Parijita Bastola’s Facebook page is filled with well wishes from family and friends who have watched the 17-year-old Millersville resident perform throughout the years at school and local venues, honing her vocal talents in hopes of making it big one day.
Tuesday night, millions of viewers of NBC’s singing reality competition show, The Voice, learned Bastola’s name and felt her passion through her emotional rendition of Labrinth’s “Jealous.” The performance came on night four of the show’s blind auditions phase, and earned the teen the coveted four-chair turn – or unanimous selection — from all of its coaches: John Legend, Camila Cabello, Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani.
Bastola is the first ever Nepalese American on the show, and notes that “the pressure of success, I think, always exists in southeast Asian kids, even though I have such supporting and loving parents.”
“My parents watched my passion for music grow at such a young age, and once they realized it was something I was going to pursue, it grew into my family’s dream,” Bastola said. “I am watching my dream come true, along with my family’s dream, which makes this success 10 times better.”
During the blind audition phase in which Bastola performed, decisions are made by the coaches solely on vocals, without seeing the contestant. If a coach is impressed by the artist’s voice, they push a button to select the artist for their team. At this point, the coach’s chair will swivel so that they can face the artist they selected. If more than one coach pushes the button, the power then shifts to the artist to choose which coach they want to work with. If no one pushes their button, the artist is eliminated from the competition.
Bastola got the nod from all of the judges and a standing ovation. The judges were impressed by her vocal flourishes as well as the maturity of her voice at 17.
“That was probably my favorite song that anybody has sung so far, and the way you did it was masterful,” Cabello told Bastola. “I had goosebumps on my whole body. That breath control and extending those notes.”
“You are so natural and very unique,” Stefani said. “You’re so in touch with your heart, it’s incredible.”
“I think we both turned around at the same time when she did that one crazy note choice,” Cabello said to Stefani with Legend adding: “I turned around before them, just so you know. I see you Parijita. I see you.”
Legend asked if Bastola had brought any family with her.
“I did,” she said. “I brought my mom, my aunt and my dad. Since season 1, The Voice has always been our family show,” Bastola said. She said her family owned a small restaurant in Glen Burnie which closed on Mondays just so they could watch The Voice those evenings.
In an interview before her performance, Bastola credited The Voice with bringing her family together. “My cousin and I used to play Voice and we would take little chairs and pretend to be the coaches and our family would be the audience. “It was super fun.”
Legend asked Bastola if she favored music of her Nepalese culture. “I do listen to Nepalese music, but my favorite genre is R&B and soul,” she said.
“I know a coach up here that would be very good at working on R&B and soul,” Legend joked, referring to himself. “The best artists are able to bring the music of their culture and of their roots into the wider global landscape of music. I think your voice is that kind of transcendent voice and it would be an honor for me to work with you. We’d all be so lucky to work with you, but who do you pick as your coach?”
Bastola’s mother, father and aunt encouraged her to choose Legend as the coach to mentor her throughout the season, and she did.
After her performance, Legend called Bastola “one of our most formidable artists in this competition this season.”
The night the pre-recorded program aired, Bastola, her parents and dozens of her family, friends and neighbors gathered at her home off West Benfield Road where they all watched the show together. “It was an amazing night,” said Bastola’s mother, Bira Tiwari, on her social media feed. “All the family and friends on social media, we love you and thank you for your support.”
Bastola’s impressive performance on The Voice resulted in immediate social media reaction with over a million views of her performance on YouTube and among the top trending stories for the night on social media in the United States and in Nepal, where her sister still lives.
“I know that everyone from Nepal must feel so much pride and love through me, and I am so grateful to be that vessel or bridge from Nepal,” Bastola said. “My hometown is going absolutely crazy, I mean, everyone here knew how much music meant to me, and it is a part of my identity at school. I am witnessing nothing but genuine proud feelings from my friends, peers and teachers. This has been such a validating experience.”
Bastola, a Severna Park High School senior, is lead singer of her namesake band, Bastola, made up of friends. The group mostly performs at local venues, with a few out-of-state performances. In a published report, Bastola said she grew up around music, where her father previously owned an entertainment company. “Bands from Nepal would come to the United States and do USA tours and he would always have musicians over and they’re singing all night and they always encouraged me,” she said.
“I met her when she was 12 and now she is all of 17 and slaying The Voice on the international stage,” Abhaya Subba Weisse, founder of Nirbhaya Foundation and a singer/songwriter, said on a Facebook post. “Congratulations and I knew you would make it.”
“I’ve wanted this my whole life and now I’m experiencing it,” Bastola said. “It’s truly surreal. I feel like I am in a coming-of-age movie.”
Blind auditions are followed by battle rounds, knockouts and then live performance shows. Coaches decide who will make it to the next round. Producers are hush on who stays and who goes, and whether the final outcome is already known.
The winner of the show is determined by viewers’ votes with the chance to win $100,000 and a recording deal. The program airs on NBC on Mondays and Tuesdays at 8. The finale is expected to air in mid-December.