Ddendyl Hoyt Rocks The Voice

Crescendo issue: April 2014
The Interlochen community has had a lot of rooting to do these last few weeks.

While Camp alumnus Sam Woolf has been showing up impressively week after week on "American Idol," another Interlochen musician has had an impressive journey through reality TV. Although her experience within that chaotic realm ended on April 1, her overall musical journey is still gaining momentum, thanks to the legion of fans and follwers she has gained in recent weeks.

Ddendyl Hoyt (IAA 03-06) caught the attention of Interlochen alumni and others during the backstory portion of her first appearance on NBC’s "The Voice" when she mentioned that she attended Interlochen Arts Academy as a voice major. From that moment on, she has wowed the program's coaches and won fans night after night.

The popular primetime program features a panel of music coaches who compete to recruit talented singers to their team. In a sort of blind audition, the coaches listen to each singer with their backs turned to them. If they like what they hear and want to invite the singer to join their team, they press a button and their chair spins around to face the performer. The coaches this season include Shakira, Adam Levine (of Maroon 5), Usher and Blake Shelton. Once coaches have selected their teams, they invite other big-name musical artists to teach their artists, who compete against each other in musical battles. The show is set-up to showcase each singer’s talents but is also a competition between the coaches to see whose singer is the last one standing after weeks of performing and voting. 

It was just after Ddendyl had “easily” made it through her first "battle round" that we caught up with her to talk about her Voice experience and beyond.

“Like Carson Daly said, ‘all you need is one,’” says Ddendyl. “From the moment Shakira turned, I floated up to cloud nine. I knew she couldn't turn back around once she hit her button, so no matter what, I was on the show. I could have literally dropped the mic and still would have been on her team so the rest of the song was just about performing to the best of my ability and praying that I wouldn't get too excited and forget the words.”

“I was singing in D.C. and Philadelphia as a lounge singer, five to six nights a week,” she said. “My days were filled with recording and writing new music that will hopefully be released soon. Music is my full-time job, and I am very lucky to be doing what I love for a living. So few artists can say that, so I am truly blessed.”

That bit of “blessed” led her to a stage where she could stream into households across the nation and world every week.

“It's a very long journey,” Ddendyl said of her effort to reach "The Voice" stage. “There are several rounds the public does not see. There are also rounds in which you just sit and wait for a phone call with either good news or bad. But the whole process is worth it. You make so many friends and solid relationships that will last a lifetime. The experience of just being around so many talented and incredible people is amazing. We learn from each other and grow together. There were so many nights when everyone was circled together singing their best representations of themselves while someone played guitar. Just being in that environment actually reminded me of being back at Interlochen.”

“I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from the coaches,” she continued. “To be honest, the mentors sometimes had more to say in our coaching sessions, but working with such huge names is a dream come true. They are definitely approachable. The show allows us to communicate with them off camera if we have questions or concerns about our songs or performances.”

“Interlochen was originally created for students who didn't quite fit in at other places,” she says. “I was one of those. I always felt a bit out of place in my public school. Sure, I had friends and good times but music was such a passion in my life, I felt crippled in my community and I was looking for a place where I could truly be myself as a wacky, opera-singing teen. The Academy stresses finding your true self and not being afraid to be you, whoever that may be. Of course, I learned incredible techniques that I still use, and without my music theory class I'm sure my writing would be garbage. But, I find that the encouragement I got to be creative, not just from my music teachers, but my English teachers, political science teachers, and students alike, is what I carry most from my time at Interlochen. That was my true education - to think outside the box and not just settle with average or ordinary.”

“Be a sponge,” says Ddendyl to those who aspire to musical success. “Listen to everything and learn as much as your brain will let you. And when being criticized, even if you don't agree, apply what you can to your art. It is so important to be adaptable, especially when you are just starting out in the industry. Take seriously all wisdom from others, but also learn to discard the nonsense. Not every piece of advice will be suited for you. And lastly, don't be afraid to try new things. The style I do now is so far from my operatic background, but by trying new things and testing my voice I figured out my true sound and it is what fits me best. It’s really about being open and following your heart.”