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October 20, 2014

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‘The Voice’ champion Danielle Bradbery preps for Homecoming by headlining in Las Vegas

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Danielle Bradbery.

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Danielle Bradbery with Blake Shelton on NBC's "The Voice."

Danielle Bradbery is 17 years old. She should be prepping for Prom rather than singing duets with Blake Shelton.

Or not.

“Right now I’m in Nashville recording for my album,” Bradbery says during a phone conversation last week. “It’s coming along really well. It’s a good time.”

The first single on that album is “Heart of Dixie,” and Bradbery is going to break from recording to appear Saturday night at the Rio during Nevada Wild Fest, the annual fundraiser for the Lili Claire Foundation. Her appearance at 8 p.m. at the event’s Festival Stage is included in the festival’s $10 general-admission ticket price.

Also onstage Friday through Sunday are tireless juggling artist Jeff Civillico of Quad Showroom, the bands Sin City Sinners and Blues Storm and one of our favorites, former “Fantasy” singer Stephanie Sanchez. It’s a fine lineup and a great value, and Bradbery is using the event to sample from this new album, including a performance of “Heart of Dixie.”

I ask for the new album’s name.

“We are gonna figure that out,” she says.

“That would be a good name,” I say.

“If we can’t think of a name, we’ll name it that,” she says, laughing.

Bradbery famously had not appeared in front of an audience when she auditioned for “The Voice,” but her natural singing aptitude drew the attention of all the judges/coaches, and she teamed with Shelton as she won the championship with scant public-singing experience.

How was it that she decided to try out for “The Voice”?

“Well, my mom thought I had a chance to do well, and I’d always watched it, and ‘America’s Got Talent’ and ‘American Idol,’ all the contest shows. There was something about ‘The Voice’ that seemed really cool,” she says. “They are not just judges. They can help you develop as an artist, and that’s what Blake has done for me.”

Between her original taped audition — in which Shelton and fellow judge Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine both swung their chairs to face her with approval — and her live appearance on the show, Bradbery did appear live at a small music festival in her hometown of Cypress, Texas.

That appearance was booked by her stepfather, Danny, and she performed a three-song set before returning to the show. She sang a duet with Shelton on Patty Loveless’s “Timber (I’m Falling in Love)” and was declared the youngest winner in the show’s history after her rendition of Sara Evans’ “Born to Fly.”

“It was stunning,” Bradbery says. “Just unbelievably.”

Shelton has continued to coach Bradbery, in a sense, bringing her onstage to get a true feel for what it’s like to be in front of a big crowd.

“Blake has been a real help,” she says. “He brought me out for two of his shows in Tampa, and we sang ‘Heart of Dixie.’ ”

Bradbery has obviously achieved great fame at an early age. She would be a junior at Cy-Ranch High School in her hometown if she were still an on-campus student.

But she isn’t.

“Where I live is just a little town, and I have to be away for my career,” she says. “I am not going to my high school anymore, but I’m doing online schooling.”

“How does the Prom work for online high school?” I ask. “What about Homecoming?”

“I am not going to Prom, no!” she says, laughing. “I’m going to do my best to make it to Homecoming, though. That’s (Sept.) 27th and 28th. The football game is the 27th, and the dance is the 28th.”

“Did anyone ask you to the dance?” I ask.

“My best friend asked me,” she says. “She said, ‘Come with me!’ I said, ‘OK. Well, that’s nice (laughs).’ ”

“Could you win homecoming queen if you’re from online high school?” I ask.

“Oh! Maybe!” she says. “That would be cool! But I seriously doubt I could do that.”

But seriously, if young Danielle Bradbery entered that competition, she would be tough to bet against. The kid’s a winner.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at Twitter.com/KatsWiththeDish.

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