Hollister native showcases talent as a finalist on 'The Voice'

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Brooke Simpson sings on the set of 'The Voice.'

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Staff Writer

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Local residents are voicing support for a Hollister native who might win this year’s ”The Voice” competition.

Brooke Simpson is a finalist in the 13th season of the show that uses audience votes and iTune downloads to determine the winner of a $100,000 cash pot and an one-year recording contract. Simpson, who is being coached by Miley Cyrus as she competes for the grand prize, advanced to the final round Tuesday and will learn her fate next week as the competition winds to a close.

“I think Brooke will be singing an original song and a Christmas song in the performance,” Simpson’s father, Mike Mills, told the Telegram on Tuesday. “However, the songs are usually decided by the coach and the producers of the show, so that may change.  It is really important that every one casts their vote for Brooke next week and that they download her songs on iTunes because that can multiply the votes, if it puts her in the top ten.”

Brooke Simpson’s name may have achieved a certain measure of fame during this competition, but most people in the Twin Counties remember her as Brooke Mills, one of the talented members of the Mills Family singers. Mike Mills is an ordained minister with the Church of God. He and his wife, Jimille, still reside in Hollister, just outside of Nash County. Mills has served as an evangelist for roughly 25 years, carrying his family with him wherever he spoke.

“We used to sing at every church I spoke at, and Brooke traveled with us so much she sometimes forgot she had a home. But she learned to perform before an audience during those services,” Mills said.

According to Mills, show producers said they were particularly drawn to Brooke because she is the daughter of an evangelist, a new feature for the show, and because she is a member of the Haliwa-Saponi tribe.

“Brooke is the only Native American to ever get this far in the competition,” Mills said.

Pat Griffin, owner of Griffins Food Store in Red Oak, changed the sign in front of his store Wednesday morning to reflect Simpson’s new status as a finalist in “The Voice” competition. Griffin has been using his store to support Simpson since the beginning of the competition not only because he feels she has a great talent, but also because he values the Mills family as long-time customers of his store.

“The Mills family has been coming to the store to get gas for their trips for a long time,” Griffin said. “Even though they live a little bit down the road, it feels like they live right around here. They are good Christian folks, the kind whose actions speak louder than their words.”

Griffin said he was especially impressed with the rendition of “Amazing Grace” that Simpson sang in the round that placed her in the semi-finals.

“Brooke does a good job, no matter what she sings, but that song was especially wonderful,” Griffin said. “I think it meant a lot to the Christian community to hear her sing that.”

Apparently, a great many people were impressed with Simpson’s heart-felt rendition of the traditional Christian classic. The song placed in the #2 position on the iTunes download chart that week and placed #1 on the gospel chart. Mills said Simpson had people from other religions, including Jews and Muslims, post comments about how they were moved by Simpsons’ performance.

“Miley said she felt it was a big risk for Brooke to sing that song so near the end of the competition, but she trusted Brooke’s judgment and let her sing it, and it was a big success,” Mills said. “I think it was important for Brooke to sing that because it was a reminder of her heritage.”

Mills told the Telegram that he knew Simpson had a special talent even when she was young.

“We always knew she had a special talent, and she always loved to sing when she was young,” Mills said. “Like any parent, we had high hopes. We never imagined she would one day be a finalist in a show like “The Voice,” but we always knew she had this kind of potential.”