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Q & A: The Voice’s Team Blake and Team Cee Lo

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The blind auditions powered on last Monday on The Voice. Blake Shelton added three more members to his team – Erin Willett, Brian Fuente, and Jordis Unga. Cee Lo Green also added three more members to his team – Sarah Golden, Erin Martin, and James Massone.

The Voice - credit: NBC.com/the-voiceThe newly minted contestants from both Team Blake and Team Cee Lo took questions from various media outlets this week about their experience on The Voice, how it felt when the coaches turned their chairs around, and why three of the contestants called out Adam Levine for not turning his chair around for them.

How’s the experience of being on the show so far?

Erin Willett: I definitely didn’t expect as much second guessing. You only see what happens on television and you forget that there’s a lot of sitting around and waiting and marinating on your decisions. Did I do that right? Did I do that wrong? So, I think that all the second guessing was something that I wasn’t prepared for. [There’s] some sort of confidence with it all, because you realize that you are one of the very few who get to be a part of this awesome show. I think that was my biggest surprise in coming into the show.

What’s it like for you to actually see your blind audition on air and see the reaction [that] the coaches were having to you?

Jordis Unga: It was absolutely bizarre, actually. I think everybody would agree with me that, you know, the stress levels during those blind auditions – I was totally zoned out. I don’t remember what the judges said to me. So, it was really fun to actually see what happened, and the responses were amazing. It’s overwhelming and exciting, I mean, I don’t really know what else to say beyond that – incredible.

A lot of you have gained a lot of fans online just overnight from seeing your audition. James, you got a tweet from Leah Remini from King of Queens. How does it make you feel to have gained so many new fans and even some celebrity fans?

James Massone: Oh, wow! It’s kind of overwhelming. It’s a great feeling. I’m getting a lot of love right now and with love, it comes with haters. The love is what I’m really taking in and I’m trying to soak everything in right now and it’s not really real right now to me. I’ve got to pinch myself a couple of times. But yes, everything’s amazing. Everything – all the compliments are amazing. That’s about it.

Erin, we really enjoyed how happy your father seemed to be that you’d gotten through this. I read here that he had passed recently. Could you tell us when was it that you taped this one and how [long] after that did your dad pass, and how much did this actually mean to him at the time before he passed?

Erin Willett: We filmed it in September from what I remember, and he passed away in December. On December 19. First of all, it was just a crazy experience watching him on the TV. I knew that at the station from, you know, knowing that I was going to be on the episode. But it was definitely awesome seeing, you know. So many conversations happen behind the scenes. It’s just like, him being so proud of me and you know, sometimes as a child, you sort of second guess that, but especially like in a horrible situation like that, you really kind of take in every word he says and then, you know, I just couldn’t be more thankful for this opportunity, especially at that time.

And yes, it’s kind of weird not having him here now that the show has aired. But, it’s kind of something that I know I can hold on to forever, and I know that he had such an impact on the people around me at the show. You know, the people on the call right now. I remember sitting with Jordis, talking to her, and she was sitting there crying with me when everything was going on. And you realize how much [supportive] everyone is with each other on the show; it’s kind of like a family, because you spend so much time with each other. And our family was out there filming with us, so it was really great for him to be a part of the experience.

When you guys are up there and you’re singing, and the chairs aren’t turning, and suddenly you look and see that somebody’s chair is turned around, does that change how you guys are performing? Are you aware when the chair turns around and then you suddenly go, “Alright, I’m in. I’m going to give it more.” Does it alter your performance in any way?

James Massone: Yes. Well, I was just kind of going up there , and I just kind of wanted to get the performance done. I didn’t think in any way that a chair would really turn for me, to be honest. But yes, when the chair turned, you kind of noticed it with me. I don’t think I sang to my best potential once the chairs turned around, because I was just shocked that they even turned for me. When a face like that turns around and they’re watching you sing, it’s kind of overwhelming and it’s tough to take in, you know.

Sarah Golden: I remembered just kind of feeling kind of calm-ish until starting to sing. And then as soon as the chair turned and I noticed it right away – when I got to the “You and I” part, my voice totally cracked. I was just like, “Oh my gosh.” And it was just like trying to overturn this crazy rush of emotions and say, “Keep it together. You have like 16 more seconds. Just don’t totally ruin the whole end of this.” It was definitely overwhelming to say in the least.

Brian Fuente: When Blake turned around, I almost felt numb. It was like, “Okay, this just happened.” I went out there, it felt so amazing to be on the stage first of all, but when that happened, it’s was just like, “Okay, wow! I’m on this show. This is the real deal, and this is the coolest feeling I’ve ever had.” And just the smile on Blake’s face- that was just so great.

Jordis, this is your second time at this. How did it feel to be on Rock Star INXS and then have the years in between and now getting another chance on The Voice?

Jordis Unga: I don’t even know what to say about it. I mean, it’s absolutely incredible. And all those years in between Rock Star and The Voice, I mean, there were ups and downs. There were record deals, there weren’t. There were poor jobs. You know, it’s been such a journey for me to keep doing here for a living and to be able to. I mean, not a lot of people get as many chances as I’ve gotten. And to be in this position again, I’m just so thankful and overwhelmed. It means a lot to me to be here, and I think it means a lot to the people who have followed me throughout the years. I’m just holding on tight to this one and take it as far as I can, for sure. It feels really good to be here.

Obviously the singer we saw last night (Monday, February 13) is significantly different than the one we saw on Rock Star. Can you sort of tell us how you’ve gotten to this point musically and also, what do you hope to get from this show that maybe you didn’t get from that show?

Jordis Unga - credit: NBC.com/the-voiceJordis Unga: I was really young when I did Rock Star. I think I was 22. And, you know, it’s been a lot of years. There’s been a lot of growth. There’s been a lot of changes. I’ve experimented with different types of music, different genres, different looks. Everybody’s wondering where the dreads are. I haven’t had those in years. And yeah, I’m different.

It was years ago. I don’t think the core of what I do as a vocalist has changed. And the beauty about this experience happening for me right now is that I’ve experimented and done all those things and really my only interest is to go back to why I started doing music in the first place, singing songs that are meaningful, and trying to make people feel. That’s always been my gift, as musicians like to really pull at people’s heartstrings.

And that’s what I enjoy about doing what I do, is the emotion and everything about that. So, what would I do differently? I really just want to do me right now – that’s it. And hopefully I can come out of this with music that my fans can play in their homes, because I haven’t gotten there yet. It’s ridiculous. That’s my goal.

Who are your musical influences, and what type of artist would you like to become in mainstream music?

Sarah Golden: My musical influences definitely vary. I know that’s very cliché. Everybody’s like, “I love everything.” I do love everything, but I’d say my strong influences are along the lines of the Indigo Girls, not to be totally type cast into the lesbian card role, but I love Joan Osborne. I love Ani DiFranco. I also like a lot of Texas artists – Terri Hendrix, Trish Murphy. These are all singer/songwriter, female, acoustic musicians that are just amazing in their own right.

Unfortunately, Folk is just not a very popular genre. But it’s not that I’ve chosen to be a Folk musician, because I know it’s not popular, it’s just what comes out. So, if terms of what I’d like to be when I grow up, I guess, I’d love to just continue being able to do what comes naturally and do the kind of acoustic songwriter/Folk thing.

How did you come to audition for the show?

Erin Martin: I auditioned for The Voice, because I’ve been a fan of The Voice ever since it came on television. And the funny thing is, my manager Roger Jansen, I’ve been with him a couple years now. And he’s been getting me out there, like showcases for different labels, like major labels. And I sort of get like, not turned down, but I just get like, “Well, she needs more development.” And the labels aren’t really developing people now. They want someone with a huge fan base.

If you audition for The Voice, and then you make it, then you’ll be in front of millions of people. It’s great exposure. And I was like, “Okay fine, I’ll do it.” So, I auditioned, and it’s like millions of people at the audition, “There’s no chance that I would ever get on this show,” kind of thing. That was kind of my mentality going into it. I’d be lucky if I got on it. And then I get in the call back session, and I then I got flown out to L.A., and I was just like, “Wow, okay. So, it’s really happening. I could be a part of this show.” And then walking on stage, I was having a mini panic attack and thought I was going to die, but I didn’t. I survived. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life doing that final audition.

I was totally entertained by the way Jordis, James, and Erin Martin all challenged Adam as to basically why you didn’t attract his interest. I’d like to know why that came to you to do that?

Jordis Unga: It’s pretty funny when I watched it, because I’m like, “I can’t believe I just said that to him. I was rude. What was I thinking?” But before I went out there, Carson actually told me that “Maybe I’m Amazed” was on of Adam’s favorite songs. So, I was genuinely curious as to what I missed for him.
And when Carson told me that, I thought I would have Adam for sure. I guess my head swelled a little bit, because I got the rest of them. I had to ask why he didn’t turn around. But if that’s one of his favorite songs, it makes sense to me that he wouldn’t hold it close to his heart and really listen carefully to what I was doing and be critical with that. So I can’t believe I challenged him on stage, but I did. And I’m not sure why, but that’s my answer.

James Massone: I don’t know. I just like to fool around and Adam didn’t turn, and I was wondering what happened? What the hell took you so long? And why didn’t you hit your button? But Adam’s a good sport, and I kind of wish he did turn around for me. I was thinking about going on Adam’s team, because I know how hard he works with his team, but I don’ know. That was kind of spur of the moment, and that was really what I was thinking. So, I just kind of said it. That’s about it.

Erin Martin: First of all, I was up there and I was highly distracted, because there was a lot of stuff going on and Cee Lo turned around, and by the time they turned around, all four chairs were turned around. So, I wasn’t sure who had turned around. But, the audience cleared that up for me quickly. I knew Christina wouldn’t want to be my coach, just because I’m so unique. I guess you just listen to my voice, and you’re like, “What am I going to do with that? Like, it’s so weird and so out there.” It’s unique and honestly, Cee Lo turned around and he was like, “I just heard something that was so bizarre and unique and wonderful.” It was like, he couldn’t wrap his head around it, but he was willing to try. And for Adam, I think it was just so unique that he just couldn’t, you know, like when you hear something that’s unlike anything you’ve ever heard, it’s like seeing a new color. So, it’s like, you’re dumbfounded for a second, and you’re like, “What is that?”

But I just feel the amount of time that you have to put two-and-two together, it just wasn’t enough time for him to just wrap his head around what he was hearing. And I don’t think it was bad. I just think it was just unique. And I honestly thought he was going to turn around. I thought that all the coaches were going to be open to new horizons, and I thought that I had something really cool and different to offer, because they were looking for something really cool and different and unique, and that it like the embodiment of my voice. And, you know, he said he liked it, but he just couldn’t figure it out, so I was like, “Adam, why didn’t you turn around?”, because I don’t know.

Jordis, what was it about The Voice that made you want to audition for it, as compared to maybe The X Factor or even American Idol? And why did you choose Team Blake?

I had just gotten released from a record deal and within a few weeks the opportunity to audition came up. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to do it.

My voice is what has always been the driving force and I really, after that experience, needed that reminder. And to be honest, I was terrified. But, I spent a lot of time in L.A., and I don’t care you are, it can brainwash you a little bit. So when I hit that stage, I just wanted to do what was in my heart, and it came off really well, I think.

I chose Blake, because he said everything that I needed to hear. And he turned around before I had any breath, before I did anything that I thought would get people to turn around. He heard something genuine in the soft part of my voice. And I really like that about him. And I think that working with Blake could bring out something that maybe would never have even occurred to me. 

The Voice’s next round of blind auditions air this Monday, February 20 at 8 p.m. on NBC.

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About Kirsten Coachman

Kirsten Coachman is an Entertainment Writer from the San Francisco Bay Area. She has interviewed a variety of people from across the entertainment spectrum, including singer-songwriter/Matchbox Twenty frontman Rob Thomas, Andrew Dost from the Grammy Award-winning band fun., singer-songwriter Christina Perri, and acclaimed writer-director Derek Cianfrance.