With the three SF State Voice competitors linked hand-to-hand, accompanied by a crowd produced drum roll, Nicole Gabel was announced the winner, gaining the title of SF State Voice 2013, a plaque commemorating the event and the production of her own music video by SLAB.
“I was nervous beyond belief, and I was sweating,” said Gabel, whose huge smile and giddy mannerisms showed that the singer was still reeling from the announcement. “When [the host] called my name I was really surprised actually, because there’s amazing people in this group. I was just really surprised.”
Gabel’s interest in singing began early at the age of four. In sixth grade, she joined the local church choir and made the leap to performing on stage at 13.
“The first time I stepped foot on stage by myself, I was like ‘Oh my gosh this feels amazing,” said Gabel.
Gabel continued to ascend as a singer, performing for bigger audiences. She finished as a runner-up at an iPOP! event, an international show for performers, held in Los Angeles. She also previously tried out for both “The X-Factor” and NBC’s “The Voice.”
Her experiences trying out for the reality shows helped her in the blind auditions round of SF State’s Voice.
“I went with “Love You I Do,” by Jennifer Hudson, because it was the audition song that I sang when I auditioned for “X-Factor “and I wanted to give it another shot,” said Gabel.
The move paid off as Gabel’s deeply soulful and powerful vocals overwhelmed all four judges during her performance, she created a competition among the judges who tried to enlist her for their team. Ultimately, it was judge Christa Laosantos who emerged victorious.
“When I was turned around initially, and I just heard her voice, it was like super raw, and she really didn’t have to try hard,” said Laosantos. “Everything just came natural to her.”
From that moment on it was smooth sailing for Gabel. She cruised through the battle round and solidified a victory during the final singing competition round. Her performance of Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing,” demonstrated her ability to match Houston’s pitch range and booming vocals.
The win may have shocked Gabel but the victory did not surprise Laosantos.
“I think it was her genuine talent, and because of that she just exuberated confidence throughout the whole competition,” said Laosantos. “I knew she was nervous, but she didn’t show it at all and that’s very professional. And I think that’s what brought her to win this competition.”
Gabel’s talent and drive also impressed SLAB’s Special Events Chair, Tawnee Vallar.
“She’s so sweet and very humble, and she’s not afraid to perform that’s for sure,” said Vallar. “(She’s) not afraid to try bigger things and she definitely conquers and achieves them.”
Although Gabel, a sophomore at SF State, is currently majoring in family and consumer sciences, she plans to continue to work toward her true passion — a career as a singer.
“I definitely wanna be in the music industry and get up there,” said Gabel. “But I know that there are a couple steps I need to take before doing that, and other things I need to do.”
Before she starts making her own music, Gabel states that she is currently learning how to focus her thoughts on paper. But as a member of the A Capella Group at SF State and Gospel Gators, Gabel will have plenty of opportunities to captivate students on campus.
“I just love to sing for people and make people happy, so that’s what I like to do.”