Kelly Clarkson picks a singer from Poway for her ‘Voice’ team


What does it feel like to have Kelly Clarkson and Alicia Keys in a tug of war over you?

Those two judges on NBC’s “The Voice” vied to recruit homegrown Poway singer Jackie Foster, 22, to their respective teams for this season’s talent competition.

“I was just in shock,” Foster said. “To hear them talk back and forth was just insane.”

Foster was singing Pink’s power anthem, “What About Us,” during blind auditions on “The Voice” broadcast Monday when first Clarkson, then Keys, hit their buzzers and swiveled their chairs around to face her.

While noting both singers would be amazing coaches and that she has listened to both throughout her life, she picked Clarkson.

“Kelly did turn around for me first,” Foster said during a phone interview from her Boston apartment.

Foster favors pop rock. When growing up, she said “people constantly compared me to Kelly Clarkson. They’d say, ‘You have a tremendous range, just like Kelly does.’”

As both coaches lobbied to be Foster’s pick, TV cameras shifted to show host Carson Daly, with Jackie’s mom, dad and other family members cheering for her on a side stage. “Someone pinch me,” Foster said as she re-joined them. “I’m not sure if this is real.”

The Poway High School graduate is now a senior at Berklee College of Music in Boston, where she also sings in an alternative rock band that creates original music.

Although she grew up watching “The Voice,” Foster never dreamed of trying out. That is, until she was contacted by NBC producers. They had seen her on YouTube and asked her to audition.

“The rest is history. In the blink of an eye, my life completely changed,” Foster says. “I never expected to be on that stage.”

Like many “Voice” candidates, Foster has a back story. She says she was badly bullied in Poway middle school and high school. “I was easily hurt by a lot of things. I hadn’t grown a tough skin yet.”

She credits, not a music coach, but her Poway science teacher Brian FitzGerald and counselor Traci Barker-Ball for putting her on the path to success.

When bullying became unbearable, “I used to sit in his (FitzGerald’s) classroom, and he would take the time to talk to me and get me through those hard times,” Foster recalls. “If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have pursued my love of music and my passions in life.”

Barker-Ball, likewise, gave her a chance to be a peer counselor. “ I got to speak out about my story ... and that gave me the opportunity to believe in myself.”

In this era of mean tweets and social media assaults when you’re in the public eye, Foster says she might not be able to stand the spotlight if she hadn’t gone through difficult times in school. “I know who I am, and I’m proud of who I am,” she says.

When in San Diego, Foster says she loves performing at Bernardo Winery, Orfila Winery and the Rancho Bernardo Inn.

“I am so proud to be a San Diegan. San Diego has shown me nothing but love and support since I started singing at age 8.”

She hopes fans will keep following her journey on her “Jackie Foster” Facebook page as she next performs in “The Voice” battle round eliminations, which begin at 8 p.m. on March 19.