STANWOOD — Working 9 to 5 was not her way to make a living.
Savanna Woods sang for tips and it led to the spotlight on “The Voice” twice, so far.
What’s up with that?
Woods, 26, was back on the NBC show Monday for the second round in a head-to-head battle, this time pitted in a duet of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams.”
Her contender won the battle, but a last minute “save” kept Woods in the running. Next is the knockout round in the episodes pre-recorded at Universal Studios in California.
After that, the competition goes live, so anything can happen. The winner gets $100,000 and a recording contract.
The Stanwood singer’s largest audience prior to “The Voice” was about 15,000 livestream viewers. The TV show gets millions of viewers.
“It was exhilarating for me on a stage of that size, with all the production, with the Hollywood twist on it, with the hair, makeup and glam,” Woods said in a recent phone interview from her Stanwood home. “I had to put makeup on, which I haven’t done in six years.”
The TV stardom gets her recognized around Puget Sound. “It’s kind of like I have friends everywhere I go now,” she said.
Woods has pursued singing since graduating from Stanwood High School in 2013.
“I had tried out for ‘The Voice’ eight years ago and I didn’t make it,” she said.
Last year, she decided to give it another shot and this time was selected for the show. Coaches this season are Kelly Clarkson, John Legend, Nick Jonas and Blake Shelton.
On her audition March 15 she sang “Zombie” by The Cranberries. Clarkson and Jonas both tried to recruit her to their team.
“I think you’re cool as hell,” Clarkson told her on the March show. “For me, what just happened is that Patty Griffin and Nirvana had a baby, and I really liked it in my head.”
She chose Team Kelly.
On Monday’s show, country pop singer Kelsea Ballerini sat in for Clarkson. She picked the other contestant as the battle winner in the elimination round. But as Woods graciously walked off the stage, Ballerini hit the big red “Save” button.
“I ‘saved’ Savanna because she’s so calm and so confident. I was just intrigued by that,” Ballerini said.
Woods grew up singing with her sisters and her dad, Stewart. Her mom, Lacey, played piano, despite chronic muscular dystrophy.
She has five siblings, two of whom are adopted foster children. Her parents have fostered over 20 children. “My mom has a power chair but she can still take care of all these kids,” Woods said.
She said her dad listened to “old standards, blues, and people like Harry Nilsson.” Her mom: “Norah Jones, Melissa Etheridge, that type of stuff.”
“We didn’t have music blasting. We sang together a lot,” she said.
She still keeps the volume down. “My mind is very busy. My mind is blasting so I can’t have all that noise,” she said.
When driving, she listens to podcasts and audiobooks. “Spirituality podcasts, change your mind, change your life. How my personal universe works and how I can work through it better. I live in a thought-based universe and what I think about comes about, so I work a lot on where I focus those thoughts.”
Woods never had voice lessons. She gives credit to Stanwood High choir teacher Erik Ronning.
“He helped me develop my head voice, that high voice up there, and it was just a whisper when I was young. I could not sing up there at all,” she said. “He would make me sing in front of the class an entire song in that voice and he said, ‘You hate me now, but you are going to thank me later.’ And I thank him every freakin’ day.”
After high school, Woods worked in a coffee stand.
“It started killing me working a 9 to 5. Personally, I can’t spend my time working for other people’s dreams when I’m not serving mine,” she said. “It’s not easy to make money as a full-time musician. It takes constant work, every single day. It’s taken me steps to get here.”
Her focus now is marketing herself as a solo artist.
“People ask me my genre and until recently I hadn’t really known,” Woods said. “I kind of go with American grunge now. I like to have the grungier side and I like to have that softer folkier singer-songwriter side. And I like to mix them all together.”
She does a “Wondering Wednesday” livestream series.
“Every Wednesday, no matter where I am in the world or at my house I have to sing and perform. I’ll have impromptu shows at hostels or bars,” she said. “When the gigs stopped (due to COVID-19), people really came through with tipping.”
Before the pandemic, she took three big trips a year. She has been to 25 countries.
“My repeat offenders are Iceland, Italy, I love the U.K. as a whole, and France. I love Eastern Europe, too,” she said.
She travels solo.
“I love to travel alone, so I go to these foreign countries by myself, with me versus the world and I write my music in that time. I bring my guitar and walk around these cities,” she said.
“I don’t do it to be comfortable, I do it to grow. When you have nothing in your comfort zone around you and no one to help you, you have no choice but to grow and figure it out yourself. I love pushing myself off the edge, figuratively, so I don’t have a choice but to expand and grow into the moment. That’s why stepping onto a big stage I am calm, so I can be there in the moment and adapt. I was not the happiest of children so traveling opened me up and helped me deal with my sensitive nature.”
How can she travel on a starving artist income?
“It comes down to taking away things that are unnecessary, reducing your bills and traveling for cheap,” she said.
Home is a tiny house on her parents’ Stanwood property that her dad built.
“It’s a woodshed size. It’s 20 feet by 10 feet,” she said.
“The first couple of years I didn’t have power or water. It would be like water jugs and running 300 feet of extension cords. So it was really like camping. Last year he ran power and water down here, so I learned how to plumb a bathroom and build my own shower. So now it’s luxury camping.”