The feeling of competing on a reality TV singing show is a dream many fantasize about, but few will experience. Maria Cristina Maass, a former SFUAD international student, is one of those lucky few.
Going by her stage name Cris Maass, her Spanish performance of “Somebody to Love” by Queen prompted two judges to select her for their teams following her audition for the Mexican version of the popular TV series “The Voice” known as La Voz Mexico.
“Ricky Martin didn’t (turn his chair) and I was sad because of that!” jokes Maass over an email interview as she prepares for the up-coming Knock-Out rounds, having successfully passed the Battle round.
Maass, a 26-year-old performer living in Mexico City where she performs regularly with her band “The Walking Band”, attended SFUAD in the spring of 2012 to study musical theater, performing in the theater department’s New Student Showcase and as one of the doo-wop girls in Little Shop of Horrors.
“My time at SFUAD was incredible. I learned so many important things. I found great friends, classmates, and teachers…everybody was really valuable and talented. Studying in Santa Fe was a goal finally achieved, the perfect opportunity. I can say that I have taken all the training from SFUAD to every audition, performance, and every show I have been to after that time.”
“The Voice” was first aired in The Netherlands in 2010 before spreading to the United States, where it became a hit in 2011. Many other countries have since followed suit and developed their own versions. The format consists of four celebrity musician judges who sit in front of the stage in revolving chairs. At the start of the season, the judges sit with their backs to the stage for “blind auditions,” only being able to hear the singers in order to judge solely on voice. If a judge likes a singer, they hit a big button and swing their chair around, picking that artist for their team. If two judges pick the same contestant, the contestant must choose for themselves. After each judge has picked a team, the remainder of the season consists of battles, knock-out rounds, and finally live shows, all whittling down to the final performer who wins the show and is “the voice.”
Maass, having been selected by two judges, choose Team Yuri due to Yuri’s experience in the Latin American music industry for 30+ years and her reputation during the 80s as being a “Mexican Madonna.”
“Yuri has been a really involved coach in every aspect. She takes us to get coffee and hang out with us, she even organized a pajama party, she invited us to concerts and last week we sang with her and we will sing in the National Auditorium in Mexico City which is a very important music venue. I am very glad I chose her.”
When asked how it felt to be picked, Maass responds that she felt “relieved and very happy.”
“You only have one minute and a half to impress and tell them that your voice is why they have turn around. It is a blind vow of trust.”
Maass says that her primary reason for wanting to audition was to garner publicity and a greater social media presence for herself and her band.
“I didn´t want to audition. But time passed, and some friends from theater started to participate in previous seasons and I saw that at the end of their participation at La Voz Mexico they had more media exposure and more job opportunities. Then I thought ‘why not? Maybe that would help my career.’” So I auditioned in order to have a space where people in Mexico and other countries can get to know me as a singer and an artist.”
Maass has proved to be quite savvy at the social media aspect of competitive reality TV, understanding that “talent counts but social media and your network are the most important thing in these type of shows and for the music industry in general.” Her official La Voz Mexico artist Facebook page has 2,522 followers and she is diligent about posting videos, pictures, and updates to keep her fans involved.
Overall, Maass says her experience on the show has been “awesome” and she’s been thrilled to learn more about television production due to her degree in media communications and musical theater.
Unfortunately, Maass was eliminated during the Knock-Out rounds on Nov. 16, but she’s taking it in stride.
“During the show I was presented as a ‘rock girl’ and it really created a good image of me and brought more publicity for my band. I´m satisfied. Of course I would have liked to reach the final and sing more suitable songs for me, but I´m happy with what I achieved at La Voz Mexico: the people I met, the experience, the publicity, the advice… everything happened at the right time for me and for my future projects and also to see what I have to keep improving, because learning never ends.”