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Erin Willett, ‘The Voice’: Contestant Comforted by Blake Shelton After Father’s Death

Jeff Weller / Facebook

Erin Willett is the latest contestant from Blake Shelton‘s team on ‘The Voice‘ to move forward, after successfully beating out her competitor, Gwen Sebastian, in the battle round on Monday night (March 19). But the singer was battling an issue much more personal before she took the stage. Her father, who was fighting cancer, had only moments to live, and Erin had to make the difficult decision to stay on the TV show, or return home to be by her father’s side. Her coach, who lost his own father in January, sat down with Erin to help her sort out her wide range of emotions.

“At first, I’ll honestly say that it was kind of awkward because I didn’t really know what to talk about. I didn’t know if I was being put on the spot to explain my story,” Erin admits to The Boot. “Then [Blake said], ‘I’m here to help you through something and be your guidance and be your friend.’”

The 22-year-old says Blake’s support meant the world to her. “It definitely made me feel a lot closer to him,” she acknowledges. “To feel someone genuinely reach out to you when they didn’t really need to and give their time and their energy and their calming words and to understand that he also kind of has gone through this — a similar situation.”

Tragically, Erin’s father passed away right before she took the stage. “The crazy thing is he was actually supposed to come out. It just happened that fast,” she recalls. “All the decisions I made were not just my decisions, they were my family’s decisions.”

With encouragement from Blake and the support of her family, Erin made the difficult choice to stay and compete, instead of return home to be with her family. “It was an emotional period,” she says. “Having [Blake] be a little bit on my side and step away from being a mentor and step closer into being a friend truly made me feel so loved. I feel like as much as it was an unfortunate situation that I wasn’t with my father, I was in a great place.”

Blake wasn’t the only one who offered support to the young singer. In addition to encouragement from the producers and other coaches, Erin’s fellow competitors also reached out. “As much as Blake was definitely a help, just being able to feel loved by all the other artists genuinely — Pip and Nathan [Parrett] actually sent me flowers. My mom called me crying and it was the sweetest thing.”

While Erin and her family continue to mourn the loss of her father, she says she also feels grateful. “I genuinely am thankful for this experience during a really difficult time because I feel like I have a whole new family that I’m able to lean on. In my after-interview, I kind of touched on that. Gwen was a really big part of it as well. She was there for everything.”

‘The Voice’ airs Monday nights at 8:00 PM ET on NBC.

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