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Ashland Craft talks: 'The Voice' was a challenge and intimidating, but I was shocked to land in the bottom


By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 12/12/2017 

Ashland Craft and Shi'Ann Jones were eliminated from The Voice last week when the Season 13 competition determined its Top 8 artists.

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Ashland, a 21-year-old from Piedmont, SC, and Shi'Ann, a 15-year-old from Paducah, KY, were ousted from the The Voice instead of Davon Fleming, a 25-year-old worship leader from Baltimore, MD, who was the other artist in the bottom three based on home viewer votes cast following the December 4 performance show.

America tweeted to "instantly save" Davon after all three artists performed a survival song during the December 5 results show. Ashland represented Miley Cyrus' team, while both Shi'Ann and Davon were members of Jennifer Hudson's team.

Following her elimination, Ashland talked to Reality TV World about her experience on The Voice. Below is what she had to say.

Reality TV World: What was going through your mind when it was announced you had fallen into the bottom three with Davon and Shi'Ann? Were you nervous to sing your survival song, "Tonight I Want To Cry" by Keith Urban? And after taking the stage, what did you predict was going to happen?

Ashland Craft: Yes, so it started, you know, kind of dwindling down. And once I kind of came to the realization that I was probably going to be in bottom three, I really just kind of looked back on my experience and I was satisfied to say that I had really accomplished everything that I wanted to out of this whole thing.

And so, I was honestly kind of excited to sing my last-chance song -- obviously not for the reason that we were meant to sing the song for -- but just because it was a song that really showed a side of me that nobody has really gotten to see yet on the show.

So, I was just kind of excited to put that out there and, you know, just lay it all out there for one last shot. But yes, I'm satisfied with my performances on the show. I'm satisfied with how far I've made it. I definitely didn't think I'd make it this far. I couldn't be more grateful.

Reality TV World: Miley commended you last night on how much you've been able to accomplish throughout the entire competition. Without getting into too much detail though, she acted like you've overcome a lot to get to live shows. So could you talk a little bit about that? Why was the journey a struggle for you at times?

Ashland Craft: I wouldn't really say it was a struggle. It was just a little bit of a challenge because I haven't competed since I was maybe 14 years old. And so, I've always been in an environment where people came to the venue just to see me. 

And so, being put in a situation where you're having to win people over in the audience that have never heard you before, it was a little bit intimidating. So it wasn't necessarily a struggle.

It was just more of a challenge for me to make sure that I was not only singing my best, but I was performing my best. And I would say that it's very obvious to see, throughout the progression of the show, how much I turned into a performer instead of just a singer.

Reality TV World: How do you feel about your song choice for Monday night's performance show, "I Hate Myself For Loving You" by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts. Looking back, do you wish you had picked a different song? You said last night you planned to show America a softer side of yourself if you stuck around another week, so do you wish you had taken that opportunity earlier?

Ashland Craft: I do wish that would have happened this week. I will say that. But I think Miley really wanted to make this a bigger performance because I think [Janice Freeman] leaving made her worried, obviously. But I do say I wish I would have gotten the chance to show that. 

But I definitely wouldn't take anything back, obviously, like I'm just super proud of my performance from Monday, and it was everything I wanted it to be.

And, you know, when I first heard that I was doing the song, I automatically had like a picture in my head of how it was going to go, and it went exactly like that. So I wouldn't change that part of it. I'm satisfied with my performance. But I do wish I would have gotten the chance to show that softer side of me.

Reality TV World: Who do you think will win The Voice this season? Do you think there is at least a frontrunner?

Ashland Craft: Honestly, that is a very hard question for me because there's way too many people that I would take as winners. I don't think I could just pinpoint one honestly because everybody is so good, and we're all in our own lane as far as the music that we're doing.

So, it's really hard to kind of separate that and pinpoint a winner out of those because everybody's so amazing. So, honestly, I don't have an answer for you... It's very hard to even think of who would win. I think the biggest thing is the fact that it's in America's hands, so everybody has a different taste in music. So it's really just what America is feeling, you know?

Also during The Voice conference call with reporters, Ashland talked about whether she was surprised to land in the bottom three to begin with -- and much more.

Were you surprised to be in the bottom this week?

Ashland Craft: I was shocked. Yes, I would say that. I think we all would be because, as a whole, we look at each other as such talented musicians. And honestly, when it comes time for the eliminations, you know, we all are just dumbfounded by who we think would be in the bottom, because we have no clue.

But, unfortunately, that's in America's hands and we have no control over that, really. So I was a little surprised. But you take everything as it comes to you and you kind of run with it. So I'm grateful that, you know, I've got as much exposure and experience as I did. 

I came into this competition hoping for a chair turn; I got three [coaches to turn]. And it was like, "Okay. Maybe I'll get one performance or one more performance on TV," but yet, I made it all the way to Top 10. So, at this point, you know, I'm not complaining at all for how far I've gotten in this competition at all.

How comfortable were you with your Instant Save song, "Tonight I Want To Cry," and how much preparation did you have? Also, anything you'd change about that performance when looking back on it?

Ashland Craft: I was actually pretty comfortable with the song because when I gig back home, I do a lot of, you know, country music, country rock, but I also do a lot of bunch of older rock hits too. So it was kind of right up my alley, even though it wasn't really country. 

But the cool thing about it was getting to put my own little spin on it to make it sound more like a country song. And so, as far as changing anything about it, I really can't think of anything that I would change about it. I feel like I left everything out there, which is what I've tried to do every single time... So yes, I think it was great.

Tell me what it was like to work with your coach, Miley. Did you get to choose your own songs? And what did she say to you after you were eliminated?

Ashland Craft: Yes, so the experience working with Miley was obviously extremely amazing. Luckily, she was a very hands-on coach, and so she was involved in everything, from the song choice to wardrobe. It was just every little thing she wanted to be hands-on with.

And that was a great thing to have, because that's what I really wanted out of this experience. And we would kind of collaborate on song choices. She would give me ideas, I would give her ideas, and we would just kind of go back and forth and talk about our likes and dislikes for each song.

So it was always more of a collaborative effort than anything, and I thought that was kind of cool, that we both got to give our input on the song and then make a decision from there. So I'm really thankful that she was such an invested and hands-on coach.

Now that you're finished with the show, what do you see yourself doing next?

Ashland Craft: For me, my next step, obviously, going home. I have a band back home that I started putting together before I actually started the show, and so the plan is to go back home with them and start planning out our gigs and our shows.

And I hope that songwriting will be a major part of my life for the next year or so. That's something I really would like to work on. And so, yes, it's just going to be a bunch of collaborative writing and playing shows and trying to make a bigger name for myself than I have already -- and hopefully traveling around outside of South Carolina and inside South Carolina.

I want to play at my hometown as much as possible, but yes, I just really want to make great music and give people a great show... [Songwriting is] my weak point, I would say, as far as the music goes.

That's something that's kind of struck me as a challenge. So now that I know a lot more people in the industry that are amazing songwriters, I can count on them to bounce ideas off of. I'm really going to try to do that within the next year or so.

Could you talk a little bit about what it was like to be on a nearly all-female team?

Ashland Craft: Absolutely. It was the most, I feel like the most uplifting and encouraging team that could have ever been placed in front of me and beside me.

It's like when we first got the chance to watch our Blind Auditions, we all sat in a room, and we just hugged and cried, because we were all so proud out of each other. And when you think about an all-female team, your mind automatically goes to like cattiness and drama, but there was absolutely none of that.

Every single girl on the team was just amazing, and so, it really just enhanced the experience even more. I would not change it at all. It was cool to be a part of this first all-female team on The Voice. I was blessed to be a part of it.

During The Voice's next live results show on December 12, the four semifinalists will be narrowed down to four Season 13 finalists based on America's vote. 



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