When 40-year-old Melburnian Tarryn Stokes took to the stage to audition for Australia’s much-loved singing competition, she was nervous but ready to let her voice shine. In her blind audition for The Voice Australia, Stokes’ powerful voice saw all four coaches turn to invite her to their team. Having her pick of the crop, she chose international pop singer, Rita Ora to be her coach and mentor.
Growing up in a musical family, Stokes’ earliest childhood memories involve singing and making music. “My mum plays piano, she’s a music teacher. My dad’s got an amazing voice. My uncle is an opera singer. My sister played drums in a band. My brother was in a choir. We grew up playing music and expressing ourselves musically,” Stokes tells Eternity.
“I’ve always pursued music in some way, whether it be singing at church, worship leading, singing in the Melbourne Gospel Choir, teaching or writing songs,” she says.
For Stokes, music feels like a gift that God has given her and one that she, in turn, gets to give to others. “I love singing to encourage others. That’s why I love teaching so much too, because I can share technique and encouragement with other singers,” she says.
Her progression in the competition so far has felt like a case of the “right time and right place.” Despite the sense of purpose she has felt in the process, the experience of balancing the competition, filming and family life has been a new challenge for Stokes. “The blind audition was full on. I have two small children, aged two and four. Getting them up to Sydney and entertaining them backstage for many hours was interesting,” shares Stokes. “I was, with my husband, parenting and also getting myself ready to sing on national television,” she says.
Going back to Sydney for callbacks was Stokes’ first time being away from her children. With the support of her husband, they made it work so that she could pursue the opportunity. “It was a lot of preparation. It was managing the balance of life, making sure that my family are okay,” says Stokes.
“There have been seasons in the past where I felt like I haven’t had a voice. This feels like a time to sing out, a time to heal.” – Tarryn Stokes
Her encouragement to mums is not to give up on their own dreams but to know that it’s okay to step out after having kids when you feel ready. “I think we put ourselves under so much pressure as mums to do it all: career, kids and be amazing at everything. I spent many years as a new mum saying no to everything because I didn’t want to be spread too thin. It’s only now that I feel like it’s the right time,” she says.
Stokes shares that her time in The Voice competition has been a healing season. “I felt there have been seasons in the past where I felt like I haven’t had a voice. This feels like a time to sing out, a time to heal,” she says. “When I sang ‘Anyone’ by Demi Lovato in on the show, that was from my heart. From a place and a time when I was going through a lot.” She speaks candidly about her journey with mental health, particularly about her experience with postnatal depression and ADHD: “There were times when I had postnatal depression where I just called out to God and was desperate to feel better.”
Stokes openly shares that she works with a Christian psychologist to let go of limiting beliefs and to learn techniques that support her in this journey. “It’s important to be honest about this stuff and that helps other people to be open too,” she says.
Her passion for singing has kept her on this winding path, and the future looks bright as she heads into the semi-finals of The Voice competition. She feels ready to take on whatever comes next in her music career. “I’ve had years of not having confidence and not believing in myself. I feel like I’m just going to step out and see what happens. If I get opportunities to sing, then I’m blessed to be a blessing,” says Stokes.
In the future, she wants to continue to help people with her voice, for example by partnering with charities and visiting hospitals to brighten people’s day. “I want to do some good with the gift I’ve been given,” she says.
Stokes encourages others that “it’s never too late to go for your dreams. Being 40 years old in the music industry is not always what people do. Sometimes God’s timing is later than you think, but you’re ready for it.”
You can watch the semi-finals of The Voice Australia on Channel 7 and 7plus, on Sunday, 24 September at 7pm.