CLINTON — Singing for "The Voice" may not end in a major recording contract or world tour for Lydia Parker, but it doesn't have to.
"Right now I just think about my kids first," the mother of two said Tuesday at Clinton's Riverview Park. Any opportunity that arises from Parker's upcoming journey in the competitive television show is a chance for her to give her children a better life than she had, she said.
Born at Mercy Medical Center in Clinton, Lydia Rose was adopted by Diane Lynn and Steven Jay Vugteveen and moved to Michigan when she was about 5.
Parker returned to Clinton at 17 after her birth parents said they'd help her get through school. That didn't happen, Parker said. New to town and unable to go home, she found herself on the streets at the age of 18.
"I spent a couple of nights here," said Parker, nodding toward the park.
"I didn't have any friends." She'd been bullied in high school, she said, which is part of the reason she dropped out.
A classmate allowed Parker to stay with her family, and Parker started working at her grandmother's restaurant, getting her life together, she said.
Parker met her husband, Tim, on Facebook when she was 18. His photo popped up, she clicked on it and saw that he was a vocalist with a band. Music was important to Parker, and the two began a relationship.
They were married in December 2012.
Facebook was also instrumental in starting Parker's music career.
"I was a stay-at-home mom," Parker said. Her daughter Alaina is now 6.
Parker recorded herself singing and posted the video on Facebook. To her surprise, she began to receive inquiries from bands who needed vocalists.
Parker began singing with The 38s, which later became Lydia and the Dirty Apes, performing at Johnnie's Tap, Manny's and King Pins Saloon and Dance Hall in Fulton, Illinois, Gypsy Highway in Davenport and venues in the Quad-Cities, she said.
"A lot of [gigs] at Hook's. Hook's has been very supportive," she said.
"I've been booking Lydia and her bands here for the last four years," said James Hook, owner of Hook's Pub on Fourth Street in Clinton.
The band's guitarist, Sam Brewer, contacted Hook about getting a gig there, he said. When Hook heard the band, he booked them.
In the past year Lydia and the Dirty Apes have played seven or eight times at the bar, Hook said. "She really packs the house."
Hook was excited for Parker when she told him she'd been selected to be on "The Voice."
"I wasn't surprised," he said.
"She's amazing," Hook's wife, Amy, said. "She's got a good heart. She's really easy to get along with. She appreciates her fans. She appreciates everyone who's helped her."
"I'm the one that really pushed Lydia to come to the forefront," Brewer said Tuesday. Brewer was married to Parker's mother's sister at one time, he said, and still thinks of Parker as his niece.
"I wanted Lydia to be out front. She's got a terrific voice, and she's a beautiful girl, obviously. She's got what it takes," Brewer said.
"I used to do shows every weekend," Parker said Tuesday, but she slowed down after her son was born. Caleb Floyd will be 2 in July. Parker tries to perform once a month now, she said.
"The Voice" has been on Parker's radar for a couple of years.
"I sent in a video, and I was going to try out," Parker said, but she got pregnant, and the time wasn't right.
That wasn't the end of the idea, however. Marilyn Wilfong Coleman sent "The Voice" an audition video of Parker, and she was accepted for the show.
"I always considered myself a karaoke average singer," Parker said.
Her friends thought she was better than that.
Parker will audition in front of voice coaches in Chicago on June 22, she said.
"I'm very excited for that," she said.
She's never had voice lessons, so she's interested to hear what the coaches have to say.
Parker hopes to attend the Atlanta audition, too, "Just so I can get very prepared."
If she passes the auditions, she'll travel to Hollywood in September.
"It's a completely different ballgame than what I'm used to," Parker said.
While Parker's voice has given her a chance at stardom, it's her friends that have given her "that extra boost of confidence that I needed," Parker said.
She's thankful to Jimmy "for believing in me" and to several unnamed friends "for helping me keep balance and staying focused." She's thankful for Coleman, who keeps the details straight "so I don't have to be as stressed."
"I've had so many opportunities already," Parker said.
Regardless of the outcome of "The Voice," she'll have choices.
"I've had a lot of people getting hold of me to do shows," Parker said. She's also been approached about singing the national anthem at a Major League Baseball game.
Lydia and the Dirty Apes will play Saturday at the Man Cave Expo at Econo Lodge in Clinton from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The performance is a benefit for the families of Clinton firefighters Eric Hosette and Adam Cain, Parker said.
At 9 that night, the band will play at Stalkers Pub in Miles.
Johnnie's Tap will have a benefit for Parker on June 15 and Hook's will host a benefit from 1-7 p.m. July 14 to help with audition expenses and Parker's trip to Hollywood.