Alumna Finds Her Voice at UNH
Alumna Finds Her Voice at UNH

by Dave Cranshaw
UNH Today Editor

About 10 years ago, Kristen Merlin ’07 enrolled in UNH’s music and sound recording program expecting to focus on the production side of the industry. But before long, she “found herself on the other side of the glass, pouring her heart and soul out through the microphone,” according to the bio on her official website.

Performances at monthly Beanhouse events, open mic nights sponsored by UNH’s Student Committee of Programing Events (SCOPE), provided a springboard for her blossoming music career.

Kristen Merlin ’07

According to her bio, “It was there that Kristen let loose and performed her original music. Each time she took the stage, she captivated her audience. It was then that she realized how badly she wanted to make this her career.”

She stepped onto the national stage earlier this week when she appeared on the sixth season of The Voice, singing “Something More” by country music artist Sugarland. “I had a blast up on that stage!” she wrote on her Facebook page shortly after her breakout performance.

The reviews have been off the charts. “Kristen was amazing,” wrote one commenter on Facebook. “I'm not a country music fan, but I was definitely dancing in my seat! AWESOME!”

After a “bidding war” between The Voice coaches Adam Levine and Shakira, Merlin chose to work with Shakira to prepare for the second round of the four-round competition. The winner will receive $100,000 and a record deal with the Universal Music Group.

“This is just the beginning of my journey of making my dream come true,” wrote Merlin on her Facebook page.

Merlin was first discovered at an open mic night shortly after graduating from UNH. By 2009, Boston Nightlife Awards named her the South Shore’s “Best Acoustic Solo Act.”

In 2010, Merlin was among the top 100 out of 7,000 auditioning to be on American Idol. In 2011, she sang the national anthem at Fenway Park, and in 2012, for the second year in a row, she was in the top 150 out of 8,000 competing for a spot on The Voice. In 2012, she won a competition to sing with multi-platinum recording artists Sugarland in Las Vegas.

A Hanson, Mass., native, she is recording her first album with Barefoot Productions and 37’ Productions.

While it may be hard to believe after watching her perform on national television, Merlin was more reserved as a student at UNH, remembers Michael G. Kaloyanides, chair of the music department. But from the beginning, her talent was clear.

“Kristen was a very serious, dedicated and hard-working student,” he said. “I know all the faculty loved having her as a student in their classes."

Follow Kristen's journey on The Voice every Monday and Tuesday night at 8 p.m. ET on NBC or catch up on past episodes and performances.

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