The Voice

‘You Got This': Howard University Student Competing on ‘The Voice'

Ainae Nielsen, a Washington, D.C., native and Silver Spring, Maryland, resident, made it onto Team Kelly in the final blind audition last week

Ainae Nielsen as seen on season 20 of The Voice.
Tyler Golden/NBC

A 21-year-old Howard University student is competing on "The Voice" and may advance Monday night.

Ainae Nielsen, a Washington, D.C., native and Silver Spring, Maryland, resident, sang her own arrangement of “Best Part” by H.E.R. and Daniel Caesar and made it onto judge Kelly Clarkson's team last week in the final blind audition.

Nielsen told News4 she could hardly believe her eyes as she saw Clarkson's chair begin to turn to see her.

“The whole time, I was saying to myself, 'You got this, you got this,'" she said. “I was nervous, but I was confident that all that practice that I did would come through in that moment.”

Nielsen majors in business marketing at Howard and is set to graduate this spring. She grew up in an Ethiopian American family that loves music. She said she's always known she wanted to be a singer. It wasn’t until the pandemic hit that she began to make her dream a reality. 

Nielsen said a casting director from “The Voice” asked her to audition. She took it as a “sign,” as she had been dreaming of moving to California to pursue a music career.

"Now that I’m here, I know this is the road I’m supposed to be going on," she said.

After the blind audition, Clarkson said Nielsen is “a competitor” and “different from anyone else in the show." Clarkson said she believes Nielsen is ready to take on the challenge. 

Nielsen said she has had a great experience on the show so far.

“The amount of growth that I’ve had within a week is insane," she said.

Nielsen’s advice to others who may want to audition for a singing competition was to “know yourself” and “be confident."

Photos: Famous Howard University Alumni and Former Students

Now, Nielsen joins nine other singers on Team Kelly as they prepare to go head-to-head in the show's "battle rounds." She wasn't able to say how far she's advanced in the competition, but as of Thursday she was home in D.C. watching the show with friends and family.

Each singer is competing for the chance to win $100,000 and a record deal with Universal Music Group. "The Voice" airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET.

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