It’s not every day that you get a compliment from Emmy, Tony, Oscar and Grammy-winning singer John Legend.
But that’s exactly what happened to Northeastern fourth-year student Eva Ullmann in an unaired moment during her time as a contestant on NBC’s “The Voice.”
Ullmann, a music industry major, participated in the singing competition show—now in its 22nd season—performing Ariana Grande’s “Dangerous Woman.” In an off-camera moment behind the scenes, she heard something from Legend that she’ll never forget.
“John Legend told me that I gave a ‘star-quality performance,'” she says. “And that’s maybe the coolest thing ever.”
Though she was eliminated from the competition in the third round, Ullmann, who has released two EPs under her name, was grateful for the opportunity to sing in front of millions of viewers as a member of country singer Blake Shelton’s team. Plus, she says, it was a valuable experience that she hopes will propel her music career forward.
“It’s given me a lot of exposure,” she says. “In a way, people take you a little more seriously when you’ve been on a show like this.”
Ullmann first appeared in the fourth episode of The Voice on Sept. 27, when she sang “Light On” by Maggie Rogers for her blind audition and joined Shelton’s team. From there, she advanced to the Battles round on Oct. 18, when she sang “Wildest Dreams” by Taylor Swift.
In her final appearance, she competed against two of her teammates and was eliminated when Shelton chose Brayden Lape as the winner of the season’s final knockout round.
Still, Ullman’s performances turned heads thanks to a strong voice honed by over a decade of practice.
Originally from Florida, Ullmann began singing as a young child—her parents say she would sing in the car while listening to music on a hand-me-down walkman.
“I was convinced that if they couldn’t hear the CD because I had headphones in, then they couldn’t hear me scream-singing to the CD,” she laughs, “which is just not how sound works.”
In fifth grade, Ullmann started a girl band with her friends, and took vocal lessons and guitar lessons. Then, she began writing her own songs.
“I just fell in love with it,” she says.
She’s since made a career out of her passion, releasing two EPs: “Youth,” which was released in 2019, and “Renaissance,” which dropped in June 2022. She also has a TikTok account in which some of her videos covering pop songs have gone viral.
But it hadn’t occurred to Ullmann to try singing on a competition show until one day in October 2021, she says. As she puts it, she was “pretty bored,” and, inspired by Ariana Grande, who was then a judge on the show, decided to apply to be on “The Voice.”
Ullmann’s application led to a virtual open call, where she sang a verse and a chorus from Beyonce’s Halo in her living room over Zoom. “Then it automatically shuts off. You can’t redo it,” she says.
“Two hours later, I got an email,” she says.
Ullmann had gotten a callback, in what was the beginning of a series of video submissions and interviews. Finally, while she was on a global co-op in Dublin, she received an email informing her that she had been selected to go to Los Angeles to participate in the show.
Before she knew it, she found herself singing on stage, in a performance that would be viewed by millions of people around the world. “It was wild. I was very nervous” during the blind audition, she says. “You only get one shot.”
Still, “my nerves instantly faded the minute I started singing,” she says. “This is exactly what I’m meant to be doing.”
Her Northeastern education will certainly help. Ullmann will graduate in May, and while she wants to be a musician, she is also specializing in marketing and hopes to work in the music industry in some capacity.
The relationships she’s built here will benefit her as well.
“I’ve met the most amazing people here. I’ve really developed the confidence to go for these things with music like ‘The Voice,'” she says, noting that she met the producer and the audio engineer of her second EP at Northeastern. “It’s been the best decision I’ve made.”
Her experience on “The Voice,” meanwhile, was its own kind of education.
“I was in Los Angeles for three months doing nothing but singing,” she says. While there, she benefited from vocal training, working with bands, getting advice from professionals like Shelton and working with sound technicians. She learned to handle the nerves that come with being onstage, and gained confidence in her singing.
Her time on the show may be over, but whatever is in store for the soon-to-be graduate, music will always take center stage.
“I plan on doing music for the rest of my life,” she says.