'The Voice' winner Chevel Shepherd planning Farmington concert in January
FHS junior home for holidays after triumph in Los Angeles
FARMINGTON — Local fans of country singer Chevel Shepherd won't have to wait long to hear the new winner of "The Voice" perform on her home turf.
Shepherd said today during a phone interview from Los Angeles that plans are already in the works for her to deliver a hometown concert sometime in January. She said a date and location for the show have not been set, but she was confident it would not be long before she was entertaining a local audience.
Shepherd was going through another round of interviews today — she said she's conducted nearly three dozen – since she was named the winner of the 15th season of "The Voice" Tuesday night at Universal Studios in Los Angeles, catapulting her to instant stardom. She had plans to fly home Saturday morning for her first visit to Farmington since early November, when she left home and arrived in southern California for the live-performance rounds of the season-long competition on "The Voice."
Shepherd's life won't immediately get any less hectic upon her return. A parade and rally in her honor are planned Saturday afternoon. The parade route will follow N.M. Highway 516 through Aztec and Flora Vista into Farmington, while the rally will take place at Scorpion Gym at Farmington High School, where Shepherd is a 16-year-old junior.
More:New Mexico’s Chevel Shepherd won ‘The Voice.' Here’s a look at her victory
Doors to the rally will open at 1 p.m. with seating going on a first-come, first-served basis. Shepherd is not expected to arrive at the rally until 2 p.m.
Shepherd said she didn't find out about the rally until this morning and was surprised to hear her return to her hometown would come in such grand fashion.
"I think it's really cool, and I'm super excited," she said.
Shepherd's return comes just in time for her to celebrate Christmas with her family, something she wasn't able to do for Thanksgiving. She spent that holiday in Los Angeles with her mother, as the weekly elimination rounds on "The Voice" were just heating up.
More:Why Chevel Shepherd's 'Voice' victory made coach Kelly Clarkson cry
She has a lot of things on her to-do list — namely, spending time with her family members and friends she hasn't seen in several weeks — but she said she had no time to do any Christmas shopping in Los Angeles. Shepherd's days there were filled with keeping up with her schoolwork with a tutor and rehearsing songs for "The Voice."
"That's something I'll do when I get back, although we have no time," she said, noting there are just a few days left before Christmas.
She also was looking forward to hitting some of her favorite restaurants over the next several days.
"I love Texas Roadhouse," she said, adding that Chick-fil-A and Taco Bell also rank among her favorites.
Shepherd's longer-term future is a little less clear. She said she'll return to classes at FHS for the spring semester, but as the winner of a Universal Music Group recording contract, she also plans to begin working on her debut album immediately with "The Voice" judge Kelly Clarkson, who served as her coach throughout the season.
Relocating to an entertainment metropolis like Los Angeles or Nashville isn't something that's in the works yet, she said.
"I'll be in Farmington until something changes," she said.
Plenty of decisions about her future still need to be made. Shepherd said she and her parents would be sitting down soon to talk about putting a band together for her, and she has plans to begin piano and guitar lessons soon. She also wants to start writing her own songs.
In addition to scheduling a concert in Farmington in January, Shepherd said she is working out the details of performing at the inaugural ball for Gov.-elect Michelle Lujan Grisham in January.
Shepherd said the past few days have been a whirlwind for her, and she now finds herself recognized almost everywhere she goes. The magnitude of what has taken place has been hard to absorb, she said.
"I'm sure it will sink in when I get off the plane," she said.
Shepherd said she already has given considerable thought to the kind of musical artist she wants to be. Her primary influences — Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton — are individuals she respects not just for their talent, but for their independence and strength, she said. She's also a fan of Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert and, of course, her coach and new friend, Clarkson.
Finding herself in the unique position of being just 16 years old and already having a career is something she insisted she's ready for.
"It's awesome because I've wanted to do this for a long time, so I feel blessed," she said.
She is also grateful for the way her hometown rallied behind her during her season-long quest on "The Voice."
"Thank you to Farmington," she said. "I wouldn't be here without you and all the love and support you gave me on my journey," she said.
Mike Easterling is the night editor of The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4610.