When Whitney Dahlstrom began singing at 9 years of age, she had no clue how bright her singing career would be.
Dahlstrom, a senior public health sciences major at the University of Missouri, hails from the small town of Monett, Mo. Dahlstrom took voice lessons from the ages of 8 to 18. Those voice lessons paid off when Dahlstrom realized she had something special after singing to a crowd in the eighth grade.
“I won’t ever forget the first time ever when people were like, wow she actually kind of has a voice,” Dahlstrom said. “From that point on, it just kind of took off.”
After that moment, Dahlstrom started singing at local events and church, and she sang the national anthem at high school ball games.
“Singing is something she truly loves,” said Carol Dahlstrom, Whitney Dahlstrom’s mother. “It’s so ingrained in her. She sings from the moment she wakes up until she goes to bed.”
“I have a 90s country female voice,” Dahlstrom said. “So I sing a lot of country music but I’ve been mixing it up a bit so that those who can’t stand country music, can stand it. I just like mixing it up.”
Since coming to the University of Missouri, Dahlstrom has taken her singing career to another level. She auditioned for “The Voice,” a reality singing competition, in Chicago, Ill., in 2012.
Dahlstrom made it through open calls, audition dates and an interview, but then was presented with a disappointing result.
“I got cut right before the semifinals,” Dahlstrom said. “It was really a bummer but they gave me good reasons and I cannot talk highly enough about the producers throughout the program. They’re incredible and very helpful.”
Dahlstrom says she’s thought about going back to “The Voice” but is unsure about it.
“I’m kind of wishy-washy about it. Like should I go again or should I wait a little while and go back,” Dahlstrom said. “It was fun and it’d definitely be worth it.”
After graduating in May 2014, Dahlstrom isn’t taking the typical path that many graduates take. In June or July, she will be moving to Nashville, Tenn., with her best friend to pursue her singing career instead of seeking a more traditional job or internship.
“I need to devote more time to music if I want to really do this,” Dahlstrom said.
Devotion to her dream is exactly what Dahlstrom has shown over the past few years. Along with writing her own music, Dahlstrom can be seen performing the national anthem at Mizzou basketball, baseball, track, swimming and diving competitions. She also performs every other Wednesday from 8 to 10 p.m. at Nash Vegas on East Broadway in Columbia, Mo.
“Ever since I’ve met her, I’ve always thought she was really good,” said Lexi Neisen, a close friend of Whitney. “She’s beautiful and she has a good twang and distinct voice to make her a great country singer.”
As Dahlstrom reflects back on her years, she is surprised at how far she’s come and how her singing career continues to grow. In six months, she hopes to be in Nashville booking shows and recording.
“If she puts her heart and soul into it, she can pursue her dream,” Neisen said. “The thing that distinguishes her from others are the songs that she writes.”
More than anything Dahlstrom hopes to be in Nashville co-writing, writing and getting her music out there.
“I keep hitting little hurdles and little bumps,” Dahlstrom said. “But hopefully it’s going to start taking off.”
Knowing that this can be a tough career path to follow, has prepared a safety net just in case singing doesn’t work out.
“Everybody should be able to follow their dreams,” Carol Dahlstrom said. “If she can financially support herself in Nashville, I’m all in it for her.”
Dahlstrom said her parents have agreed to give her a certain amount of time to do something with her singing career and if it doesn’t work out, she will go back to school.
“I completely understand that my parents are kind of watching out for me as far as having a good future and I respect that,” Dahlstrom said. “I have to be realistic about this.”
Being realistic is her top advice for others in her position. She says even though she thinks about music 90 percent of her time, she needs to be realistic and finish her degree.
“The best way to look at it is, do what you want to do, but do it the smart way.”