This morning at 11Alive, I spoke with the five metro Atlanta-based contestants on NBC’s “The Voice.” That’s an impressive take considering there are 48 semifinalists.
They are Mathai, Pip, Jordan Rager, Chris Cauley and Sera Hill. They are quite an impressive mix of voices and backgrounds.You can get more details about them here.
The next round is called the “Battle Rounds.” Each of the judges – Cee Lo Green, Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera and Blake Shelton- currently has 12 members. In pre-taped “battle rounds,” they will pair them off into six one-on-one battles, each dueting the same song. Then the judge has to cut them down to six people. We won’t see all 24 battle rounds today. This, I presume, will take four episodes since 12 people are featured each two hours. The final 24 will then go to the live shows April 2.
Here is video of each contestant explaining why the should win “The Voice.”
7:39 p.m. I spent all day on the set of “Single Ladies” and only now have time to actually write up some of the comments from the contestants. Here are some highlights:
Mathai ( who dared to sing Adele and get away with it), 18, who moved to Atlanta a year ago: “I’ve always loved music but I never believed in myself that I could do it as a career. One thing. I woke up one morning senior year. I’m a Christian. I heard a voice tell me that this is my calling. I was being directed in this way. It really is that dramatic. It was an overnight thing. We found out about a competition that introduced me to my manager. And that has brought me here. It happened so quickly. I’m just shocked.”
She did hedge her bets by entering nursing school. But “The Voice” is clearly guiding her elsewhere.
Pip (”House of the Rising Sun”), 19, from Marietta: “My revelation came about the same time. I was doing the same thing. I was going to school for pharmacy. I felt I had to get a real job. Funny. Mathai and I were both on another reality show: ‘The Glee Project.’ That’s when I dropped out of school. (Samford University in Birmingham). That’s the first time I had affirmation at a bigger level, that it’s something I could do as a career… I’m going to focus all my attention on this. If I do go to school, it’s a later thing… I remember, 8 or 9, watching the Grammys and saying, ‘I’m going to be there.’ ”
He realizes when Adam Levine, his coach, said he was a “chameleon,” that was a blessing and a curse. He likes too many genres of music and hasn’t honed in on his own style just yet. He tried when he said, “I want to do Adele with more rock, soul, pop and jazz.”
Jordan Rager (”Chicken Fried”), 18, from Loganville: “I’m like Pip. I listen to everything from country to pop to soul. Our stories sound scarily similar. I started singing in church. [His dad is a pastor.] At age 14, I started listening intently to country. I used to have a straw cowboy hate like Kenny Chesney. I’m a big fan of Jason Aldean. My favorite country artist is Alan Jackson. I grew up listening to him.”
Chris Cauley (”Grenade”), 28, from Atlanta: “I bounced around all over the place but I lived here my whole life. I was born and raised here. I’ve been touring for many, many years, done a lot of college shows. I have more shows under my belt than people double my age. I was doing 250 shows a year, touring like crazy. I got linked up with Tyler Perry and did a stage play with him ["Laugh To Keep From Crying"]. For two years, I didn’t focus on me. I was accepting everything that was coming in. I jumped aboard ‘Man in the Mirror,’ a massive Michael Jackson tribute show in London, did a world tour for two summers… I’m so blessed to play music for a living the past 10 years. ‘The Voice’ has been a blessing. I can’t think of another situation where you get 90 seconds to be in front of millions of people focused just on you. This is massive massive free promotion.”
[As we compared fedoras, he said he likes hats because it's easier than working on his hair.]
Sera Hill (”I’m Goin’ Down”), 24, from Lithonia. “I was six years old when I realized I could sing [at Covington's Richard's Chapel Methodist.] I was eight years old when I started doing theater. That helped me channel all my hyperactivity. I bounced all over the place. I did a few plays between 8 and 14, one with Ruby Dee. I performed anywhere I could. I did the National Anthem at Hawks and Braves games. I’d sing at graduations. People would say, ‘Stop singing! You sing too much!’ I went to Clark Atlanta for a couple of years and majored in theater before I decided to push music further. I joined Remedy, an R&B group for a couple of years. But I was back up, not the lead. It was Destiny Child-ish. I’m not a group person. I’ve since been getting my solo thing on. ‘The Voice” came to mind soon.”
And each person’s thoughts on their mentor:
Mathai on Adam Levine: “He has so much drive. He knows what he wants. Not in an offensive way but he’s the child of the group. He has the most youthful spirit.”
Pip on Adam: “I chose him because he was the first one to turn around. Each of them could do amazing things. But he wanted me the most. I could tell. As weird as it sounds, he has that passion. He critiqued me. The others didn’t. I don’t ever want to be totally satisfied with a performance. I can always do better.”
Jordan on Blake Shelton: “It sounds like a cliche but I would have been happy with any coach. But it’s no secret Blake was my first choice. He’s the best fit stylistically.”
Chris on Adam: “We had this long dialogue. I said whoever I pick is someone I think would be a good hang, a good person to hang. I didn’t want someone who, once the red light is off, we go our separate ways. I want the person to genuinely work with me. I want to this mentor to be a friend so I can be a sponge and learn.”
Sera on Christina: “It’s so crazy. She’s very dynamic. She’s a diva, larger than life. But in person, she’s really down to earth. She’s a genuine person. She’s very precise. She’s a perfect person to learn about my genre, R&B soul and she also can switch to hip hop and pop. She can help me become a more versatile artist.”
“The Voice,” Mondays, 8 p.m. NBC
By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk