Vocalist and musician Paige “Payge Turner” Roopchan was a revelation to many in TT when she appeared on US network NBC’s talent show, The Voice, last Monday.
The 27-year-old singer, who will be mentored by pop singer Gwen Stefani on the show, proudly announced that she’s from TT.
The Trinidad-born and raised singer auditioned with The Weeknd’s Call Out My Name, hitting a stunning low note which drew astonished reactions from the judges and the viewing audience.
In the blind audition format used on The Voice, judges listen to the performer with their backs to the stage and if they like what they hear, they turn their chair around. If more than one judge turns around, the singer can then choose whose team they want to be on.
Country music star Blake Shelton was the first judge to turn his chair around, followed by Stefani. Turner was praised by all the judges, including singer-songwriters John Legend and Kelly Clarkson and drew rave reactions from the audience, viewing virtually, and the judges for her range and performance.
Shelton said he was awe-struck by not only her voice but her moves on stage.
“She was high-stepping, her knees were up above her head and she was stomping, it was awesome. She’s not just an incredible vocalist, she’s a performer. If you do not pick me for your coach, at least give me a year free in your fan club because I am a huge fan.”
Stefani said she was impressed with Turner’s voice.
“Your voice is just so beautiful and everybody was dying when you hit that low note, and I just love how much control you have and how sexy your voice sounded and I would love to work with you.”
Turner chose to be on Team Gwen. She, along with other singers chosen during the audition, will be mentored by Stefani and face off against other judges’ singers during the competition. The winner will receive US$100,000 and a record deal with Universal Music Group.
Stefani celebrated after the audition, saying, “I’m always looking for the personality, the message – I feel like I got that with Payge. Blake won last season, but I’m back this season and I’m gonna get a win.”
Turner proved outgoing from the start, telling the judges. “I was ready to go. They had me back there, and I was like ‘I’m a bull in the pen. Let’s go! Let’s go!” Following the audition, Turner posted on social media, “Privileged to be on this woman’s teammm! It’s so wild to be on the show. What is life?!?? How about last night’s premiere? Tell me all your thoughts!!! I wanna hear from y’all!! I’m over the moon and so grateful to @nbcthevoice for this opportunity especially when the world needs music most! Shout out to my countryyyyyyyyy lehhh weeee goooooo!!”
Turner was surrounded by music growing up as her mother is contralto soloist Jacqueline Johnson, who sings with the Marionettes Chorales. Johnson said Turner showed an interest in music from the age of five.
“She would sometimes accompany me to Marionettes rehearsals and expressed a keen interest in the songs and music. She would also listen intently when I practised for upcoming solo performances and often sing along with her twin sisters. It was around that same time she started ‘tinkling’ the ivories as she would sit with her granny and pick out notes on the piano.”
Turner moved to Kansas City at the age of 13 with her father, Peter Roopchan. According to The Voice website, “Payge’s parents separated and thought it best for her to move to the US with her father for a better education. Arriving in Kansas in the middle of winter was a major culture shock for Payge, but she joined the choir and theatre and focused on music.”
Johnson said she began studying piano while still in Trinidad. Turner attended the Colby High School in Kansas where she played on the women’s varsity basketball team. She then attended Colby Community College between 2012 and 2014. While there, she took part in track-and-field in the triple-jump, javelin and the women’s indoor pentathlon. In 2014, she won first place in the Colby Community College talent show. She won songwriting awards at the 2013 and 2014 National Fine Arts Festivals in Orlando, Florida, representing the College Drive Assembly of God.
Turner went on to get her degree in music theory and vocal performance, and later moved to Seattle in 2018 to pursue a music career. In an interview with Dan’s Tunes, an online magazine covering the Seattle music scene, (https://danstunesseattle.com/), she describes her music as soul/alt/progressive vibes. She said she made the decision to move to Seattle from Kansas City after doing a backpacking trip to the area.
Turner’s influences include soul music legend Sade, progressive jazz band Hiatus Kaiyote, neo-soul singer Lianne La Havas, and Australian singer-songwriter RY X. Her first single, Beautifully Flawed, was released in 2016. Since then she’s released the singles Wyld, But For Now, Only One, Matter, and Aftermath. Her EP, Sleepwalker, was released in May and features the songs But For Now, Surrender (ft Trevor Turla), Gave My Love (ft Trevor Turla and Riley Kennedy – Keys), and Matter.
Turner is passionate about various causes, having performed for concerts in support of domestic violence survivors and the Black Lives Matter movement. She participated in the Capitol Hill Occupied/Organized Protest in Seattle in June and was filmed talking about how she experienced racism as an immigrant to the US.
“I’m a DACA recipient, I’m an immigrant. I’m coming from a country where I’ve never seen it like this before. This country handles racism in the nastiest way I’ve ever seen it. I come from an oppressed country and it’s never been like this. I never even understood racism until the moment I moved to the US, the moment I was the top athlete, I was 13 when I moved here, I’m 28 now, I didn’t grasp it, it wasn’t ingrained in my head, because I grew up in a country where this wasn’t like this and I remember being an athlete and being told I belonged on the JV squad even though I was out-jumping the varsity squad, to have white people standing in front of my space.”
In the Dan’s Tunes interview, Turner expanded on her plans for her music.
“My goal as a singer-songwriter is to make sure my voice is heard clearly, and also to inspire people who have been in similar situations as I have: coming from broken homes, immigrants, and people that come from a Christian realm. I still claim God; I just don’t claim Christianity. People that are struggling with that in-between of, “Okay, is it acceptable to be queer and love God at the same time?” That’s a huge struggle for me, as well. So just to be a voice of reason, because musicians have a job, and our job is not self-gain — it’s self-emptying. You’re putting yourself in a vulnerable position, and your job is to educate a population. That’s what I want to do. I want to be an educational outlet for people, as well as someone that’s a role model. I really don’t want anything huge, but enough that I can make money off of it.”
Turner currently teaches voice and keyboard classes at the School of Rock and plays with her band The Authors. Johnson said when Turner told her she was auditioning for The Voice, they were excited and hopeful she would qualify. Johnson and older sister Rianna were backstage during the audition and Johnson described how they felt during that process.
“The emotions came in stages, anxiety watching her enter to start her song, relief and excitement when the first chair turned, bewilderment thereafter.”
While Turner has been silent on social media since the audition, viewers can look out for further appearances on The Voice on NBC. More about her and her music can be found at www.paygeturnermusic.com.