Last year, Juliet Simms was ready to give up on her music career. After a series of disappointing record deals, she was losing faith in herself.
Those doubts have been put to rest.
"Last year, I was picking myself up from the ground, and thinking I'm not going to be able to do music much longer," Simms said Thursday from Los Angeles. "And there I was (Tuesday) standing there, and I was so happy to have come that far."
On Tuesday night, Simms placed second on the NBC reality singing competition "The Voice," losing by four percentage points to Jermaine Paul, a former background singer for Alicia Keys.
Simms said the show reinvigorated her and gave her more confidence.
"I set my sights on winning," said Simms, 26. "You have times when you get discouraged, and the improbability of (winning) hits you because there are so many amazing singers, but I kept my eye on where I wanted to be in the competition and I fought for it. If you really want something bad, you fight for it."
Simms quickly became a favorite on the show, with judges Christina Aguilera, Adam Levine and Cee Lo Green vying for her to be on their team. Simms ultimately chose Green, who turned out to be a musical kindred spirit.
Throughout the competition, Simms earned praise for her gritty vocals and electrifying performances on songs such as James Brown's "It's a Man's, Man's, Man's World," and The Police's "Roxanne," which she calls her personal highlight.
"Singing 'Roxanne' was my favorite moment because it showed people a different side of and who I was as an artist," said Simms, who moved from San Francisco to Clearwater with her parents when she was 8.
The Friday before the finale, Simms came down with a 103-degree fever, bronchitis, asthma and walking pneumonia, which she still hasn't been able to shake.
"I definitely feel (my performance) was affected by it," she says, her voice still hoarse from the illness. "But I pulled it together with all my power to get through all of those performances. But I'm still pretty sick."
Still, she said she couldn't be happier for Paul, whom she considers a friend.
"The tears I started crying were tears of joy and happiness that I had gotten that far, and when I looked at Jermaine and saw the joy and tears on his face, I couldn't have been happier if I had won. There was not a part of me that was disappointed."
Since Tuesday's finale, Simms has taken a much needed break, staying in her room watching movies and resting.
But she's ready to get back to business now. She said her manager has been fielding "lots of calls."
"Definitely there are some things in the works," she added with a laugh.
Simms said she doesn't know when she'll return to the Tampa area. But if and when "The Voice" contestants go on tour, she'll be a part of it.
And she has no plans to quit her rock band, Automatic Loveletter, though it's on hiatus for the moment. Simms is the lead singer.
Right now, she's focusing all of her energy on her music.
"Cee Lo came up to me after the show and said, 'let's record a record, baby.' And I said 'yes, let's do it.' I'm ready. I want to keep going and make music."