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Cheesa: From 'Voice' to finding her voice

Angie Johnson and Cheesa compete in the first

Angie Johnson and Cheesa compete in the first week of "battle rounds" airing on March 5, 2012, on the second season of "The Voice." Credit: NBC

The knock on "The Voice" (and "The X Factor," for that matter) has been that it has yet to produce a breakout star as big as Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood.

Could Cheesa be the one to change that?

The 22-year-old Honolulu native -- a quarterfinalist on Team Cee Lo in the second season -- has launched her debut single before any of last year's finalists, and it has a shot at finding an audience. (Let's not count Jermaine Paul's terrible cover of "Butterfly Kisses," rushed out for Father's Day, as a single, for everyone's sake.)

"I'm Not Perfect" is a powerful ballad about self-esteem that shows off Cheesa's voice, as well as her duet partner, Charice.

"I wanted to send the message that self-acceptance is important, not only for teenage girls, but for everybody out there who was told they couldn't do something with their lives," she says. "When I was younger, I was told that music wasn't the right path for me. But music is what I love and what I love to do and I'm doing it, so hopefully that says something."

Though Cheesa has been singing since she was 4, she says she could have used the song's message when she was growing up.

"I've always struggled with my weight and with my self-image," she says. "I was always told that I needed to lose more weight, and that I was not cut out for the business. But for me, it's not always about that, about the business. It's also about what you can bring to people and how you can impact their lives."

And that's what Cheesa is looking to do with her new single, as well as the other songs she is working on for her debut, currently scheduled for an early 2013 release. "It will be a little darker, a little more raw," she says about the new music, which she says will also reflect her Filipino heritage and her feelings as an underdog. "There will always be a lot of people trying to bring you down. There will always be people saying negative things. You just have to be sure you love what you do."

Cheesa says she's proud to have come from "The Voice" and feels the show is only getting better. "They're giving all the other shows a run for their money," she says. "The time and effort that goes into the live shows, the production of everything is to make the show be current and feel more contemporary. It really is the show for the younger generation."

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