It's been a wild ride for former Glen Carbon resident Tess Boyer.
She spent months rehearsing, taping and performing live on the TV show "The Voice" before viewers voted to eliminate her from competition last week.
Even before the bad news, Tess, 21, had been thinking about what would come next. She knew the national exposure had changed everything.
"I honestly want to get signed (by a record label)," she said in a telephone interview before the elimination. "I want to put out an album and tour. I want to work toward my music career.
"I don't think it's right to be on the show and then go back home to my normal life."
That life included studying pre-law at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, singing with the Smash Band and teaching at Krupinski Academy of Dance in Chesterfield, Missouri.
For the past six months, Tess has been living off and on in a Los Angles hotel room. Her "job" was honing her performance skills and keeping calm and focused during the roller coaster of steals and saves in "The Voice" competition.
"It's been perfect," Tess said. "I've had ups and downs, but I've really learned about myself in terms of strength. I've been able to get through every round, even with all the curveballs thrown at me.
"It's been very touching, very enriching. It's been a very empowering experience."
Tess had the opportunity to work with three famous singers as coaches. She originally was picked in a solo-chair turnaround by Usher, then was stolen by Blake Shelton and later Shakira.
Each star had a different coaching style. Tess found all to be "friendly, down-to-earth and humble."
Tess particularly enjoyed Shakira, a 37-year-old Colombian singer, songwriter, dancer, record producer, choreographer and model.
"Shakira is absolutely wonderful," Tess said. "She is just very tender-hearted. She is just very invested in our performances and who we are as artists.
"She is just very excited, and she just has one of those personalities that you could hang out with her all day."
Tess is the daughter of the Rev. Roy Boyer, pastor of Harvest Community Church in Pontoon Beach, and his wife, Teresa, regional marketing manager for Heartland Hospice. The Boyers also have a son, Brooks, 24, and a daughter, Tori, 18.
The family moved from Granite City to Glen Carbon when Tess was a child. She graduated from Edwardsville High School in 2010.
Tess's singing talent first surfaced in church. She was about 5 when her father handed her a microphone and she belted out "Jesus, Lover of My Soul."
"Apparently, people couldn't believe that such a big voice could come out of such a small body," she said.
Tess went on to enter singing competitions and pageants and took dance classes. She performed more than 10 years with the Muny Kids and Muny Teens and co-captained the varsity dance team at Edwardsville High School.
After graduation, Tess majored in vocal performance at Lee University in Tennessee before returning to St. Louis to become a Rams cheerleader for a year and enrolling at SIUE.
Tess sang about two years with the Smash Band, which performs at festivals, weddings and corporate events.
"It's everything from classic rock to Top 40," said Tess, who is known for her powerful renditions of "I'm the Only One" by Melissa Etheridge and "Paris (Ooh La La)" by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals.
Tess tried out for "The Voice" last summer at Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis. She was the last person to audition after waiting several hours.
Taping began in October at Universal Studios in Los Angeles. She and other competitors lived weeks at a time in the same hotel and became close friends, despite their rivalry.
"I just want to say 'thank you' to everybody (back home) for their unconditional love and support," Tess said. "I honestly am very, very proud to be from the St. Louis area."