CHICAGO — It’s been several days since Meagan McNeal went viral and she’s still taking all in.
The native South Sider has been blown away by the response after a video of her performance on a westbound Green Line train hit social media last week.
“It was just a really organic, low pressure experience,” said McNeal, who performed alongside her friend, fellow musician Corey Wilkes. “He started playing Mr. Fingers ‘Can You Feel It’ and I was like, ‘Oooh, I’m gonna freestyle over this.’ It was very in the moment.”
“The Voice” alum, who performed at the Englewood Jazz Festival over the weekend, said she’s been fortunate to pursue her art full time after appearing on the TV show. She now tours with and opens for various acts.
“Every time I think about that, it just blows my mind,” said McNeal, who lives in Washington Park. “I didn’t think that was possible before it happened. Friends and family would tell me ‘Yeah, you could totally do this full time’ and I was like ‘Uh, say that to my bills.’ But it’s been good.”
Born at Cook County Hospital, McNeal said her family moved all over the city before settling on the South Side. She attended Evergreen Park High School — “a good experience,” she recalled — before moving to Kalamazoo, Mich., to attend Western Michigan University, where she graduated with a degree in sales and business marketing.
It was at Western Michigan where she fell into her first paid gig.
“Some friends and I were just sitting around the living room, kind of like in a jam session,” she recalled. “I didn’t know that they played instruments, and they didn’t know that I could sing, and they were like, ‘Oh man, this is dope. We should do something.'”
The group put on a show called “Sentimental Soul Sessions, Volume One,” charging a $5 entrance fee. They made a whopping $75, but McNeal said her $25 cut made her a believer.
She thought: “‘Oh, I can get paid for doing something I would do for free?’ It just changed my concept of how to make money.”
The mother of two hopes that by living her dream she can show her two sons what’s truly possible.
One of her favorite moments from her time on “The Voice” was seeing her eldest son, Maddox, light up upon meeting Maroon 5’s Adam Levine, one of the show’s judges.
“It was when their song ‘Sugar’ was out and he really loved that song. When he saw Adam he was like ‘Moooooom! That’s the guy who sings ‘Sugar!’ And I told him, ‘If you think that’s cool, imagine what you can do.”
To find out where you can catch McNeal performing next, click here.
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