By John Burton
TINTON FALLS – Jacquie Lee may not have taken top prize as one of the finalists on NBC’s “The Voice,” but her manager said, “She won weeks ago.”
Marc Swersky, reached the morning after the Tuesday night finals, was commenting on how far Lee had gone at the age of 16. She had not just won the hearts of those in the Two River area, but also across the country, he said.
Lee’s immediate and extended family and many others “are all just blown away by what Jacquie has accomplished,” Swersky said.
Lee, a Colts Neck resident and a Ranney School junior, was one of three finalists on “The Voice,” the hit reality/performance TV show on NBC. During the show’s season finale, Lee was bested by Tessanne Chin. Lee and fellow finalist Will Champlin had squared off against Chin this week, performing on Monday evening’s show with vote totals tallied and the winner announced on Tuesday.
This was clearly a success story for the young singer, Swersky said.
“Everybody knows who she is,” he said, noting Lee has gained more than 113,000 Twitter followers in the 12 weeks she has been competing on “The Voice.”
The morning after the show’s season closer, Lee was a very busy teenager with a jam-packed schedule that included appearances on MTV, “Access Hollywood” and interviews for numerous media outlets, according to Swersky.
“She’s being approached by everybody under the sun,” he said.
The future could be pretty busy for her too, he said.
Lee is expected to appear in the Rose Bowl Parade, riding along on a float with other finalists from “The Voice.” She is scheduled to sing at the season-closing home game for the N.Y. Giants at MetLife Stadium and will sing the national anthem at an upcoming N.Y. Knicks basketball game.
Other performances are to be announced shortly, according to Swersky.
The day after the competition ended, those who knew Lee were excited about her strong finish.
“We’re so proud as to how far she got in the competition,” said John Griffith, Ranney’s head of school. “It’s amazing, especially given she’s a talented 16-year-old competing against professionals.”
What is particularly amazing is Lee’s ability to pursue her dream and continue to keep up her responsibilities, including her schoolwork while working with a tutor as she competed on the show.
“She has that drive and passion and balance,” Griffith said.
Her fellow students and school staff will have some sort of homecoming celebration in the near future, Griffith said.
It’s was nail-biting time for Lee Monday night as she prepared to sing Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black” for her final performance. But it seemed to be an equally exciting time for students and staff who filled into Ranney’s Panther Hall to watch the show on a large screen and offer their moral support.
David Piskun, a 12-year-old seventh-grader from Marlboro, said he was excited and hopeful on Monday. “I think she’s amazing and she’s been doing amazing,” he said. “This shows the average girl or boy can become a national figure, can realize their dreams.”
Chiara Shah, who teaches English at the school and whose own children attend the school, was on hand to watch and cheer. “The fact that she’s out there pursuing her passion is amazing.”
Shah, who taught Lee last year, said, “She’s the sweetest girl and it’s great she’s gone this far.”
After Lee’s performance, Maddie Fabricant, 17, a senior from Ocean Township who is also a singer, said, “Jacquie always kills it,” the way she delivers the song.
“She’s fabulous,” Fabricant said. “She opens her mouth and crazy notes come out.
“There’s always going to be odds to beat, but if you put your mind to it, you can do it,” Fabricant said.