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LI's Bella DeNapoli talks competing on 'The Voice'

West Islip's Bella DeNapoli, left, recently competed in

West Islip's Bella DeNapoli, left, recently competed in a Knockout Round with Memphis, Tenn., singer Katherine Ann Mohler. DeNapoli advanced to the live finals, beginning Monday, Nov. 8, 2021. Credit: NBC / Michael Becker

West Islip's Bella DeNapoli says her Knockout Round victory on "The Voice" last week, sending her into the live finals starting Monday, was bittersweet.

"There was a roller coaster of emotions," the 22-year-old contestant tells Newsday by phone from Los Angeles, where the NBC signing competition is produced. "I actually became very, very good friends with Katherine [Ann Mohler]," whom DeNapoli defeated in the one-on-one round. "The whole time when we went through the process together, she was my go-to best friend. You know, we laughed and cried together. She felt like home. So when we got paired, we were so upset. But we also flipped our minds around and said, 'Let's look at this in a positive light. We get to share that stage.' So we went out on that stage, gave it our all and supported each other the entire way."

When DeNapoli won with her performance of Sia's soulful "Chandelier," "Part of me was jumping for joy," she said. "But another part of me was sad because my friend's journey was coming to an end."

Mohler had done a downtempo rendition of Bell Biv DeVoe's originally upbeat "Poison" — a choice the Memphis, Tennessee, 22-year-old singer suggested in an Instagram post that she had disagreed with, writing that she felt "wounded, having been unable to control many decisions that were made and song choices that were selected."

But her friendship with DeNapoli was genuine, Mohler wrote in the same post: "@belladenapoli, how have I gone my whole life without you?! My heart is so full having been able to perform along side [sic] you and it's even fuller watching you continue on in this competition. While our hearts shattered being paired against each other, you'll never be my competitor but only my best friend who is going to the live playoffs on season21 of the voice! big watch party for you, sis."

Mohler, DeNapoli says, "made such a good impression on America and she's so talented and this is just the start for her."

The West Islip High School graduate's parents, local cover-band singer Nanci-jean DeNapoli and guitarist Tom DeNapoli, who comprise the duo Fine Wine and front the six-piece Beernutz, and who own and run the Deer Park electrical contracting firm KND, are predictably proud, Bella DeNapoli says. As singer-musicians themselves, they have offered advice.

"The biggest piece of advice that my parents have given me," DeNapoli says, "is just to be myself and trust in my creative aspect and artistry and to be honest. It's, like, tell the story. It's all about believing in what you're saying" and, she adds, "being relatable."

While it's unclear which of the 21 finalists — including one wild-card finalist among the knocked-out Samara Brown, Hailey Green, Aaron Hines and Vaughn Mugol — will perform Monday and who will be crowned season 21 champion in mid-December, DeNapoli envisions a possible home in music-hub Los Angeles. "California is really awesome," she says. "I think I'm building this relationship with it, that it's a home away from home. I think that luckily 'The Voice' family has been able to create that space for me."

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