By: Saraana Jamraj
When a Destiny Rayne belted out “To Make You Feel My Love” by Adele, on The Voice, the judges certainly felt it and returned some of that love.
Ten episodes into the season, she’s still making the city proud and is advancing to the next round after being fought over by the judges.
Rayne, 23, lived in Coral Springs from the time she was four up until earlier this year, when she and her husband, Jake Bonner, 24, moved to Nashville to focus on music.
“I loved growing up in Coral Springs, it’s a beautiful city, I love that it feels so family orientated, and it’s such a beautiful part of Florida. It’s South Florida’s hidden gem,” said Rayne.
She said the support from the community and her family is what helps her immensely throughout the competition.
“All of the love I’ve received from people in Coral Springs has been what keeps me going, and staying positive and grounded,” said Rayne.
In addition to living in the city for most of her life, she’s also been singing just as long. Beginning at the age of three, she was inspired after watching the movie, “Selena.”
“Selena Quintanilla’s story left such an impression on me. I immediately knew pursuing singing was something I wanted to do,” said Rayne.
She loves music and singing because of its unique ability to tell a story with raw emotion, believing it is the most important and impactful way to express her feelings.
“When you can’t find the words, music speaks volumes,” said Rayne.
Selena Quintanilla, Elton John, Demi Lovato, Ariana Grande, and Christina Aguilera are her musical influences; however, it was her dad, Elijah Thomas, 43, who is her biggest personal influence. At the beginning of her childhood, Rayne was raised by her single mother, Gaby Thomas, 44. When she was nine, her mother married Elijah Thomas, who then adopted her, a decision she said changed her life forever.
“I don’t even think of him as my ‘stepdad’ because he is my dad, he raised me, and he’s been a constant love and support for me through the highs and lows of my life. His heart and passion for working hard in everything he does have influenced me to pursue my dreams and work hard at what I love,” said Rayne.
That is what she did—pursued her dreams, even when doors were seemingly closed. She first chose to audition for The Voice two years ago at an open call in Chicago but did not make it through. Rayne felt disappointed but chose to be fueled by the rejection rather than defeated. She went on to write music, release an EP, and start a YouTube channel.
Then, she received an email from The Voice about an open mic night, where artists could showcase their talent at a local café in LA. She sent a tape from that open mic to The Voice, and in return, was invited to audition for the first time.
There, she put it all the line, taking on vocal giant, Adele. Halfway through the performance, coach John Legend turned his chair for her. Gwen Stefani followed, and the two judges fought for her to choose them, and be on their teams.
Ultimately, she chose Legend, who she was hoping would turn for her.
In the battle rounds, she faced off against her teammate and opponent, Katie Kadan, as they sang “Tiny Dancer” by Elton John together. The pair vocally soared with rich tones and impressive delivery, but Kadan was deemed the winner by Legend, meaning she could have been sent home.
However, continuing to impress, Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton both chose to “steal” her, hitting their buttons to bring the singer to their teams. The judges, who are in a relationship, battled it out for the singer once again.
“I don’t want to fight with my girlfriend, but I’m willing to for you,” said Shelton.
Stefani fought back and told Rayne that even though Shelton had the most wins on the show, she had the longest career, and promised to help her bring out her personality and ability to connect with audiences.
She chose Gwen, grateful for the fact that the No Doubt singer turned twice for her.
“I am extremely grateful they decided to turn for me. It means everything knowing that two huge artists in the industry heard me sing and wanted me on their team,” said Rayne, who also noted that she feels very blessed.
In addition to music, family, and friends, what guides and inspires her is her faith. Before joining the competition, she sang gospel music, inspired by her Christianity. The one message she hopes to send to viewers is that God has a plan for everyone.
“If you would’ve told me a year ago that I would be on The Voice, I would’ve never believed you. Because back then, it seemed like all music doors had shut, but in reality, it was just the beginning. I’ve never been more ready for this moment in my life than now,” she said.
Viewers can tune in and follow her journey on Team Gwen, as The Voice returns on NBC October 28 and 29 for back-to-back episodes, where Taylor Swift will mentor all the singers.
Saraana Selene Jamraj is a writer, activist, and a student pursuing her Master’s Degree in Mass Communications at Florida International University.
She’s currently the Communications Manager at The Salt Box in Parkland and has lived in Coral Springs since 2004.
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