Cami Clune sure can keep a secret.
The Western New York native knew weeks ago that she qualified for the live shows of NBC’s “The Voice” but she had to stay quiet about it until advancing Tuesday night.
She survived despite losing her knockout round competition to John Holiday, a voice coach from Texas who was declared the winner by John Legend.
As Cami was preparing to thank Legend, Kelly Clarkson saved her via a steal that made Clune a member of Team Kelly.
“It was pretty hard (to keep a secret) because I’ve known I am on Team Kelly for two months,” Clune said in a telephone interview from Los Angeles, where she has been for a few weeks preparing for Monday’s live show.
She had to pretend on social media as if the recorded shows were happening now rather than weeks ago.
“It is really cool now that everybody knows,” said Clune.
Clune's success is reminiscent of the ascent of another Western New York singer on a national singing competition show: John Stevens of Williamsville on "American Idol." In the early 2000s, when that show was a ratings juggernaut and a cultural phenomenon, Stevens advanced through several rounds and made it to the final six contestants before he was voted off.
Clune and her supporters here hope she makes it farther than that, but for a while this week, it was looking like her run might come to an end.
Clune said she knew she was “definitely” in trouble when she saw Holiday was her knockout competition when their singing duel was recorded in September. She sang “I Put a Spell on You,” he sang “All By Myself.”
“He is so amazing,” said Clune. “I think he was the one I was afraid to go against the most because he is a guy who sings in a girl’s range. He is just incredible. I don’t know how you could go against someone that unique. It was very intimidating.”
She said she was “very, very nervous” during the knockout performance.
“I think I am very good at hiding nerves, since I’ve gotten so used to having to do that,” said Clune. “Usually when I go on stage, I feel the nerves calm down. I think because there is no live audience and it is pretty silent and it is just these four celebrities watching me, the nerves stay up.”
The time between Legend selecting Holiday as the knockout winner and Clarkson making her steal was "definitely" the longest second of Cami's life.
“It was the feeling that this might be the end of my journey on the show,” said Clune. “I have to think of saying something to John, how to thank him and Kelly immediately hit her button (to steal her). I was overwhelmingly grateful.”
She could tell that Legend was going to pick Holiday even before he vocalized it.
“I knew from the moment that I was paired with him that” Holiday was going to be picked, said Clune. “Oh, yeah. I was banking on the steal for sure.”
Clune said Clarkson gave hints that she wanted to steal her that weren’t aired.
“So, I definitely wasn’t completely like, ‘this is over,’ ” said Clune. “Part of me was, 'I might not make it through,' and Kelly used her steal. It was a moment of sadness, then immediate excitement.”
She said she is “super excited” to work with Clarkson after working with Legend.
“The chance to work with not just one but two incredible musicians and celebrities is just awesome,” said Clune. “I am such a huge fan of both. I’m so happy to be on Kelly’s team.”
In retrospect, the support that Clune’s mother Patricia was orchestrating in Western New York for several weeks also appeared to be a hint that her daughter might make it to the live shows.
All her mother’s marketing of Clune to get the word out at area restaurants, fire halls, schools and theaters should pay off now that viewers’ votes decide who stays in the competition that is down to 17 competitors with three live shows remaining.
“I felt so supported by everyone in Buffalo, especially by my mom, who basically made a whole campaign to get votes for me,” said Clune. “There are signs everywhere. It is so incredible. The support from my family and friends and from Buffalo in general has just been amazing.”
There will be three platforms to vote on the live shows – on “The Voice” app, on NBC.com and on Google assistant app.
This is one “election” where people can vote more than once.
“If you do it on all three – each of them counts,” Clune explained. “If you give me 10 points (votes) on each, then I get 30 points (votes).”
She plans to post on her social media how people can vote.
“That’s going to be the key as we go forward,” said Clune.
Even if Clune doesn’t become "The Voice" winner, all the national attention she has received has been beneficial to her career.
“I feel like I’ve gotten so much exposure and so much opportunity that even getting this far is winning for me,” she said.