When you're competing on a show called "The Voice," the last thing you expect is to be sent home for having too good of one.
But that's what happened to 36-year-old Miami singer Karina Iglesias, who got the boot from NBC's national singing competition last week after celebrity coach Shakira saved contestant Garrett Gardner—whom she believed needed more coaching than Iglesias—to advance to the show's top 12 round, after results revealed that neither contestant had received the public votes necessary to advance.
"Karina, you have such a monster voice," Shakira told Iglesias. "You really have an amazing voice and you're so good already. But Garrett, I think I can make improve a lot more, so I’m going to save him."
And just like that, Iglesias had her shot at a recording contract and her taste of stardom cut short. She returned home to South Florida on Wednesday.
"It was one of those moments where so many things go through your mind," said Iglesias Thursday night at her Miramar home. "I hugged [Shakira] really hard, she hugged me hard and told me she was sorry. I just remember her walking up to me and me being completely heartbroken."
Iglesias's family was shocked.
"We didn’t speak a word,” said Adelina Iglesias, who is married to Karina's father Jose. "Nobody called each other—nothing. Except for a co-worker who texted me: 'Sin palabras [no words].' I sent back: 'Muda [speechless].'"
The singer's partner Jacquie stayed up consoling her on the phone until 7 a.m. the next morning. The two have been together for four years and married ceremonially in 2011 in Florida, where same-sex marriage is not legal.
"We're all very proud," Jacquie said. "This is just the beginning."
Iglesias's father is also optimistic about his daughter’s future.
"She has the talent," said the elder Iglesias, who owns a convenience store named Tiny's Food Store in Hialeah. "I hope she makes it higher and starts making a lot of money, so I can quit making colados."
Check out our Q&A with the singer, who dishes about life behind the cameras, coming out to her family and maybe a duet with Pitbull.
Was this your first time auditioning for a national singing competition?
Oh, no. I had auditioned for American Idol and X Factor, and this was my third time auditioning for The Voice. It was interesting how it happened. I emailed them my links and, within a week, I was in Los Angeles. I didn’t have to attend the auditions they have in cities. They automatically flew me over based on my YouTube videos and [in L.A.] I executive auditioned for the producers.
What went through your head when you knew you were being sent home?
I was sad because I felt I did more than enough to stay and be top 12. And I felt that I really deserved for her to save me. But I was blessed in the experience because I’ve been watched by 15 million people every Monday and got to experience what the television show was like.
Who knows what was going through [Shakira's] mind? I'm pretty sure that it was a tough decision to make because I know that Garrett was her little baby the whole time. I thought maybe she’d want to save the person who’s worked their butt off their entire career to get there, but maybe she perceived it differently. And I respect that. People have to go home on the show. That’s the reality of it. I left a little too early but I’m still blessed to have made it that far.
What did Shakira say to you that night after elimination?
It was a big blur. It was one of those moments where so many things go through your mind. I hugged her really hard, she hugged me hard and told me she was sorry. I just remember her walking up to me and me being completely heartbroken. And then they had that moment where they say 'We're saying goodbye to Karina' and they walk me off. I thought, 'Wow, I’m leaving this stage for good.' It was a very bitter pill to swallow. But I'm happy that I did it and would do it again if I had the chance.
Well, Jennifer Hudson was also kicked off shockingly early from her season of 'American Idol' and now she has an Oscar and a Grammy.