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In a family of dentists, country artist Lauren Duski finds her voice

'The Voice' finalist gets support from dental family, community

June 08, 2017

By Kimber Solana

Gaylord, Mich. — Dr. Edward Duski still remembers about three years ago when his daughter, Lauren, had a choice: follow in her parents' footsteps and start applying for dental school or move to Nashville and pursue a career in music.

Lauren chose music.
    
"Obviously, she found in herself that this was the right choice for her," Dr. Duski said. "We couldn't be more proud. Being proud is an understatement."

After a few years of work, her career appears to be full steam ahead. Lauren Duski, 25, recently finished runner-up in the latest season of the television show, "The Voice." Her debut single "Déjà vu," which she wrote and performed on the show, is already on Billboard's "Hot 100" chart.


Finding her voice: Lauren Duski (left) pose with her parents, Drs. Janis and Edward Duski, in Universal City, Calif. during her audition for the televisions show "The Voice." Ms. Duski finished runner-up in the May 23 finale.
Since the May 23 finale, Ms. Duski is back in Nashville working — and taking advantage of the momentum. Back in her small northern Michigan community, her parents are still trying to get back to some normalcy at home and at their practice.

"The experience was pretty surreal," said Dr. Janis Duski. "We've used that word quite a bit. But we would look at each other and ask, 'Are we really here? Is that our kid? How did we do this?'"

From an early age

Drs. Edward and Janis Duski met as classmates at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry. They married, opened a practice and have been practicing together for 25 years.

Their daughter was a constant presence at their dental office, even doing some administrative work during summer break from school.
    
"There are photos of me with my mom as a kid, pretending and wanting to work on a patient," Lauren Duski said. "Looking back, I was there all the time. That practice always felt like my second home."
    
Lauren started singing as soon as she could talk.
    
"As a mom, I knew from a very young age that [music] was her calling," said Dr. Janis Duski.
    
"My piano teacher came up to my mom and told her, 'You know, Lauren can actually sing on pitch,'" Lauren recalled.
    
When she was 9 years old, they gave Lauren her first guitar.
    
"She would be in her room during the many snowstorms and snow days playing her guitar," Dr. Edward Duski said.
    
It was also around this time that mom and daughter traveled around Michigan as Lauren Duski performed, opening for touring country acts. But as to where Lauren's musical talents came from, both parents have no answer.
    
"We are not musical at all," Dr. Janis Duski said. "It's a family mystery. Ed and I joke that we don't have other talents. We practice dentistry and that's about it."
    
The Duskis' celebrated their practice's 25th anniversary in March.
    
"That celebration got overshadowed a little," Dr. Edward Duski said.
    
Pursuing opportunities

However, by the time Lauren Duski was in college, she lost some of the drive to perform. She was majoring in biopsychology, neuroscience and cognition at the University of Michigan — on the fast track to become a dentist like her parents. Her younger brother is also pursuing dentistry.
    
"Dental school was the plan until my junior year of college," she said.
    
She had an opportunity to open for an artist when she looked out to the audience.
    
"I remember going on stage and I just said, 'This is it,'" Ms. Duski said.
    
Ms. Duski said she wanted to go to dental school because she saw how her parents, over the years, have helped and affected people's lives.
    
"I wanted to help people," she said. "But it hit me that I can also help people outside of dentistry. I've been singing my whole life and I saw how a song can resonate with people."
    
Ms. Duski told her parents of her decision and their response caught her a little by surprise.
    
"My mom said, 'It's about time,'" Ms. Duski said. "She wanted it to come out of my mouth."
    
"We told her, 'We'll support you,'" Dr. Janis Duski said when Lauren made her decision. They wanted their daughter to give music a shot for a few years.
    
After graduating from the University of Michigan, Lauren Duski moved to Chicago where she connected with a couple of people from the music industry.

"They basically convinced me that if I wanted to be a country artist, I had to move to Nashville," she said. "One week later, I was there."

Lauren Duski spent most of her time in Nashville singing, songwriting, networking and performing. To support herself, she worked as a full-time caretaker to a friend who had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

"She was laying the groundwork," Dr. Janis Duski said. "She would play a few songs here and there, hoping someone in the industry was there to hear it."

Last year, Dr. Janis Duski said, her daughter called with some news.

"I was at the office when she called and said 'I got an opportunity to audition for "The Voice"'," Dr. Duski said. "She didn't even know if it was legit."

It was.

On the episode that aired in February, both Drs. Janis and Edward Duski stood backstage watching their daughter perform Jewel's song "You Were Meant For Me" during the blind auditions.

It only took 17 seconds for judge/coach Adam Levine of Maroon 5 to turn his chair around, causing the Duskis to hug and high-five host Carson Daly in excitement. Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani quickly followed. In the end, Lauren Duski chose the country singer, Blake Shelton, to be her coach.

"I thought I had my nerves under control until Adam turned," Lauren Duski said. "That's when it hit me. I'm really doing this."

Community support

Week-after-week, Lauren Duski made it through the next round.
    
"On Mondays, it was tough to practice because we were so nervous," Dr. Janis Duski said, laughing.
    
Except for Lauren's blind audition, and later the finale, the Duskis watched their daughter perform only on television. And they weren't alone. Their staff and patients, many of whom have met Lauren, followed the competition.

"Our staff and patients are our family," said Dr. Edward Duski. "To see their support, and the support at a community level in Gaylord, and then at a national level and in social media — it's amazing."

Lauren Duski is back to work in Nashville.

She's scheduled to play some shows June 10 during the CMA Music Festival — along with country music heavy hitters.

"It's wonderful to be back in Nashville," she said. "With [The Voice], I was in this bubble, so you sometimes forget that there's this other world out there."

Lauren, who signed with talent agency William Morris Agency, is also back to work, recording new music and songs she's written over the years. She plans to hit the road, release some music and work on her first record.

"Whether that's with a label or independently, you only get one first record," she said. "So I want to take my time and make sure it's perfect."

When that record does come, Lauren Duski can rely on the support from her family and community back in Gaylord.

She's taken her small northern Michigan community for a ride, Dr. Edward Duski said.

"And I think this ride is just going to continue," he said. "We're just excited where this is going to go."