Sabrina Dias Represents Newark While Competing on Season 21 of NBC’S “The Voice”
Nov 5, 2021
“One day, I’m going to be on The Voice” stated Sabrina Dias, years before that statement would become a reality. As a Newark native, born and raised - Dias comes from a proud Portuguese family that instilled in her, a love of music. She attended both Oliver Street School and Wilson Avenue School in her younger years and then went on to Arts High School, eventually making her way back to Rafael Hernandez Elementary School as a music teacher. “I’ve been around the block” she says. “I’m just excited to be on this journey as an artist, to represent Newark, and to bring love. I’m big on love.”
At the age of eight, Dias felt her first call to music. She wanted to play the drums. Her mother, a pastor in the area attempted to steer her in the direction of learning the piano as the idea of a young girl playing the drums wasn’t quite common. However, after the realization set in that Dias would come home from piano lessons and find a way to play the drums, her mother gave in and her journey as a musician began. Playing at her parents’ church, she became lead drummer by the age of 12. She accredits her mother as the reason she began singing. “My mom was a singer and I always admired that about her.” Dias says her mom continuously encouraged her to sing after hearing her in the shower and eventually she decided to start taking vocal lessons at 16. That opened the door for her to begin leading praise and worship at her church where she decided she also wanted to pick up the guitar as a means to sing and play - leading the band.
During this time, Dias was attending Arts High School, which she praises as a real driving force in her artistry. “First off, shout out to Arts High School, you guys are amazing” her face lights up as she recalls her time there. “My favorite school in the whole world. Going to Arts High was everything.” Dias didn’t know how to read music as she played by ear and says that going to the musical and visual arts high school was a foundation in her understanding of music. As the only female-drummer among boys, she says it wasn’t always easy because it was so different but the love and support she received from her teachers really gave her the drive to be the best, practicing as much as she could because she couldn’t settle for anything less.
"My principal, Ms. Jackson used to call me “Sheila E”, Dias begins to get emotional as she details the ways in which her former principal played a role in her journey. “Every time she saw me, she would say “You’re going to be like Sheila E, you’re going to be big one day”, she always believed in me.” Dias lists a number of teachers that were instrumental to her journey and says that it meant more than she can explain that they saw something special in her. It changed her life.
Fast forward from watching The Voice every week with her family, to being on the show – Dias remembers saying out loud that maybe one day, she’d try out. “Who knows? Maybe somebody will turn.” And now, years after the fact, the thought nearly forgotten and she gets a chair turn from John Legend who invites her to be on his team. “It’s been a dream” she says. The singing competition, in its 21st Season features music superstars; John Legend, Kelly Clarkson, Blake Shelton and newcomer, Ariana Grande. “The best thing about being on Team Legend is that he’s a singer and musician, so in that aspect we both connect and I’ve admired him my whole life.” says Dias. “Being a musician, being a singer and connecting with the type of music genre that we both sing, that’s where we connected before I ever even met him and it has been the greatest part of this journey.”
While Dias is living out her dream, she isn’t coy about recognizing those who’ve supported her and inspired her along the way. Growing up as a product of Newark Public Schools, Dias decided to pursue a career as an educator and came back to teach, instilling music in her students as her teachers did for her. “I have a passion for people and a passion for teaching, I think any person who becomes a teacher has a passion for people because if not, we wouldn’t do it. It wouldn’t work.” Dias currently teaches at Rafael Hernandez School where she is beloved and wildly supported. During the show’s first week of premieres, both her alma mater and current place of employment went above and beyond to show their love and support of Dias and her endeavor.
“Hernandez, wow, you know that I love you. All of you guys have a special, special place in my heart.” she says as she beams from ear to ear. “You have no idea how much they support me. I’m so grateful to be there, to meet the best teachers and the best coworkers that I could ever ask for.” Dias goes on to talk about the staff that she works with and shares how she brought her Team Legend boxing robe, a gift from Coach John Legend to school after she received her chair turn and every teacher and student was so excited and supportive. She shared that she has posters hung up all over her walls, mementos given to her by her students who couldn’t be any happier about their teacher’s journey on The Voice. “My students, they’re so beautiful. I’m extremely lucky.”
While a fan and judge favorite, unfortunately Dias was voted off of the competition two weeks ago during the Knockout Rounds. She performed Ed Sheeran’s hit song “Photograph” while playing the guitar and drums earning a standing ovation from judges John Legend, Kelly Clarkson, and Ariana Grande. When asked what advice she would give those wanting to pursue music, Dias said “Follow your passion and remember your purpose. Nothing is impossible, nothing is too hard, and nothing is too difficult.” She concludes by saying “If it’s something that you want, then it’s something that you go for, it’s something that you fight for. You have to pursue it with everything if that is your dream – it’s never too high, there is no difference between you and john Legend, or you and Ariana Grande – the only difference is that they fought for it and pursued it.”
The district couldn’t be any prouder of Ms. Dias as both an alumna and a teacher within our schools. We wish her all of the best and continued success on her musical endeavors.