Number of contestants will be cut from 13 to 11 this week

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FARMINGTON — While serving, and advancing, as a contestant on the NBC-TV series "The Voice" this season, Farmington High School junior Chevel Shepherd has worked herself into a challenging routine — albeit one she says she is enjoying tremendously.

Now that the season-long competition has progressed to the live-performances stage, Shepherd is living in Los Angeles full time and will remain there until and unless she is eliminated. The program airs twice a week, on Mondays and Tuesdays, with contestants performing on the first day, then finding out the next day if they've accumulated enough votes from the public to move on to the next round.

More: Farmington teen advances again on NBC-TV's 'The Voice'

That 24-hour wait is a tough one, Shepherd said during a phone interview Thursday from Los Angeles as she prepared for her next appearance on the program Monday.

"Mondays are the fun days," she said, explaining that the excitement of performing before a live audience on national TV is an experience she relishes.

What follows isn't nearly as enjoyable, as contestants must wait a day to find out their fate. Shepherd said her feelings about wanting to win are complicated by the fact that she has built friendships with the other performers over weeks of rehearsals and performances, and wants to see them do well, too.

By the time she returns the "The Voice" stage at Universal Studios on Tuesdays, she said, it's been an emotionally trying time.

"I'm pretty sure everyone dreads them," she said.

Shepherd will be back at it this week. "The Voice" season continues through Dec. 17-18, with contestants eliminated each week. The number of performers will be cut from 13 to 11 this week, 11 to 10 the following week, 10 to eight the week after that, and eight to four ahead of the final two episodes. Only then will the winner — who receives a recording contract — be selected.

More: Farmington teen will appear live on NBC-TV's 'The Voice'

Shepherd said she's been able to maintain a one-week-at-a-time approach throughout the process. She acknowledged that task has gotten more difficult as she has advanced and the possibility of winning has become more distinct. But she said she's not going to let herself become distracted.

"I've been able to put it on the side and focus on my performance," she said.

One thing working in her favor is the schedule she leads, which leaves little time for letting her imagination run away with her. When Shepherd isn't working with a tutor to keep up with her school work during her time away from FHS, she is rehearsing her performance for the next episode.

If she advances again this week, Shepherd will maintain that schedule even through Thanksgiving. She'll spend the holiday in Los Angeles with her mother, who has accompanied her throughout the process, and away from the rest of her family.

"I miss my dad a lot and my dogs and my best friend," she said. "But I really am enjoying it a lot because I'm so close to everything out here."

Another element that consumes her time, Shepherd said, is her selection of material. Program staff members work with her to find songs that not only suit her voice, but that appeal to her on a personal level. Shepherd said she spends increasing amounts of time listening to music hoping to find something that clicks with her style.

"I listen to a lot of newer and older country," she said.

More: Farmington teen wows 'The Voice' crowd in live show tonight

Shepherd has been in Los Angeles since Nov. 3, and she said as her profile on the program has increased, she's had to learn to deal with becoming a celebrity, even in a city that is full of them. She said she is commonly recognized in her hotel, at the airport and in restaurants.

Win or lose, Shepherd knows this is only the beginning of her singing career. She already has a firm idea of what she wants to do next.

"I want to start writing and performing my own music, and putting out my own albums for the world to see and hear," she said.

Viewers have several ways to participate in the voting process for "The Voice." They can download the program's app at nbc.com/Voiceapp, or they can go online to nbc.com/VoiceVote or Xfinity.com/VoiceVote. Viewer also can visit apple.com/apple-music/ and vote by streaming the music of the artist of their choice.

Mike Easterling is the night editor of The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4610.

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