Arts and Entertainment

Federal Way singer on 'The Voice' inspires single moms

Ayesha Brooks, known to fans as Music Box, sings during a performance on NBC’s show “The Voice.
Ayesha Brooks, known to fans as Music Box, sings during a performance on NBC’s show “The Voice.'
— image credit: Contributed photo

Federal Way single mother Ayesha Brooks battled it out with other singers on NBC’s hit show “The Voice” this season and was finally eliminated from the second Battle Round that aired on Monday.

But her purpose for being on the show was bigger than winning.

“I feel like everything I do is for my son; every decision I make is for my son,” said 28-year-old Brooks of her 2-year-old son, John Alex. “The whole reason I even wanted to go on the show was to show my son what it looks like to pursue a dream. That was the biggest platform that I’ve ever had and it’s not about winning; it’s about pursuing a passion and being a voice for single parents.”

Brooks — who fans know by her stage name Music Box — learned the tough lesson about making a commitment to pursue her dreams from her own mother.

When she was 12 and knew she wanted to sing for a living, Brooks was asked to sing “Oh Holy Night” at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Tukwila. But there was a bigger crowd than she expected when she got to the school.

“I started crying and I just was like, ‘Mom, I do not want to go on. I am so scared. I don’t want to do it,’” Brooks recalled. “And she took me aside and she goes, ‘I know right now you’re going to hate me and you might not understand this, but you made a commitment and I’m going to make you keep it and if you don’t want to sing after this ever again, you won’t have to. But when you make a commitment, you have to do that so I’m going to teach you to overcome your fear.’”

Brooks sang that night and said she’s glad she did.

“Fear is really crazy how it can paralyze you and how it can make you doubt yourself and make you feel insecure,” she said. “But the second that you step outside of yourself, you realize how strong you really are and that you’re greater than fear.”

It took an alter-ego to help her get past her stage fright, which she still had when she was 18.

“I still really struggled with that stage fright and I was able to overcome it, but it was just such a big feat every single time I get on the stage until I felt like OK, I have to come up with an alter ego. I feel like a different person when I’m on stage, so I need to name that and I just decided to name myself Music Box.”

When she transforms into Music Box on stage, belting out her genre of soul and rock, she feels like a superhero.

“Oh my gosh, it’s helped so much,” she said of her alter-ego, laughing. “I would say that it really describes who I am on the stage and it kind of feels like I am Batman. He’s another person in the day, but when he puts on that suit, it’s like he knows what to do, it’s business, time to work. So I feel like Music Box is just an alter-ego, a good superhero name.”

Brooks has lived in Federal Way since she was 5 years old. She received numerous awards as a classical and jazz vocalist while attending high school at Life Christian Academy in Tacoma.

“Singing kind of chose me,” Brooks said, noting her grandfather was in a singing group who opened for Elvis Presley.

She left Federal Way in 2008 to pursue a vocal performance degree at Berklee College of Music. After she expended her scholarship, she tried to figure out who she was as an artist.

“And that’s when I started to realize, wow, I’m from Federal Way and I need to put that in my artistry,” she recalled. “So that’s when I decided to sing soul-rock music. I have a soul voice, but I love rock because of the city that I come from, which is a beautiful thing. Not too many people do soul-rock. We have Lenny Kravitz and, of course, Jimi Hendrix came from Renton, so I think that really influenced me as an artist.”

She eventually put her music on hold when she became pregnant with her son.

But after moving back to Federal Way, she joined a Fremont-based rock band called Imagine the Giant. That’s when a producer heard her voice and invited her to a private audition for “The Voice.”

On the show, Brooks started out on celebrity coach Shakira’s team.

“The whole reason why I wanted to be on team Shakira was because she is a mom, and although she has a man helping her, I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a superstar internationally and be a mom,” she said. “So I wanted to be on her team to get advice from someone that is living the dream that I want to live.”

But during the first Battle Round, Shakira chose contestant Deja Hall over Brooks after they sang “Eternal Flame” by The Bangles. Celebrity coach Usher saved Brooks, who saw the move as a “second chance.” However, during the second Battle Round that aired on Monday, Brooks was eliminated.

She said the best part about being on the show was sharing the camaraderie with her fellow contestants.

She’s also enjoyed hearing from her fans.

She works at a restaurant in Tukwila in the evenings and she said some nights, she would come out of the kitchen and see herself on TV.

“And the crazy part is to watch people’s reactions, like, wait, is that you up there?” She laughed. “And they want to take pictures of you and you’re in your work clothes and it’s like literally living a double life.”

She added people have “really connected to my story and they’ve really connected to the heart of who I am and I couldn’t ask for anything better.”

 

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