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Supporters cheering for local contestants on "The Voice"

4:40 PM, Nov 7, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Two artists with local ties are hoping to sing their way to victory on NBC's "The Voice."

Greylyn Paluszynski, or 'Grey' as she prefers, was born and raised in Jacksonville.

Paluszynski graduated from Douglas Anderson School of the Arts and LaVilla School of the Arts before heading up to Boston to go to Berkley College of Music.

For those who don't know her, she has such a powerful voice it is hard to believe she's just in her 20's.

But longtime family friend Ray Coleman told First Coast News there has never been a doubt that music would be Paluszynski's life.

"My first memory was being at the baseball park and throwing batting practice to her brother, and hearing this beautiful little voice singing Michael Bolton," he said.

Coleman, a Jacksonville attorney, also shared memories of what would happen if Paluszynski didn't hear the song she wanted on the car radio.

He said, "She would always get mad if the radio wouldn't play the song she wanted next because she was music."

Coleman said her love of music comes from her family. He said her parents and brother all have different talents.

For Paluszynski, her vocal abilities only grew stronger as a part of a praise choir at Beach United Methodist Church in Jacksonville Beach.

"Greylyn is a fun-loving, highly energetic girl. She has always been that way ever since I've known her," said church member Courtney Stahlman.

Stahlman used to sing in the choir with Paluszynski and is elated to see her friend skyrocket to stardom.

"It's just really cool to see someone we grew up with achieving their dreams. It's incredible because we always wondered, 'Will she do it? Will she do it? Will she do it?' Well, now she is," Stahlman told First Coast News.

Pictures that Stahlman enjoys looking at depict Paluszynski as exactly the way she appears on television, Stahlman said.

"She is very much herself when you are around her. She does funny voices. She's always singing," she said.

But it's Paluszynski's singing voice that Stahlman believes helps her connect with anyone who hears it.

"Greylyn's voice always carried just into the hearts of people. People were changed by her voice," she said.

Now, that same voice is competing for $100,000 and a recording contract on NBC's hit singing reality competition "The Voice."

Paluszynski is one of 20 finalists who are hoping to make it to the top 12 on Thursday night's episode.

She joins another contestant on the show that also has ties to the First Coast.

Both are on "Team Adam Levine," who is the front man for Maroon 5 and a celebrity coach.

At age 17, Preston Pohl dropped out of high school near Dallas, Texas and moved to St. Augustine to join a band called Storyside B.

That band was started by longtime musician and producer Lu Rubino, who runs a studio in St. Augustine called The Fish Tank Recordings.

Around 2003, one of Rubino's band members suggested a then-unknown artist to join the group.

"He (Pohl) used to have this big awesome fro at the time. He was this young, skinny looking GQ kid with this awesome fro. It was like straight out of Urban Outfitters catalog," Rubino said.

Pohl risked everything and moved across the country to pursue a dream.

"He sold his guitar and he sold his amplifier to buy a ticket to come to St. Augustine," Rubino said.

Pohl, who also comes from a musical background, toured with Storyside B for six years before starting his own band.

Out on the road, Rubino and Pohl created a lifetime of memories together and won some awards that now hang in Rubino's home.

"We were always kind of challenging him because he'd do anything for $10. So we got him to do so many crazy things on the road," Rubino said.

But behind the fun loving side of the raspy singer is a side that Rubino remembers as sensitive and beyond his years.

"Sometimes I would be a little upset if somebody didn't respond to me the way that I had hoped they would respond to me. And I remember him saying 'People hang out in different ways.' I took that as a pretty wise thing," Rubino said.

Rubino believes it's that part of Pohl's personality that will make him successful on the show.

"He's really easy to love immediately. People just gravitate towards him," Rubino said.

But no matter what happens to him or Paluszynski on the show, their supporters think they're already winners.

"I think that's why people are starting to fall in love with her and see her voice for what it is and that it's phenomenal, and that she has a gift," said Stahlman.

Coleman said, "She's honestly scratched the surface of where she can go."

"This is what he's meant to do," Rubino said.

You can watch "The Voice" at 8 p.m. Thursday on WTLV NBC 12, a First Coast News station.


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