Local girl with the golden voice: A Q&A with Kristine and Addison Agen

(Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC) 

If you’ve been following this season of The Voice, you’re likely familiar with our hometown standout, Addison Agen. The 16-year-old performer is leading a whole new generation to timeless, iconic artists like Joni Mitchell and Bonnie Raitt, while delivering a fresh sound to those familiar with the lyrics. Her storyteller soul and angelic acoustics have the entire city (and beyond) coming down with a case of Addison Agen fever.

But it isn’t just her stage presence captivating a crowd of followers. It’s her highly relatable, humble disposition as well. It’s a collection of characteristics Addison comes by honestly. Her mother, Kristine Agen, has been a healing artist for Parkview Health and the Fort Wayne Dance Collective since 2014, using her gifts to bring joy and peace to those in need of it most.

We jumped on the phone with Addison and Kristine to talk about the power of music, how the family is staying healthy and handling their sudden celebrity and, of course, what Adam Levine is really like behind the scenes.

Dashboard: Kristine, where did your love of music come from?
Kristine:
My parents. I always recall my mom singing for church, and sometimes we would do some harmony. My father has always been drawn to guitar. He plays the same three chords beautifully over and over. I played the clarinet, and I remember telling my band leader I wanted to be a music major, which … I mean, keep it mind, I never saw a woman play guitar until I was 21 years old. And it changed my life! I went to Wisconsin-Eau Claire and got a degree in music therapy.

I grew up in a small village called Gilman, Wisconsin, with less than 200 people. My parents are there in an assisted living facility. When The Voice is over, we’re going to visit them so Addison can sing for the residents. Not for the public in the village, but for my parents and the patients, because people in hospitals and institutions love music, too. I’ve seen them, in their final moments, have the conviction to sing the words to a song. You know, hearing is the last sense to leave the body. We can give them quality of life right up to the end of life.

Dashboard: Addison, what has it been like seeing your mom do such inspiring work through music?
Kristine: Addison started going with me to hospice and hospitals around age 2 in an umbrella stroller. I remember one hospice visit, I was with a woman when I was called into another room. The woman’s family was taking a break, so if I left, she would be alone. Addison, who was 6 or 7, was quite comfortable in that situation and said she wouldn’t mind staying. She sang “Jesus Loves Me” to her, which is just mind-blowing at that age. But it makes sense if you knew how often she went with me.

Addison: I remember going there a lot, because I would do group activities and schoolwork with residents and patients. It showed me that music is such a healing, touching thing, and that’s why I want to create the type of music that helps. I write about real situations and stories that people need to hear, and stories that bring emotion, because that’s what’s really needed in this world.

Kristine: I loved bringing my children into the nursing home because it added a multigenerational element. It was such a blessing for Addison to see that connection between people and music. 

(Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC) 

Dashboard: And surely that’s contributed to Addison’s maturity. Addison, you’re always so composed.
Kristine: She’s one of the youngest singers, but Addison appeals to all ages, and I would say that’s from her time in the hospital setting. She’s always been around all ages, and she’s very emotionally intelligent when it comes to what people are going through. She’s seen a lot of things. And also, we just don’t let drama into our lives.

Addison: Being homeschooled, I think, was a huge part of me getting to know who I am. And then, once I knew who I was, then I went to high school, where most people were trying to find themselves. We can still learn from each other. I just always thought everyone knew who they were and what they wanted to do. I didn’t know that was rare. Being at hospitals and nursing homes, I knew how to take things seriously, but also how to have fun along the way.

Kristine: Being around life and death situations at such a young age, I think really matured Addison. We are a fun family, but also very well grounded. We don’t go in the dark valleys. Not everyone at her age has had that much experience with life and death. I mean, she’s been at three births, her first when she was 8. She sees the full scale of what life is, and doesn’t get caught up on daily ups and downs.

Addison: This is such a small portion. People care so much about these little things, they don’t have the energy to focus on what really matters. People get bored because they don’t see the big picture of how meaningful it really is. I am hugely aware.

Dashboard: Addison, you’re a songwriter as well. What was your first song about?
Addison: We have a video of it somewhere! We were at my grandparents’ house in Wisconsin. They have a big piano and I would go back and mess around. I think it was about a star in the sky. I was four. We recorded it and I wrote the lyrics down. My brother was on the drums.

Dashboard: OK, Addison … What was going through your mind before Adam stole you to keep you on the show?
Addison: Karli Webster was my battle partner, and we just wanted to make the best music we could so we could be sure neither of us would go home. It was the best to sing together; to create this magical moment on stage. The vocal coach working with us behind the scenes was so excited.

Adam and Miley turned around for both of us during our auditions, so we thought, OK, let’s just hope they take both of us. I am super happy I lost, which is weird to say, but I work so well with Adam. And he looks at me like I’m this rare piece of jewelry ... like a unicorn. It’s so crazy to think. Our relationship has built up over the weeks and he truly gets me. He appreciates every genre of music and when it’s done well.

Dashboard: Speaking of Adam, what’s something people would be surprised to know about him?
Kristine:
On TV, he’s so focused listening to the music. But in person, he’s so casual.  

Addison: We were debating this song for four hours this week, and he was just lying on the couch in his sweatpants. He’s so relaxed and calm, but also he has five things on his brain at once.

Kristine: He’s like an older brother for Addison. He gives her notes and he wants to protect her. He reminds her to take a step back and not to listen to the negative. He loves her.

Dashboard: Addison, what’s been your favorite performance so far? Do you go back and watch them?
Addison:
I do sometimes. “A Case of You” was my favorite solo performance, but the most fun was the group number with Adam and Adam Cunningham. We did “Go Your Own Way”, and I’ll never sing a song like that again, on a stage, next to Adam Levine. It was so fun. 

(Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC) 

Dashboard: Do you get nervous?
Addison:
My nerves are under control. I do get adrenaline. I get energy knowing everyone is seeing it live, but that almost makes me more calm. Nothing is touched up, other than how I look. I’m doing what I love on that stage. And there are so many people supporting me and sending love.

Kristine: My friends get more nervous than I do. I’ve been seeing her do this for so long. Addison isn’t the type to have a spaz out moment. She doesn’t worry about lines or melodies. I get more emotional when we part ways. I always tear up because I’m thinking of her as this 8-year-old girl, so when I see her on that stage, I get emotional. And I get nervous about what the world will do with my beautiful daughter. But I’m never worried about her. I’m proud of her character. I’ve always known she can sing, and it’s an honor to share that with the world.

Dashboard: So, of course we have to ask, how are you taking care of your health? Mental and physical.
Addison: Well if you could see our room right now … We have two humidifiers going, and we’re diffusing essential oils. At night, we diffuse some lavender and immunity, and right now, we’ve got some lemon going just for a pick-me-up. The whole counter is vitamins and everything I would ever need. I practice a lot, so I drink a gallon of water a day, gargle salt at night, have a cough drop every hour.

Kristine: There are a lot of germs in a hotel! Also, we’re getting plenty of sleep. We usually go to bed around 7 p.m., especially since she’s getting up at 5:30 in the morning and working for 12-14 hours every day. We don’t waste an opportunity to sleep.

Addison: The latest I go to bed is 10:30 p.m., and that’s on show days.

Kristine: We pray every day to help keep focus because this isn’t it. It’s a beautiful, amazing thing, but we aren’t going to get caught up in it.

Addison: That’s what keeps my mental state right. This isn’t the end of the world. There’s so much more.

Dashboard: You have more than 33,000 followers on Instagram alone. How are you finding balance with that?
Addison:
I like to post pictures with other contestants and I typically post the pictures the team from The Voice provides us. But Instagram stories, that’s 100 percent me. I’m lying in bed and sneezing and, I mean, it’s real life. It’s funny because I never get recognized. I was at the grocery store with Shi’Ann and someone handed me the phone so I could take a picture of the two of them! I look different with hair and makeup. In person, I’m just plain and simple.

Dashboard: How does it feel to have such an outpouring of support from back home?
Kristine: Since we aren’t there, I don’t think we get the extent of it. It’s interesting, out here no one knows who she is and as soon as she gets off the stage, we start planning for the next one. I love it when people tell me about the signs and the different viewing parties and support from local businesses. Sometimes we see videos of it. It’s neat, and we can’t wait to come home and see it.

Addison: The iTunes votes are huge and I heard that if you buy my song on iTunes you can get 50 percent off that Tuesday at Bravas. That’s so awesome! We love Bravas!

Dashboard: Any final thoughts you want to share with your Fort Wayne or Parkview supporters?
Kristine:
We’re so grateful for all of you. We covet any prayers for our health and family members. We’re so grateful that a whole team, like Parkview, could be watching. I know people are watching or streaming her performances on Tuesday mornings. It means a lot. Keep voting!

Addison: You guys are super awesome and so sweet. I get a bunch of comments on my Instagram feed from Fort Wayne people. It makes them proud to have a local person on the show, and it’s an honor to be that person. I’m so thankful for each and every one of you.

Kristine: We love Parkview!

 

Watch The Voice Monday and Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. (ET) on Fort Wayne’s NBC, or on nbc.com/the-voice. You can vote for Addison online, by downloading her song on iTunes or by downloading the official Voice app.

 

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