While NBC's "The Voice" has more than its fair share of performers who have released major label records, made popular videos and toured extensively, Cherie Oakley was the lone contestant with a No. 1 under her belt.
Oakley's song "Turn on the Radio," recorded by Reba McEntire, topped Billboard's Country Songs chart at the beginning of this year, but the now-eliminated songwriter is not sure whether it helped or hindered her chances at making it into coach Christina Aguilera's final four.
"You hope that it's all about the performance," Oakley said during a conference call Wednesday (June 1), the day after viewers of "The Voice" learned her journey had ended. "You never know… but the brain wonders 'did it hurt me?' From a certain perspective, I felt like an underdog. I felt like I stood out as the only person with a country background [on Aguilera's team] and that was drastically different from everyone else. Christina was very vocal about the fact that country was out of her comfort zone."
Oakley's competition was the soulful pop singer Lily Elise "and at the end of the day that's what [Aguilera] gravitated toward," Oakley said.
Although she is not continuing with the competition, Oakley was highly complementary about the guidance Aguilera provided and the opportunity to meet McEntire, with whom she had only spoken on the phone previously.
Oakley wrote "Turn on the Radio" shortly after rains flooded Nashville last year with the intention of recording the song for her debut album. Before she could get into the studio, her deal fell through, but the song wound up in McEntire's hands.
Oakley, who has sang backup for Carrie Underwood and Gretchen Wilson, gave McEntire permission to be the first to record the song provided it would be released as a single.
"She called to celebrate it being No. 1," Oakley said, who at the time was deciding to take a chance with "The Voice."
The shocker, from Oakley's perspective, came when McEntire entered "The Voice" as an adviser to coach Blake Shelton. Their meeting in Los Angeles, however, was shorter than their phone calls. When Oakley returned to Nashville, that all changed when she was invited to McEntire's office for a celebration of the single's success.
"One of the coolest experiences of my life" -- having McEntire thank Oakley for the song on national television -- "I got to share with the world," Oakley said. "She's been an idol of mine my whole life. I'm 10 times the fan now that I've gotten to know her."