Cole Vosbury and his grandmother, Nita Lynn-Zahn, backstage.
A former Louisiana Hayride vocalist and performer in her own right, Nita Lynn-Zahn was referred to as “America’s Grandma” during her grandson Cole Vosbury’s exciting and sometimes stressful journey on NBC’s “The Voice.”
It is no wonder that the camera often panned to her during Cole’s performances or critiques by the judges. She didn’t hide her emotional responses to the phenomenal career opportunity that the popular television show was for Cole, and the show’s producers seemed to love her reactions.
“This has been the most exciting time of my life, following my grandson Cole's awesome journey on the TV show ‘The Voice,’" she said. “From the very beginning I felt that Cole would go far on the show. But I think that none of us were prepared for the extent reached – all the way to the top five! It has been so totally fantastic, but exhausting.”
Nita lost her husband just months ago (September 4), and the shock of widowhood had not had time to wear off before she began making frequent trips to Los Angeles with various members of the family. (“The Voice” pays for two contestant’s family members to come to the show.)
“I left from Shreveport on Sunday morning and arrived in Los Angeles late in the day. I got to visit with Cole for a while on Sunday night, then got ready for a 6 a.m. call to go to Universal Studios for the day, where we went through security and interviews. They are very strict, allowing only two family members in the ‘hot seat’ section,” she said. “After several hours of ‘hurry up and wait,’ we were seated in the family section to watch the live performance of the contestants. That started at 5 p.m. Los Angeles time. We watched the taping of the guest stars first before they went live. Then my nerves would start acting up while we were waiting for Cole to perform. The crowd went wild when his picture and an interview came up on a big screen. Then he came on live to perform his best to garner America's votes to keep him on the show, and I prayed, ‘Please, God, let him do well.’ And, all of his performances were impeccably great.”
“All four judges, Adam Levine, CeeLo Green, Cristina Aguilera, and Blake Shelton, whose team Cole was on, had only praise for Cole's performance,” said the proud grandma. “Cole never got a negative word from any of them. I am filled with pride at his perfect performances, even shed tears of joy.”
Immediately following Cole’s performance, she and Lauri Vosbury, Cole’s mom, or Robin, Nita’s son and Cole’s dad, were moved to another room for a live interview with Cole. Nita said they asked her questions like, "Grandma, how do you think Cole did tonight?" and "How proud are you of Cole?" Nita described her answers to these questions as being “over the top”.
Then, she says it was “back in the van to go back to the hotel to wait for the contestants to arrive, sometimes a 2-hour wait. We got to have dinner with Cole and listen to all the amazing things he and the other contestants did that day before it was time to get a little sleep before another day of the same ‘hurry up and wait’. The second night is when we learned if Cole had advanced to the next week. Robin said it is brutal sitting, waiting for them to say, ‘America has voted, to advance to the next week----COLE VOSBURY!’”
This grandma loved to hear the crowd going wild. It is her personal, if not necessarily unbiased, opinion that Cole was a crowd favorite. After each win, it meant another week with The Voice so she could finally relax – for a few days. Following the Tuesday show, it was back to the van, trip to the hotel and dinner with Cole again. Wednesday mornings started at 6 a.m. when family members were taken to the airport for the flight home.
“I got to stay home three days to rest, do laundry, pack and catch up with things, and then Sunday it starts all over again. I had to have somebody take care of my dogs while I was gone,” she shared. “Cole has had so much love shown him from his hometown. There are several casinos, bars and restaurants that had viewing parties every time he was on. He was all over the news and newspapers nearly every day covering his journey, even the stations that are in competition with NBC. It was awesome!
“As I said, it was pretty exhausting for me, but I know those kids were exhausted also. There are so many things they did besides just practicing their songs. Behind the scenes they made a lot of videos every day to promote the show, practiced their group songs, wardrobe, makeup, choreography, etc.
”I am afraid I am not as young as I used to be, seeing as how I am almost 77 years old. All of the contestants, the parents and staff called me Grandma. I am very humbled and honored that I was tagged America's Grandma. How cool is that? Cole didn’t win the final, but he has made important contacts in the music industry.”
“I want to sincerely thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for the support and votes they gave to Cole. He is also humbled, and gives God the glory for the response he received from all over the world and other countries, especially Canada, citizens who could not even vote. Look for him to sing The National Anthem at The (AdvoCare V100) Bowl football game. What an honor!”
-- By Elaine Marze