"I’ve been trying to handle it with grace and just keep on keeping on," 18-year-old Marybeth Byrd tells PEOPLE
Marybeth Byrd knows a thing or two about haters, but she’s not letting them get her down.
“Coming from such a small town and only being 18, I’ve never done something this big with music in my entire life and sometimes the hate kind of gets to you,” she tells PEOPLE. “But I’ve been trying to handle it with grace and just keep on keeping on.”
The rising teen singer has learned to channel the negativity in a positive way.
“I’ve been receiving mostly love but I feel like, to us artists, since we’re our own biggest critics, the hate sticks a little bit more than the love,” she says. “It’s just one of those things where you have to take it with grace and just keep on and just do better each time. It honestly kind of makes me do better.”
Byrd has indeed gotten better in not only her singing, but her confidence when dealing with her coach, PEOPLE’s Sexiest Man Alive John Legend. As one of only three remaining contestants on Team Legend, Byrd opened up about her relationship with the EGOT-winner (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony), 40.
“John is the most real, genuine human being I’ve ever met. He is so sweet,” she says. “During the first few meetings and rehearsals it was nerve-wracking because I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s John Legend.’ But he’s really made a place in our lives where he’s like a friend to us. It’s a level of comfort that I’ve never experienced before. It’s amazing.”
“He really brings out the best in us,” she adds. “He really teaches us to be authentically ourselves and that’s what I love most about him. That’s what sticks — he loves us for us, so we should as well.”
The Arkansas native — who used singing as a tool to overcome her difficulties with stuttering as a child — says her experience on the show has been unbelievable.
“It feels so breathtaking because never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would be on such a big stage with such a huge platform with amazingly talented artists,” Byrd tells PEOPLE. “It’s just incredible.”
Living out her dream and working so closely with an impressive coach has led the singer to make a new discovery: John Legend is a fan of Frozen. Byrd learned the fun fact about her mentor during a vocal warm up.
“I’ve always been such a fan of his kids, Luna and Miles, they’re so cute,” she says. “A few rehearsals ago we were talking about song choices and he had little Frozen stickers on his laptop. I was like, ‘John, you’re a fan of Frozen?’ he said, ‘I am, but Luna did that.’”
“He’s just such a cool person,” Byrd says.