CLINTON, Iowa -- You may not recognize Lydia Parker's name now, but give it a few months, and that may change.
The 25-year-old Clinton resident may become more well known as she gets ready to appear on one of the hottest reality television programs in the country.
Parker will compete later this year on season 17 of "The Voice" on NBC. The singing competition, which is hosted by Carson Daly, features four coaches who get to hear competitors' voices but not see them until they show interest in mentoring them.
"The community is a big reason why I am going to where I am at," Parker said.
A friend who wants to remain anonymous said she helped Parker by sending a video of her singing a cappella to the screening staff at "The Voice." The friend said this is Parker's journey, not hers.
"I had friends go the extra mile for me because I was too chicken to do it," Parker said.
The folks at NBC called a few days later. She has been given a chance to perform in front of a live panel of judges.
A Facebook group called Lydia's Journey to the VOICE! has more than 1,300 members and is still growing. Several fundraisers will be held prior to her first audition to help pay for her expenses, and they're detailed on the Facebook page.
"The following and the support I have received already from people who don't know me, it's truly a blessing, and it's amazing," Parker said.
Over the past few weeks, she has been receiving phone calls, asking for her to sing the national anthem at baseball games, she said. People she has never met have approached her, saying "Oh, you're her," and "We love you."
"Ok, this is weird but this is cool," Parker said with a smile.
In June, Parker will travel to Chicago for auditions. Taping will start at the end of July, and she will spend four days in Atlanta, Ga., to tell her story. Live performances will take place in September in California.
Parker said her daughter, Alaina, 6, is "very excited" to see her mom go on live television.
"I don't think she quite understands," Parker said. "She knows she's going on TV; she keeps telling her teachers and classmates 'how awesome my mom is going to be on TV and we get to go out on stage with her.' "
Parker also has a 1-year-old son, Caleb Floyd.
She said she has never had any vocal training lessons.
"I'm just excited to learn," she said.
The "Broken Road" journey
One of Parker's favorite songs to sing is "Broken Road" by Rascal Flatts.
"I can relate to that story, big time, with my husband and with my past," she said.
Parker said she believes she was born in Clinton. When she was 5 years old, she was pulled from school and taken to Hudsonville, Mich., to live with the Vugteveen family.
Parker was in Michigan for 12 years, and returned to Clinton when was 17. She said it was "not a wise decision at that time."
Before moving to Clinton, she had aspirations of playing in the WNBA. She said she had basketball scholarships, and her birth family promised to pay for her to continue to go to school.
"It turned out to be a bunch of bull----," Parker said. "They pretty much threw me to the streets, and I grew up in a complete different environment. So I was 17, not knowing anything about this town, not knowing anybody."
At the age of 18, she was homeless. It wasn't too long after that she met Timothy, who is now her husband.
"He kind of saved me from a lot of bad things; he's my rock," Parker said. "He is the reason I am where I am at today. If it wasn't for him, I don't know where I would be today."
Throughout her life, music has always been a healing force for Parker.
"I have always loved music. It has always been my escape route from painful memories," she said.
At the age of 4, she sang karaoke at a place called Moe's Pizza. She also sang sometimes at church and in choir for a couple of years.
When she was growing up, her foster parents were very strict and religious. Music from Disney movies was about the only music allowed in the house, Parker said.
"Like, I wouldn't be able to shop at Hollister because there's a guy with a shirt off on the bag," Parker said. "I couldn't read 'Goosebumps' or dress up as anything evil for Halloween."
Her musical idol when she was young was Hillary Duff. Parker said Duff was the first performer she saw in concert, and she still has a poster autographed by the singer.
"It's in my closet," she said. "I was a little obsessed."
When Parker moved back to Clinton, she broadened her musical tastes. She said she enjoyed listening to bands like Five Finger Death Punch.
"Stuff I wasn't allowed to listen to," Parker said. "I liked it because I wasn't allowed to listen to it. This is awesome!"
Taking music on the road
After Parker posted an online ad featuring videos of herself singing, someone approached her to try out for a cover band. She performed at a gig in Galena, and halfway through the show, she was accepted into the band called the 38's.
Two years after she joined the 38's, the drummer who had invited her into the band left. The band added a new drummer and changed its name to Lydia and the Dirty Apes.
In addition to singing with her band, she also has done some original music with her husband.
"I really want to do music with him," Parker said. "We have done some originals; we try not to because a lot of places kind of put their nose up to songs they don't recognize."
Parker described her duets with her husband as being similar to an Eminem and Dido performance. She said she will play the keyboard and sing the chorus, while Timothy does the versus in a rap chord.
"A lot of people really like when we do that," Parker said.
The song "Stan" by Eminem and Dido was released in 2000 and made it to the Top 100 on the Billboard charts.
Parker said her favorite types of music are country-rock and country-soul.
What would happen if all four "Voice" judges turned their chairs for her, the signal judges use to show they want to mentor a competitior?
"I would start bawling on stage," Parker said. "I will have a meltdown. Even if one turns, its a very good feeling."