Most BYU students spend their days learning from professors, but one former BYU student is spending her semester learning from award-winning artist Miley Cyrus.
Belle “Jewel” Lyon, an 18-year-old musician from American Fork, recently competed on NBC’s “The Voice.”
The Voice is two competitions in one, according to NBC’s website. The contestants are in a competition against each other to win, but their four judges are also competing against each another to win. A judge ‘wins’ if a member of their team wins “The Voice.” This season’s judges are Miley Cyrus, Alicia Keys, Blake Shelton and Adam Levine.
Contestants audition in blind audition rounds where the judges’ backs are to the performers. The judges are unable to see the performer and can choose if they like the performer based only on what they hear. Each judge then chooses a team of 16 performers to mentor and coach.
Keys chose Belle after her audition song “Don’t You (Forget About Me),” originally performed by Simple Minds. Both Keys and Cyrus mentored Belle on her journey.
Belle advanced through three rounds of the voice — the auditions, the battle round and the knockout round. Belle was one of the top 20 performers but was eliminated from the competition Monday night in the live performance round.
“Every day on The Voice has been a dream come true. The best thing that’s happened to me so far is just how much confidence I’ve gained in myself,” Belle said. “To know that Alicia Keys, Miley Cyrus and the production team believe in me enough to give me this opportunity has meant so much to me. It’s made me so ready to go and take on the music industry.”
Belle said her confidence in pursuing her dreams also comes from the example of her parents, Shari and Howard Lyon. Her dad is an award-winning religious artist, and Belle said she grew up watching her mom succeed at everything she attempted.
“Watching my mom just go for it and always succeed has been so inspiring to me. It’s made me want to try things that are scary and go out of my comfort zone,” Belle said. “Watching my dad be so successful as an artist and being raised around that has made me realize that it’s 100 percent possible to make it as an artist.”
Shari said motivating her kids to set hard goals and achieve them has always been important to her and her husband.
“It’s kind of required in our home to have a dream,” Shari said. “Find something you love and work hard.”
Shari and Howard have exposed their children to a number of hobbies and opportunities throughout their lives. Shari hoped having them try everything would allow them to find something that truly “fed” them.
Belle said she has loved music ever since she was a child, but her passion for it truly developed when she was 14 years old and performing in musical theater. She first picked up a guitar when she was 16 years old and fell in love.
“Music has been important to me in just about every aspect of my life. It has helped me go out of my comfort zone so much by getting in front of audiences, pushing myself to work really hard and being creative,” Belle said. “It’s made me more of an independent and hardworking person.”
Lisa Piorczynski, a graduate from BYU with a double major in French and English, has served as one of Belle’s life mentors.
Piorczynski said she would describe Belle as “enchanting and completely irresistible.” The two have always had a special connection, according to Belle. Piorczynski also said she admires Belle’s dedication to her craft.
“I watched a TED Talk once that said, ‘So much of creativity is just showing up every day and doing it.’ Belle’s been consistent in knowing what she wants and showing up and doing it every day,” Piorczynski said. “So many people think that talent is just being born with it, but it’s really 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration.”
Belle said her dedication to music comes from being a “restless, gypsy soul.”
“I’m not comfortable with staying in one place, and I’m not comfortable with not moving forward,” Belle said. “That, combined with my love of music, has just made me want to always be improving and moving forward, especially in my music.”
Belle was preparing to apply for the commercial music program at BYU before she decided to go on The Voice. The show had reached out to her previously and asked her to audition, but she declined at the time because she was unsure if music was truly her calling. Eventually, she rethought the offer.
“I remembered I had this opportunity with The Voice in my back pocket, so I thought ‘Hey, I’m just going to go for it before I commit to years and years of school,’” Belle said. “So I decided to put college on hold.”
Belle said her two semesters at BYU helped her decide she wanted to pursue music. Belle mentioned plans to eventually return to BYU once she’s comfortable with her music career.
Shari said she admires her daughter’s courage in achieving her dreams because it’s an uncertain route compared to going to school and becoming a teacher or a nurse.
“I’m not saying anything against those careers, but those are just paths that a lot of people take,” Shari said. “For someone who wants to be an artist or a musician, you can’t really just get an education and then get a job. There’s still so much that has to be self-driven.”
Shari said she’s proud of her daughter for always working hard to pursue her dreams. It also inspires Shari to pursue her own dreams.
“Most people wouldn’t be brave enough to do that, let alone have the stamina and the willpower to follow through with it,” Shari said. “I hope that, despite the setbacks and challenges, Belle can still feel very proud of herself.”