Marybeth Byrd is one of the youngest contestants on The Voice this season, but that hasn’t stopped her from quietly turning in some of the most soulful performances. This 18-year-old earned four chair turns with her blind audition, “Angel from Montgomery” by John Prine — though Blake Shelton was blocked by Kelly Clarkson, and Marybeth chose John Legend as her coach.
In the Battle Rounds, she defeated country duo Dane & Stephanie on Cam’s “Burning House,” then in the Knockout Round, her rendition of Adele’s “All I Ask” took out Preston C. Howell.
On the live shows, Marybeth has performed Ellie Goulding’s “Love Me Like You Do,” Vince Gill’s “Go Rest High On That Mountain,” Grace Potter and the Nocturnals’ “Stars,” and Selena Gomez’s “Lose You to Love Me,” only landing in the bottom three on that last song, where she received the public’s instant save after performing “You Are the Reason” by Calum Scott.
She may have what it takes to go all the way this season, so here’s what you need to know about Marybeth Byrd.
1. Marybeth Grew Up in Arkansas
Marybeth grew up in Armorel, Ark., which is a town of only a few hundred people located in the far northeast corner of the state, right near the Missouri boot heel. But Marybeth says she feels like the entire state is supporting her run on The Voice.
“Overall, I just feel so blessed and thankful for the amazing support system that I have. I feel like Arkansas is backing me up 100 percent, which is a really, really great feeling,” Marybeth tells local station KARK in a recent interview. “When I sing, I really want to touch people and that’s my main goal with all of this. It’s been an awesome, awesome experience.”
In a separate KARK interview, Marybeth is shown footage of one of her watch parties in Mayflower, Ark., where they had signs and a balloon drop and dozens of people in attendance. She says it’s just incredible to see that kind of support.
“It means the absolute world to me because without all of my fans, without all of my Byrd Watchers, I wouldn’t be here,” says Byrd. “A big thank you to God as well for giving me this opportunity. Seeing watch parties just proves how many people love and support me.”
Her biggest supporter might just be her boyfriend, Christian Gunnels, whom Marybeth has been with for over three years. He posted to Instagram this past summer that their friends and family should “expect a wedding in about 2-3 years.”
2. Singing Helped Her Overcome Her Stutter
When she was young, Marybeth suffered from a terrible stutter that kids teased her mercilessly about, but it was through singing that she found a way to overcome it. Her parents heard her singing and realized she wasn’t stuttering, so they encouraged her to pursue it.
She quickly started taking part in local talent shows like the Mid-South Fair Talent Show and the local St. Jude’s Hospital telethon. Then at the age of only 11, Marybeth recorded a country song called “Don’t Look the Other Way.”
3. Marybeth Is a Beauty Queen
The Voice isn’t Marybeth’s first time on a big stage. In 2016, she was named Miss Lights of the Delta Outstanding Teen and in 2017, she was named Miss Greater Jonesboro Outstanding Teen, which led to her competing in the Miss Arkansas Outstanding Teen pageant both years.
Local news anchor Diana Davis recently posted a pageant video of Marybeth to Facebook, and she reminds her followers to vote for Marybeth every week, saying there were “screams in the Region 8 newsroom” when Marybeth made the Top 13 a few weeks ago.
And a friend from home named Kasey Eakins tells local station KAIT, “What you see is what you get [with Marybeth]. She is down to earth, she is a small-town girl. But you know, Northeast Arkansas is like that. We are all small-town people and we have each other’s back.”
4. She Helps Her Dad With His Food Truck
Marybeth’s dad runs a food truck in the Jonesboro area called Big Byrd’d BBQ that is apparently quite popular — and growing more so because of Marybeth’s time on The Voice. She tells KAIT that the other day he joked to her, “Well, I feel like I’m more famous now than you. I’m enjoying this!”
She also put college at Arkansas State University on hold to take part in The Voice, telling KAIT that she is currently “taking online classes” so that she can continue her college education while also competing on the show. But her boyfriend will be waiting for her when she’s done competing if she decides to continue her college education — he is currently a student at Arkansas State as well.
5. Marybeth Originally Wanted Blake Shelton
It turns out Kelly had good reason to block Blake from getting Marybeth during the blind auditions. Marybeth confesses to local station KARK that he was absolutely her first choice as a coach.
“Going into the blind auditions, of course, I wanted Blake or Kelly, but especially Blake because where I’m from, as you well know, Blake Shelton down here in the South, he’s just a staple … he hit home to me, so I wanted him,” says Byrd, but she adds that she wouldn’t change a thing now because John Legend has been so wonderful.
“John has been the best coach ever. I have had so much fun working with him and it’s been a pleasure. He’s awesome,” says Byrd, adding that she thinks her teammate Katie Kadan might be the one to beat in the competition.
“Everyone here is so talented, everyone has beautiful personalities. I’ve made lifelong friendships, but man, Katie Kadan, she is wow. SHe’s out of this world, she’s such a superstar. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t turn into a competition because at the end of the day you’re with all your friends. It’s really really amazing.”