RIVER VALE, N.J. — Christine Houlis hopes her music will eventually resonate with the mainstream music industry, but until then the 20-year-old singer-songwriter is simply trying to reach people just like her.
Houlis, of River Vale, was something of an outcast at Pascack Valley High School. While her peers were studying for algebra exams, or out partying, she was immersed in video games and anime.
“With my parents being divorced and on top of being bullied, I felt really alone," she said. "When I listened to music I was able to pull myself away from reality and put myself into whatever the singer was singing about.
"There’s someone out there who feels exactly the same way I do."
That very individuality is what Houlis -- whose stage name is Alexa Houlis -- hopes will help her dreams come true.
She auditioned for NBC's “The Voice” in July and was cut after the second round. But it only helped her realize that she has a special something that will keep her from simply blending in.
“Being different is the most powerful thing in the world, and standing out in life is so important,” Houlis said. “It’s how you get a job. It’s how you get famous.
"You’ve got to embrace individuality, because you’ll go so much further in life than someone who’s just following their peers.”
"I don’t believe in college unless you want a specific job," said Houlis, who often performs at open-mic nights at Cool Beans in Oradell. "There are a million ways to be successful if you know what you want to do."
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.