for both “American Idol” and “The Voice,” but was looking to snag “The Voice” title on a local level.
"I didn't expect to win at all,” she said. “I just got up there and had some fun. I really just looked at it as karaoke on the big stage.”
She said it was “great to snag ‘The Voice’ title” while her mom was there supporting her.
“I made my mama very proud last night, so that was definitely all for her too,” she added.
Douglass said her favorite part of the night was the “energy behind the stage with all of the contestants.”
"Everybody is so supportive of one another,” she said. “The camaraderie that you get to have with other artists is just a really great time. It's just a fun night in general just to kind of hang out and do something that you love.”