CORii’s Comeback
“The Voice” reignites a dream
By Jayne Jacova Feld

When the pulse of the Los Angeles music scene was halted by the pandemic, Courtney Halpin MacBride – or CORii, as the music world knows her – saw her climbing career take a detour. This pandemic pause was a period of grounding in her South Jersey origins, a time to expand her family in Haddon Twp. and establish herself as a vocal coach to nurture future talent. 

It was a stark contrast to the world of showbiz but a good option when the world was in turmoil, she says.

But as a recent contestant on NBC’s “The Voice,” CORii’s pause officially ended. For MacBride, this wasn’t merely a return but a reawakening of CORii, the alter ego she donned in 2017 at the cusp of her initial breakout.

“I love my life here, I love my students and there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for them,” she says. “But I felt a pull back to something I knew was still part of me.” 

Back in the public eye, CORii was vying for a $100,000 prize and a recording contract with Universal Music Group under the guidance of music luminaries like Reba McEntire and Gwen Stefani. And while she was eliminated during the Knockout Rounds, it was a harmonious comeback for MacBride, who has rediscovered her voice with renewed swagger.

“My goal is to reignite,” she says. “This has been a reminder of what I was meant to do. It’s helping me rebuild my fan base and is a spark to release new music again. It’s my rebirth.”

MacBride’s Moorestown High School years were split between athletics and the arts, but her passion for the latter – singing, songwriting and performing – ultimately took center stage. After graduating from the Berklee College of Music in Boston, she initially returned to South Jersey, amassing funds for a move to LA by performing at weddings and Howl at the Moon piano bar in Philadelphia.

With dreams packed tight, in 2016 MacBride took the leap to LA. “I was out there constantly, performing and writing,” she says, “trying to create a name for myself.”

The hustle paid off. She and her writing partner earned recognition, with their songs gracing the soundtracks of popular shows like “Good Trouble” and “Love Island.” As 2019 came to a close, MacBride was on the cusp of a breakthrough. She appeared on “Songland,” a reality show giving undiscovered songwriters the chance to present original music to industry veterans. MacBride performed her own “What If” before Latin pop icon Luis Fonsi.

Due to the show’s confidentiality rules, details of her experience remained undisclosed until the episode aired on April 20, 2020. By then, MacBride was back in South Jersey, readjusting to life with her husband, Delran native Andy MacBride, DO, who had taken a position at Jefferson Hospital. However, the epic watch party for family and friends they planned got derailed when Andy caught Covid, turning the celebration into a Zoom virtual gathering. 

While MacBride didn’t advance on “Songland,” the judges were impressed. “What if you just keep singing ‘What If’’?” Fonsi suggested to MacBride after her performance. Fonsi’s words, along with over half a million streams of “What If” on Spotify, were encouraging, but “Songland” was her last LA stage appearance until “The Voice,” which filmed earlier this year.

“I had been working so hard and for so long, and then the whole world was in lockdown,” says MacBride.

Her blind audition on The Voice with Dua Lipa’s “Scared to be Lonely” reintroduced the world to the South Jersey resident in October.

Despite a strong performance that landed her a spot on Team Reba, the absence of the other 3 celebrity coaches – John Legend, Niall Horan and Stefani – from vying gave her mixed feelings.

“I had not performed in front of a crowd since 2019 and then I had to do it in front of the biggest celebrities – no pressure, right,” she says. 

Despite positive rehearsals that had her hopes up for a 4-chair turn, the actual performance was a reality check. “It’s like I can teach my students so much but so many other things might happen that can affect your voice, from the room feeling like they had just pumped in 300 gallons of Antarctica air to your nerves. So things didn’t go very well,” she says.  

The pressure intensified in the next stage of competition when she was set to face teammate Ms. Monét, a seasoned backup singer. The 2 were paired to duet Patti LaBelle’s “New Attitude” in the round which would require coach Reba to eliminate one of her singers.

“I was like ok, they clearly want Ms. Monét to win this,” she says. “I felt like the underdog, so I locked myself in my hotel room all day learning and memorizing the song. I knew I needed to be over prepared.”

And even though McEntire chose her rival, CORii’s performance sparked a buzz – so much so that Horan and Stefani both jumped at the chance to snag her for their teams, setting off a double-steal moment.

Entering the competition, CORii had eyed Horan’s team, but it was Stefani’s pointed feedback that resonated with her and ultimately prompted her to choose Team Gwen. 

“It was very lovely to hear Niall compliment me – especially since my goal going into the battle was to make him regret that I wasn’t his first choice. But there was something about Gwen’s constructive criticism that stuck with me. I’m 33 years old, and I’m just trying to really grow and do everything I can to better myself.”

And although she was eventually knocked out of the competition, MacBride says with confidence that it will not be the last you’ll hear of CORii. With the connections she made on the show, not only LA but Nashville is calling.

“I don’t set too-high expectations just so I don’t get disappointed,” she says. “As long as I’m earning my keep doing what I love, that’s the dream.”  

December 2023
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