‘The Voice’ contestant EllieMae to perform in Story City

Kiley Wellendorf Special to the Herald
EllieMae Millenkamp is a contestant on Season 17 of “The Voice.” Photo courtesy of Chris Haston/NBC

When EllieMae Millenkamp performed as a contestant on “The Voice” earlier this month, to many area residents, she wasn’t a stranger.

EllieMae has performed several times in the local area in the past year or so — including concerts at River Bend Golf Course.

Millenkamp didn’t make out of Round 2 of “The Voice” auditions, but the television appearance certainly increased her fan base.

EllieMae returns to Story City on Saturday, Nov. 2, when she will perform at Simply Mae’s Boutique, 618 Broad St., from 10 a.m. to noon, as part of the shop’s holiday open house.

Performing in front of famous people was what Iowa State University senior and “The Voice” contestant, EllieMae Millenkamp of Jerome, Idaho, was most worried about leading up to her on-screen audition. She sang Kacey Musgraves’, “Merry Go Round,” a country tune her band, “EllieMae” often performed in shows around the Ames area.

It was a comfortable choice, one she practiced numerous times before, but the anticipation of performing in front of Blake Shelton, John Legend, Gwen Stefani and Kelly Clarkson brought along a new edge. Shelton is one of her idols, Millenkamp said, and, if chosen, she was hoping it would be by him.

During the final notes of her audition — to her surprise — Shelton’s chair turned around, revealing she was chosen to be part of his team.

“I didn’t think anybody would turn around,” Millenkamp said in a recent interview with the Ames Tribune. “It made me really emotional.”

She began to cry as Shelton gave her a standing ovation.

“We’re supposed to hear somebody we like and coach them, and I heard enough — I wanted you on my team,” Shelton said to Millenkamp following her audition. “Welcome to Team Blake.”

Although Shelton’s chair was the only chair that turned, Millenkamp’s voice earned praise from Clarkson.

“I think you’re really great,” Clarkson said. “I love your tone, I love your song selection and you have the best coach.”

Growing up, Millenkamp’s roots are tied to her family’s dairy farm, where her parents lead a successful business, she said. While the opportunity to take over the family business is a possible career move for the agriculture business major at ISU, Millenkamp wants to pursue music.

“I just have a big heart for music and have always wanted to do music,” Millenkamp said. “‘The Voice’ is a big leap for me. I knew it would give me a big platform.”

Although Millenkamp made it onto television screens across America during her performance, this wasn’t her first time auditioning for the NBC show. Prior to her on-screen debut, she previously auditioned at an open call and had not made it through.

Later, she was invited back to audition another time, which led to the taping of the “blind audition” this summer, she said.

Although Millenkamp has performed in shows around Ames and sang at last year’s ISU Homecoming Parade, the ‘The Voice’ audition was the largest career-move she’s made, she said.

“This is the biggest thing I’ve ever done,” Millenkamp said.

The self-taught artist now has connections to the country singer who she can look to as a mentor, she said.

“It’s really humbled me as a musician, just getting this opportunity,” Millenkamp said.

While the experience placed Millenkamp in front of thousands of viewers, she encourages those interested in music to share their voice with any crowd — no matter the size.

“I know this sounds (cliche), but put yourself out there,” Millenkamp said. “Don’t give up; keep pursuing that dream — the right doors will open up at the right time.”

“The Voice” airs on NBC on Monday and Tuesday nights at 7 p.m. central.

“I would just like to say thanks to everybody that’s been supporting me on campus and from (the state of) Iowa,” Millenkamp said. “It’s been really cool to see all of the people supporting (me).”