Just a Small Town GirlAug 01, 2019 ● By Allie Spletter
From those early years, children decide what they can only dream to become as they look up, with stars in their eyes, to those who have paved the road less traveled before them. Joni Mitchell, Pat Benatar, Bonnie Raitt and Alison Krauss are just a few of the stars who instilled a passion for music in Frisco native and winner of Season 16 of NBC’s “The Voice,” Maelyn Jarmon. She might be a (once) “small town girl,” but the world she is now living in is far from “lonely,” as she makes her rise to fame with a timeless, unique and incredible voice that has been the tool to making her wildest dreams come true.
Ms. Jarmon grew up in Frisco in a musical family where she says her love for music began. “My dad plays guitar and I grew up singing with him. I actually was in a couple of his bands. One was based in Frisco and called ‘In the Rough,’ and one of his band mates who lives in Frisco and I would sit out in his backyard where he showed me all of these amazing artists. I would listen to powerful female artists and my passion grew over time,” Ms. Jarmon explains.
With her love for music continually growing, Ms. Jarmon was homeschooled, which allowed her the opportunity to participate in musical theater. “I did local theater in Frisco at a theater called ‘Word of Mouth’ at the time, and I did some work in Plano at the Plano Children’s Theater. Growing up doing musical theater is what led me to N.Y., where I worked with a music director on Broadway. I was looking at colleges and she said, ‘You know, I think you should just make N.Y. your home,’ and, from there, I went to a conservatory, believe it or not, just for acting, not even for voice,” she says.
Ms. Jarmon’s choice to stay in New York City was ultimately the right one for her as it affirmed her desire to be a writer. “My dad actually ended up doing a residency with me at a music lounge every Wednesday night for a three-hour set. For that, we had to get covers of songs together, which is where my passion came for arranging songs that were already popular and making them my own … especially ones written by male artists and then putting a female perspective on them … which was really what I loved to do.”
From there, Ms. Jarmon started writing and eventually made the switch from musical theater to being an artist, which proved to be quite the change. “It is all so businesslike, but it is a very different world going from musical theater to becoming your own artist. There were lots of bumps in the road, learning curves and disappointments with people who did not end up being very nice. It led to a lot of lessons learned. I found my voice as a female in the music industry and figured out how to speak up for myself and get what I wanted while doing so in a genuine, honest and kind way,” she says.
As with most trying to make it in a tough industry, in an even tougher city, Ms. Jarmon’s journey to “The Voice” was not one without determination and hard work. She shares, “I was making music out there for a while, and you know, N.Y. is hard! There is a lot that goes into living there, and the struggle is absolutely real! I paid a lot of money to live in a tiny box, which meant I had to get a survival job, of which I had multiple.”
While living in N.Y., building her music career, Ms. Jarmon had many jobs working as a waitress in a restaurant in Times Square, a front desk concierge at a hotel and helping friends start a company that played kids music for birthday parties and wrote songs.
The grind of making it in the big city sometimes was not all it was cracked up to be. Ms. Jarmon admits, “It got to the point where I was not loving N.Y. so much, and, at the time, I was thinking about coming back to Texas to become a teacher or try the music scene, but, then, I met a producer and we started working on a song together. I thought ‘this is why I love doing this. This is why I am here.’ You meet people like this and there are so many opportunities.”
With her love for writing and singing renewed, a break-up ultimately led to her big break. She recalls, “I had just gone through a break-up (we are back together now) and I had written a song while cleaning out underneath my bed. I videoed it right there and put it on Instagram. About a week later, someone from ‘The Voice’ reached out to me asking me to come do a private audition. The funny thing was, they had an audition set up for me in N.Y., and I was working a music festival as a ticketing supervisor where I was yelling all weekend and had lost my voice. I called and said, unfortunately, I could not make it. I did not have a voice to sing with. He then reached back out to me and said there were other cities if I was interested in auditioning … and one was Dallas! I called my mom and told her they wanted me to audition, but I could not afford it. She said, ‘I am going to purchase your ticket! You are coming!’ So, I auditioned in Dallas and the rest is history!”
Of her time on “The Voice” and traversing the season of the show, Ms. Jarmon says there were a lot of unexpected aspects of it that she had not counted on, but also a lot of highlights. During her time competing on the show, she admits she had no expectations going into the process, but truly just wanted to see if she could handle something like it. “I think, really, that the schedule was the unknown for me. I did not know if my voice could handle that. I really took care of myself. I was diligent with my diet and taking care of my voice and it made a difference,” she explains. “I kind of had to change my lifestyle and make self-care a priority. To look back and know I have all of that in me is good to know!”
Looking back, Ms. Jarmon says, “I really wanted to work, especially, with John Legend. I thought about whether I could sing in front of that many people, keep my cool and give performances I was really proud of, while learning songs that quickly each week and producing something original and genuine. So, to know I could handle that was a really nice moment for me.”
During her time on the show, Ms. Jarmon got to work closely with many celebrities including her coach, John Legend, as well as the other show coaches Kelly Clarkson, Adam Levine, Blake Shelton and Sarah McLachlan, who she sang a duet with. She also met Taylor Swift. “To realize they are all just humans and everyone is making music was amazing … it just felt very equal while we were there. John Legend made me feel that way. He was always very complimentary. He made a comment during the press conference right after I won. I sang a duet with him, and I sang a duet with Sarah McLachlan, and he said ‘You cannot tell who won the Grammy and who did not!’ I just thought it was crazy, humbling and validating, and all of these things tied into one,” she remembers.
While she is on her way to the top and enjoying her years of hard work finally paying off, there are many things Ms. Jarmon hopes to accomplish through her music and career. She is deaf in one ear, which makes her music genius and voice all the more incredible. While she never viewed her deafness in one ear as a disability, it allowed viewers and fans to connect with her on another level. “I want to do so many things! I had a realization while I was there. I never really considered it a disability before, and I did not really think about how it would affect other people. So many parents of children with hearing disabilities reached out to me, as well as adults with hearing disabilities, and told me how much it inspired them and how it changed the way they viewed themselves. It was very emotional for me. I realized that, especially being voted into a position like this, I have a responsibility not only to produce music that is honest, that people connect to, that makes a statement, and is something that helps people get through something or makes them feel, but I also have a responsibility as a public figure to promote things I believe in,” she explains.
Of coming home to Frisco she shares, “I actually get back to Frisco more than people probably think I do! I love it. It is my home. I miss TexMex so much! I love being at home and having home cooking and being able to be with my family. I love the downtown Frisco area and the Snow Cone Lady. Growing up, I went to her a lot and I just have so many memories. I just get that feeling of actual relaxation when I am home. I get to do a lot of cool things, but there is nothing like coming home.”
Ms. Jarmon played at The Frisco Rail Yard in June and was able to attend an FC Dallas game where she was the honorary scarfer of the Lamar Hunt statue during pre-game ceremonies. Thus far in her professional career, she has earned many accolades and has much to show for her hard work. She was the fifteenth artist of all time to have three simultaneous top ten hits with her cover of “Hallelujah” reaching the No.1 spot, her original “Wait for You” at No. 4 and her duet with John Legend at No. 8. On May 29, she was announced as Billboard’s No.1 emerging artist, and Frisco Mayor Jeff Cheney declared May 30 officially as “Maelyn Jarmon Day.”
Ms. Jarmon will make her return to Frisco as she opens for The Fray and One Republic at Toyota Stadium on September 21. Of her future plans, she shares, “We are making the move to Los Angeles and we have lots of plans in motion. There are lots of things that just keep rolling in, and I am just so grateful. This is what I have wanted to do forever and it has just been incredible.”