Carmel High School graduate shakes off nerves to earn spot on ‘The Voice’


Morgan Taylor Koontz began performing in musicals when she was 9.

The 2019 Carmel High School graduate has sung solo in public numerous times — such as at CarmelFest Has Talent and at Urban Vines — through the years and was selected as a Songbook Academy finalists in 2019.

But her blind audition performance for “The Voice” was another level of challenging.

“Personally speaking, I don’t think there is any amount of performing I would have done to prepare for the amount of nerves you feel when you go on that stage,” Koontz said. “Especially when you know it’s been recorded and in front of these incredibly talented and well-known artists right in front of you. The more you do it, the easier it gets, but that first time was really a different experience performing.”

Koontz, who performs as Morgan Taylor, shook off the nerves and earned a spot on Season 22 of “The Voice” on NBC with her rendition of Lizzo’s “Cuz I Love You.” The performance was taped a few months ago but it aired Sept. 26.

Blake Shelton quickly turned his chair around to indicate support, followed by the other three judges, Gwen Stefani, John Legend and Camilia Cabello.

All four judges made a pitch to have Koontz on their team.

“When (Shelton) turned around, it was so early on, I felt that I did a double-take,” said Koontz, who majors in commercial music and songwriting at Belmont University in Nashville. “The excitement really got to me. I think that showed in my performance, because in that moment what would you be doing if you weren’t singing? You’d be screaming to yourself. There’s a lot of adrenaline. There was one bit where I thought about what I was doing, and I had to reel myself back in and finish strong.”

Koontz said it is “super weird” to describe the feeling she had unless one had been in that position.

“You can’t even imagine it until you are there,” said Koontz, who is in an ensemble group at Belmont.

Koontz, who views her genre as soulful pop, chose Legend as her coach because he best fits her style.

“I wanted to go with John from the get-go,” she said. “But I won’t lie, I really reconsidered my choices because all of the arguments, I was reconsidering all of them. I’m happy I chose John in the end because I really like working with him. But I think you can’t go wrong with any of them, honestly.”

Koontz said musically speaking, Legend’s style is the closest to what her original music sounds like.

“Vocally, he has the most to offer, but genre-wise, he also made the most sense,” she said.

Koontz submitted audition tapes and was invited to Los Angeles for the blind audition.

“The rest is the history,” said Koontz, who was a three-year member of the Ambassadors, the mixed show choir at CHS.

The taping was a few months ago, so she had to keep her selection a secret. Her parents, Angela and Scott Gallagher, attended the audition.

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