Chevel Shepherd on Missing Graduation, Prom Due to COVID-19: 'I Was Pretty Upset' (Exclusive)

After Chevel Shepherd won The Voice at age 16 in December 2018, she returned to high school in New Mexico, working on finishing up her senior year only to have it unexpectedly altered due to the coronavirus pandemic. Shepherd told PopCulture.com that she was in Florida just before the pandemic hit the United States and quickly returned home with her family to find out that all New Mexico schools were canceled for the rest of the year. "I was working on my schooling online, and I actually finished it in February before the whole COVID thing happened, and once I heard that graduation, there was a chance that it was being postponed, I was pretty upset," the 17-year-old shared.

"I was really looking forward to walking the stage, because I had told myself I juggled my music career and I did school at the same time," she continued. "That's just something I was really looking forward to, but once they officially had canceled in-person graduation it was cool to see all my classmates and my generation here in my town and across the United States just come together and lift each other up." Shepherd's school ultimately held her class' graduation on YouTube in late May, and she celebrated with her family at home. "I had helped my dad work all day," she recalled. "We do yard work at our old house and stuff, and then I got home and there were balloons and cake and my favorite food. [Shepherd's family friend] Anna cooked us enchiladas, and it was fun. People brought me gifts, so it was really cool. A lot of people, my parents really helped me celebrate, and Anna really helped me celebrate at my house."

Shepherd's prom was also canceled, but she revealed that her school is considering a way to have both prom and an actual graduation ceremony and parade later this year. "I was originally supposed to be having a concert on the day of my prom," she said. "I wasn't gonna go [to prom] anyway. I was supposed to be in New York City, and I wasn't gonna go anyway, but then once that concert got postponed before the prom I was like maybe there's still a chance I'll go to prom, and that didn't happen either. So they're looking for other ways to have that later this year."

For now, Shepherd has been quarantining at her home, keeping her fans entertained on social media with her Saturday Song Days series. "I think it's a cool way to connect with people and tell them that I'm still here, and even though we can't be in person they still get some music. I know music is the food of the soul, and a lot of people that's how they connect, and that's what brings everybody together," she said, though she admitted that quarantine has been "a little" boring. "I miss going out and performing, but it's given me a chance to hang out with family more, and I've been learning guitar, so it's given me a chance to learn a new instrument."

Along with school shutdowns, the coronavirus pandemic impacted a number of other industries including entertainment, forcing reality shows like The Voice to shoot remotely. "I watched some of the season, and it was so crazy to me, and it was kind of sad because I knew the contestants didn't get the same experience that I did," Shepherd reflected of Season 18 of the competition show, which ended last month. "I bet they were kind of sad about it, but I think they did a really great job of showing who they were as an artist through just a camera to the coaches, and I think the coaches really could feel what they were feeling."