Interviews

The Voice – Blind Auditions Night Three

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Q) Hannah I’m wondering, a lot of the performers on this show sort of work their way up to performing on The Voice. You kind of just dove head in – headfirst I should say with not a ton of experience.  How do you sort of prepare for a stage that big, how do you prepare for that moment? Or, I mean, what’s sort of the mindset going into that number one? And then number two, to perform as well as you did and have them wait until the very last second to turn around as they did, what was that like?

Hannah Huston:  Yes all that is true. It is new, singing – well not necessarily just singing, I think it’s just more of like specifically public singing. I just haven’t really done a bunch of gigs or anything. I think a lot of people have just tremendous stage presence and that’s something that I am growing. And I think preparing for that is just, you know, knowing your voice and knowing who I am and lots of prayer honestly and lots of practice.  I mean, I knew going up on that stage exactly how I wanted to sing that song. And I think you also have to know that you’re going to be nervous which I absolutely was. So you have to factor in that and just make sure you’re prepared. I just practiced a ton and I just – I knew how I was going to sing it and so going up there I just I don’t know, I had a confidence about me and I just took a deep breath and then starting singing. And then yes, along with your second question, it was 3/4 into the song and I have no chairs and I was thinking I was in my head I’m like okay, it can’t be that bad. I feel like I have got energy and it’s been fun and I’m having a good time and yes, they weren’t turning around. And so I just remember I was like okay, I don’t remember much but I do remember this, right before I sang my last note I just remember kind of having a moment and being just really calm and closing my eyes. And I just had this thought, I can be okay if I don’t get any chairs but I’m just going to, you know, wail this last note and just hope when I open my eyes that someone has turned around, whatever. And then that happened and then I just – I don’t – yes I blacked out for most of it but that part was the icing on the cake, it was a surreal moment. It was amazing.

Q) I know that you guys are getting a brand new fan base thanks to being on The Voice but you’re also getting new celebrity fans. Kristen, a lot of celebrities were tweeting last night and they follow The Voice. How does that make you feel that they’re rooting for you?

Kristen Marie:  It is like I think the weirdest feeling ever just knowing that like Jeffrey Auston who was on The Voice last season who to me is just like this incredible performer and who I look up to and I think of him as like famous, like he tweeted me and I just – it’s just this weird feeling of like surely this is not happening right now. Like I’m definitely going to wake up in a minute and like none of this is going to be real. I’m going to go back to work tomorrow like I have to like snap out of it. And then it just kind of like keeps happening and like Twitter is just sort of like the constant reminder of like oh my gosh, that really happened. I think it’s a really incredible feeling and it’s a really cool medium for us to get to communicate with people like that and it’s just insane.

Q) For Gina and Trey, because we didn’t really get to see your auditions last night so I was hoping each of you could tell us how it went, how you picked your song, and how you feel about being a member of Team Blake?

Gina Castanzo:   My song was Cecilia and the Satellite. This song means so much to me. I go to Firefly Music Festival every year and last year I got to see Andrew McMahon perform the song. And I remember I was like standing in the audience crying because it was that moving to me. And getting to sing the song and the song earning me a chair turn and being on Blake’s team, it meant a lot to me. I know America did not get to see my whole performance but I hope that they enjoyed the iTunes song and I hope that they continue to follow me.

Q) How do you feel about being on Team Blake? He said that was a weird match.

Gina Castanzo:  Yes definitely. It was crazy because I’m not a country singer and I love country music but it’s not my normal genre that I listen to. So it was cool having someone who normally really listen to indie music, Blake being that, turning around for me and recognizing that although I wasn’t a country artist I had something unique to bring to the table. And I’m so excited to get to work with Blake and to get to see what he thinks of my voice even though it’s not what he’s used to.

Trey O’Dell: I sang Geronimo by Sheppard. It’s a super, super fun song, super high energy, and I think it fits me and what I like to do best. It’s kind of funny because this summer my mom – before all this thing started she was e-messaging me and was like Trey, check out this song. You should perform this at gigs. And so I looked it up and I was like all right. So I started performing it at gigs and who would have known that I would have ended up auditioning with the song. It was almost prophetic. I had a blast up there. I had an out of body experience but I’m really glad that Blake saw something in me.

Q) Kind of going off what another question talked about, Brian, it kind of seemed during your audition to take a little while for the coaches to turn around. Were you worried at all that no one would turn around?

Brian Nhira:  Just like Hannah, I got through half of my song and I wasn’t really even thinking about much. Actually I did think at first, like when I finished the first verse I wanted everybody just to stop. I just wanted to make sure that they were actually sitting behind those chairs. I wanted to make sure there was people back there. But after I got past the bridge and I was going up to the last portion of my song I just said to myself this has been the greatest experience of my life. And if they turn, they turn. If they don’t then I’m going to continue just moving forward and I’m going to continue doing what I love — and what I love is singing and what I love is bringing hope to people. And I’m so grateful that they – that Pharrell and Blake did turn and it turned out all right.

Q) For Brian and for Kristen, I was hoping that you guys could talk a little bit about your song choices that you made for your auditions. Brian you chose to sing one of the coaches’ song, Happy of course, and then Kristen you gave a very interesting acoustic rendition of Mad World. So I wanted to talk a little bit about – I wanted you to talk a little bit about those song choices and how those came about for you and why don’t we start with Kristen.

Kristen Marie:   The song choice for me was really kind of nerve wracking because it was only this year that I started to figure out what my voice even is. Because I’ve never really been someone who like could easily like put myself into a category. And so this past year I’ve been writing a lot more and actually performing which is something that I had never really done by myself just because I’m awkward and scared. But Mad World is one of the first songs that I sang that I really kind of found my own voice in and so it was really, really just kind of a natural choice to get to sing it on the show. And it’s just something that showcases kind of like my weird vocal things that I do and all the different choices that I make. And so it was just – it’s a song that I can just kind of get into and I think those songs are really special. So it was just kind of the perfect song for me.

Q)  Brian, what made you pick Happy?

Brian Nhira: I chose Happy as my audition song whenever I saw an interview with Oprah and Pharrell. And it was after Happy had been out for a little while and it was obviously just a smash hit, people loved it, people all over the world were just singing the song. And Oprah actually showed Pharrell a video of people singing Happy all over the world in different languages, different cultures. And Pharrell began to weep, he began to weep uncontrollably. And that really did something to my heart when I saw that because I hadn’t seen that much feeling in artists, in producers, in people in the music industry in so long. And for – to see that it was just so refreshing. And I knew that this song was bigger than him. And so I wanted to do a song that was bigger than me and so that’s why I chose Happy. And also, I mean, you can’t help but smile whenever you listen to Happy. And so I was hoping I could make the judges smile.

Q) Brittany, you grew up in Montreal and moved to Nashville. Why did you decide to move to Nashville and why did you decide to audition for The Voice?

Brittany Kennell:  I love Montreal and grew up there, but I think I wanted just to discover a little bit more and grow a little bit more with music and I knew that kind of entailed me moving away from home and growing up a little bit. So I moved to Nashville and obviously wanted to pursue songwriting so that’s kind of where Nashville came in because it’s a big writing town. And The Voice was kind of just happened by happenstance. And I really took the opportunity to challenge myself to perform in front of a small crowd. When you go into the audition you kind of perform in front of producers. So I went in and kind of did that as a challenge to myself to see if I can kind of get over the nerves and perform and they liked it enough to put me through. So, you know, I’m super happy that I ended taking the ambition and going for it.

Q) Brian, I was just wondering how it felt for you to sing Pharrell’s song in front of him?

Brian Nhira:  I really didn’t think much about it until a couple of days before the audition yesterday. I didn’t think – I didn’t put too much pressure on myself because I felt like I had a different version of the song and so I thought that I was hoping – the biggest thing that I was hoping is that Pharrell would appreciate it. I wanted him to enjoy what I did with the song because it is such an amazing, amazing song. And so I didn’t put too much pressure on myself going into it. The only thing that I wanted was for him to enjoy it.

Q) Did Blake ever had a chance or did you already have Pharrell picked before you went on stage if he turned around?

Brian Nhira: Going into the audition I really did want Pharrell. But when Blake turned around I could see how bad he wanted it if that’s okay to put it that way. He really was so respectful and he really was so kind with how he presented it. And honestly my family wanted me to pick Blake. My dad, he really, really wanted me to pick Blake but in my heart of hearts I knew that Pharrell was the right choice.

Q) Natalie last season you auditioned with Oh Darling. This time you decided to do a more current pop song. I wonder if you could explain that.

Natalie Yacovazzi:  Yes, Oh Darling is a song that I absolutely love. I mean, I perform it in a different type of style with my band here and there and Paul McCartney is my absolute man crush of like ever. But it obviously didn’t really suit my voice. It didn’t help with the nerves to have such a strange tempo of a song as well and something that most of the viewers of The Voice really don’t know. So I figured this year to choose something more in my wheelhouse, something that I connected with the lyrics far more which definitely would be Mr. Know It All from my – honestly, in a relationship manner I connected with it but also for me it was kind of like showing the judges you don’t know me, you didn’t get to see who I really am the first time. I kind of robbed myself of that. I was too nervous and didn’t really show what I could do so I wanted to show them who I was. And I’ve been compared to Kelly Clarkson with my voice style which is always a compliment because I think she is just the queen. And I thought that this would probably be the best option for me and something that was more mainstream.

Q) Your The Voice bio tells us you have performed with several different bands in the Chicago area. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?

Natalie Yacovazzi:   Yes, I actually – when I moved from Ohio it was the day after I got married and I didn’t really know anybody here so I started going to church and a few months into that I started singing on the worship team. And one of the directors, because a lot of the churches in Chicago are kind of what they call megachurches. So one of the directors there heard me singing and he also was an owner of one of the Chicago cover bands so he asked if I would be interested. And it was something that I had never done before but I said that I would, I would love to.  And that kind of just started a trend where I sang with them and then other bands would see me so I have sung with some bands that nobody knows in Chicago and then I sang for bands like Keep Simple from (Steven Nine), I have sang with (Seventh Heaven) many times and they’re the best known band in Chicago and now thankfully I’m with another well known band Spoken For (Ninety Speak). So I’ve been really blessed to be with the bands that really are the most successful and it makes it worth my time to be away from my daughter because it’s a second job but I can’t, you know, turn that income down. And it’s also really improving my craft. So overall I’m pretty thankful for what we have here in the music industry in Chicago.

Q) For Brian and for Kristen, Kristen you’re a student at the University of Central Oklahoma and Brian you attended school at Oral Roberts University. And I wanted to know how your experiences at those schools helps prepare you or take you to the place where you were ready to audition for The Voice?

Brian Nhira:  Yes I graduated from Oral Roberts University in 2014 and those were the best four years of my life. ORU is a Christian school and I was one of the – as soon as I got on campus they made me one of the main worship leaders. And so on Wednesdays and Fridays I was singing in front of 3500 students and we were live on TV. And so it just helped hone my craft, it helped me become a better singer. I had to be prepared every single week or else it wouldn’t be good. And there were definitely times where it wasn’t good. But I had the opportunity to also sing original songs. I just came into my own during my time at ORU. And also on the educational side, I studied organizational and interpersonal communication. It really has helped me in the aspect of music business, which we all know is 90% of what we do.  It really helped me just be organized as a musician, it helped me get everything that I needed in place. The degree is basically everything business that doesn’t have to do with money. But it was really just four incredible years of me becoming a man, me becoming responsible and me honing and sharpening my gift.

Kristen Marie:   Yes, I think my experience was probably like slightly less successful than all that magic. But I’m a theater performance major at UCO and I don’t know, I used to have a lot, like a lot of stage fright issues and I still – obviously we all still do. We get up there and then we like feel like we’re going to pass out. Or some of us just get really excited which I’m completely jealous of. But no, theater performance really has been just like the biggest, biggest blessing to me just because it’s like – that was really the only reason that I could kind of put on like the normal face and not just like lay down on stage and be like oh my gosh, this is happening. So it just really helps me to kind of like find that like center in myself and just kind of take a deep breath and not pass out on stage, don’t like fall over. So that’s really where it kind of benefited me the most.

Q)  Malik, Kristen, Ryan, and Peyton could explain your coaching decisions. And if we could start off with Kristen please. You were facing a lot of pressure from Blake because of the Oklahoma connection but you went with Christina. Why was that?

Kristen Marie: That was the toughest and weirdest moment I think that I have had ever just because the whole time going in and before and even just watching the show I was always like I would definitely pick Blake, like no matter who it is, what season, what the other coaches are, like it’s always going to be Blake.  And then I got up there and then it just sort of – Christina said all the things that as an artist I just really needed to hear to pick her. And in my head I was like I should still pick Blake, right? Like I’ve always wanted to pick Blake, right? He’s an Oklahoman, he knows what’s up. But she just was so convincing and so sharp and so funny and I – like how can you turn down the queen honestly? It was insane. And so she just said exactly what I needed to hear to be convinced.

Malik Heard:  Well, growing up Christina was one of those powerhouse vocalists that I always looked up to, you know. I worshipped her because she was amazing with all of the rasp and everything that she did.  You probably could tell in my performance, you know, that was probably one of my inspirations growing up because of all the runs and the different things that I do. And she was a great performer and she just said the right things.   She was just saying how she was – at a young age she worked with Britney and Justin Timberlake and I thought that was really cool, you know. And she like worked with them and she lived it at a young age. She knew what it was like because she lived it. Pharrell, he also with him I was just so proud that they both turned for me because Pharrell is just an amazing producer. And I was so sad that I turned him down but I mean Christina is just one of those people where you just can’t say no to her, like Kristen said. And yes.

Ryan Quinn:  Oh my God, it was an incredibly difficult decision for me to make. I really just thought Pharrell going into it, he’s just such a well rounded person and producer that – I don’t really know what category I fit into, I have always had trouble with that. But when they’re all pitching themselves to you after you snap out of the oh my God I just got a four chair turn fog and you really are just taking everything that they’re all saying, I just felt like Adam – we connected on musical influences, Jeff Buckley and we have a similar singing style. He seemed really genuine and really passionate. He said he would try to take my way and I just really believed him.

Q)  Yes you were facing a lot of pressure not to go with Blake yet you did. And why was that?

Peyton Parker:  Yes, it was crazy. Christina and Pharrell and even Adam who didn’t turn around were all trying their best to not get me to go with Blake. But at the end of the day I’m a country singer and I just feel like Blake understood me the most as an artist. And it would have been amazing to work with any of the coaches. But it’s kind of like what Kristen said about Christina. I just feel like he said what I needed to hear as an artist and I felt like I could bring – he could bring the best out of me.

Q) On your website you identify yourself as a Boston Terrier wrangler. What’s that about?

Peyton Parker:  Yes, I have two Boston Terriers and they’re the craziest dogs in the world so they need wrangling sometimes.

Q) Hannah, the song you chose last night to sing Unaware by Allen Stone, what was your reasoning behind that? Why did you choose that song?

Hannah Huston:  Why did I choose that song?  Allen Stone is a wizard, he’s amazing. I have had that song I don’t know, introduced to me a couple of years ago. And as it was introduced to me it was this awesome dude who was singing soul music and he’s white and he’s super cool and he has this version where he’s just jamming in his mother’s living room and it just spoke to me. And it’s just like this long jam session and he just believes in this song and he just believes in like the players next to him, the people who were playing in his band and it’s beautiful. And it was this vibe that you just – I could not stop watching it over and over and over again. So it was introduced to me a long time ago and it has been a song that’s been with me I don’t know, just ever since. And I have sung it at different things, I have just been able to jam with that song with different artists that are friends of mine.  And just like  my voice I love that soul feel, I love the way that he takes a note and he twists it and he does weird stuff with it. And I don’t know, and then there’s like this depth to the song that’s just super meaningful and beautiful. And so I was happy to sing that song and glad that it worked out that I could audition with it. It also is dynamic enough so you can, you know, change you voice, do different things. And so yes, it was a great blind audition song. I’m just thrilled that I got to sing an Allen Stone song. It’s like that’s a dream come true to me on national television I’m singing one of my all time favorite artist’s song. So super cool moment.

Q) When you walked on the stage did you have any preconceived idea of who you wanted to pick as a coach should you get through?

Hannah Huston:  Yes major if.  I had a preference. Like I was thinking, if I had a choice if I could I would love to work with Pharrell.  But when you’re up there, there’s just something that happens to you that like it’s just a tumbling moment where you have four people who are successes, like they’re huge and they’re giving up time to just help someone else who has maybe potentially no experience or had a hard time finding the right opportunity.  And so I was hoping that Pharrell would turn around just because I know he’s just got this mind for music and creating music. And he looks at the heart and he looks at the meaning. And so that just – if he were to turn around I kind of knew.   But I mean, you get Christina Aguilera talking to you and Blake Shelton was giggling and the whole time I was just I don’t even know any more. So you just kind of go into this fog of I just if I ended up going with my gut and I’m really happy about it. And it was just really, really cool that three people turned around and I had a moment to kind of think about it which was crazy. So I was just really humbled and grateful.

 

*CONFERENCE CALL*

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