By Jamie Ruby
NBC's hit vocal competition, The Voice
, is back for a second season with all new contestants. The series is unique from others of its kind as it has blind auditions - contestants are judged on their voices alone, as judges choose who to have on their teams and subsequently coach. The judges include Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera, and Cee Lo Green. The contestants are then asked to choose between those judges that want them on their team.
The first round was split into two parts as the coaches chose their team members. On the second half, Blake Shelton gained North Dakota native Gwen Sebastian and previous Alicia Keys back-up singer Jermaine Paul, while Adam Levine added Angel Taylor, who chose Adam even though she has a huge crush on Blake, as well as seasoned singer Kim Yarbrough to his team.
The contestants recently talked to the digital media about their experiences so far on The Voice
NBC UNIVERSALThe Voice
Team Adam and Team Blake
Team Adam: Kim Yarbrough and Angel Taylor
Team Blake: Gwen Sebastian and Jermaine Paul
February 7, 2012
12:00 pm CTQUESTION:
I want to direct this primarily to Kim but anybody can jump in if you like. Can you just talk about what's the first 24 hours been like for you now that everybody knows that you're on the show and you're out on twitter? How has it been?KIM YARBROUGH:
It's been a wild ride. It's - my phone has been blowing up, text messages. I got 1,000 twitter followers last night or in the last 24 hours and it's coming in. It's well wishes and Facebook is blowing up. I mean it's kind of overwhelming.
I couldn't sleep last night. My friends had a viewing party for me last night and after the party I couldn't sleep when I came home. So it's been kind of surreal.SCIFI VISION:
My first question is directed towards Jermaine. I was just curious, at least going by what you sang on the show, it definitely wasn't country. So can you talk about why you chose to go with Blake?JERMAINE PAUL:
Well, I chose to go with Blake - you know, my daughter and my wife had watched the show last season and, you know, they were telling how good a coach Blake was.
And, you know, one thing they told me also was, you know, it's not really genre based. I mean it's cool be with someone that's in your genre but at the same time, you know, it's cool to be with somebody that's going to really appreciate what you can bring.
And one thing that he said that really caught my attention was that - you know, his back was turned to me and he turned around he saw exactly what he heard.
And it just kind of made me feel like he wouldn't kind of change me or influence what I'm doing in any way but just kind of help me cultivate what I do already, you know. So I mean I went with Blake, I think that's the main reason why I went with him.QUESTION:
I have a question for everybody actually. Why don't we start with Team Adam first? Had you tried out for any of the other singing shows before doing The Voice
Well, this is Angel. And no, I have never tried out for any show music related before so this is the first one.KIM YARBROUGH:
This is Kim, yes, I have tried out for probably every show imaginable, every show that I wasn't too old for. So yes, and I never got a call back on any of them, none of them. And this was the first time I got a callback. In my initial audition the people that were judging said, okay, you've made it to the second level and I started screaming.
And they were horrified thinking they were telling me that I was on the show. I understood what they were saying but I was screaming because I said, you don't understand, I've never received a callback for anything ever.
And they said, well, that's because they don't listen to the voice. I thought that was kind of cute.
Gwen...did you end up watching Nashville Star
the year that Miranda was a contestant or the year that Blake was one of the judges?GWEN SEBASTIAN:
I watched - I remember watching a little bit of when Miranda was on there, yes, absolutely. And I liked her then.QUESTION:
It's got to be cool for you now that you're going to have Blake as your leader and Miranda as a mentor possibly. It's got to be kind of a cool combination for you, right?GWEN SEBASTIAN:
Blake is my coach, perfect fit. I really - I've loved him from a long time ago, from his old red days, you know, from the days that he had longer hair, yes. So for him to even turn that chair around was an amazing experience for me.QUESTION:
This question is for Gwen. What's it like to get the chance at 37? Does it give you an advantage with more life experience?GWEN SEBASTIAN:
Gosh, you know, I don't know necessarily if it gives me an advantage over anybody else but I can say that if I would have been younger I might not have been ready, me personally.
And so all of the experience that I've had with singing and touring, always being gone, you know, that's really something that I lean on and I think that if I wouldn't have that I may have been in a different kind of situation, you know. I realize that definitely throughout the years it also is not just about me going out and signing. It takes so many people for me to able to do what I do.
And, you know, that along with experience is an incredible thing to have. And maybe, you know, getting up on that stage since I've been - I've been doing that since I was pretty little.
And so getting up on that stage I was really nervous but I think that it may have helped to have had that little background to get up there and just feel it. Because I was really just trying to live in the moment and just pretend like I was doing another show.QUESTION:
Angel, you confessed to having a crush on Blake, so why did you end up going with Adam?ANGEL TAYLOR:
Well, because looks aren't everything. No, I - it was a tough decision because, you know, Blake Shelton, I actually am a huge fan of country music myself. And the fact - I didn't think he was going to turn around just because I didn't know if I was his style or whatever.
It really was a tough decision but I feel really confident in choosing Adam. (Unintelligible) was just undeniable one so I feel like I made the right choice.QUESTION:
Jermaine, besides the fact that Blake is equally tall which you pointed out to him, why did you pick him over Cee Lo?JERMAINE PAUL:
You know, I'd never heard of Blake before this whole thing. I was introduced to him when I was introduced to the show pretty much, you know, through my daughter and my wife. But, you know, I really went with, you know, the moment and I wanted to really feel the moment and, you know, speak to both of them.
And Blake really - he really seemed sincere. And, you know, I'm a huge, huge Cee Lo fan. I mean I listen to his music on the treadmill. I'm a huge fan of his. But I just felt the sincerity from Blake and, you know, when you're up there, you're listening to both of them and you kind of just go with what feels right. And it felt right.QUESTION:
My question is for Kim. One of your questions that you had for the judges was what they see you as being capable of with your talent and they basically turned it right back to you saying that you were capable of any type of music. Do you have an idea of what direction you personally would like to follow at this time?KIM YARBROUGH:
Thank you, Ann. I'm personally a huge R&B fan. I always have been. But I am sometimes - even though R&B is my favorite genre I feel torn because I am classically trained and I was born in Memphis, Tennessee where you hear a lot of blues. So I cut my teeth on the blues, singing the blues comes naturally to me because of where I grew up.
So, you know, it's just - I wanted to know from them where they saw me because sometimes you don't see yourself as other see you and that's important to me going for something where you logically fit instead of trying to go against the grain and do something that really is not your niche. You think it is but people are looking at you sideways going, should she really be doing that.
So I want to go with the category that's going to be I would say that least path of resistance. R&B is my favorite, my heart and soul, but I love all types of music and I love singing all types of music.
You sang an Avril Lavigne song which is pop rock but you [sang] background in soul music for a long time. Will pop rock or a mixture of both will be in your future as a soloist? And was The Voice
your first step into becoming a solo star of your own?...Was this your first opportunity you decided to take on since performing with Alicia Keys?JERMAINE PAUL:
Well, you know, I kind of made the decision to step away earlier last year from background singing for her. And, you know, I did a couple spot dates with her but for the most part, you know, I, you know, started, you know, a band and, you know, just have been, you know, working on, you know, my own show.
So I did - done, like, you know, gigs in the city, New York City and upstate New York and just, you know, trying to - tried to, like, captivate my own sound. But The Voice
would be - this is definitely the biggest stage that I've been on as a solo act, that's the answer to the second question.
Now the first question was as far as genre of music, well being Alicia for so many years I've been able to kind of take notes and what she does is very - it's classified as soul but she definitely dabbles in pop and a little bit in rock.
And, you know, I guess, you know, it's really tough when you're an artist, you know, to kind of classify yourself. But at the same time, you know, you want to be true to all the music that you love.
So I mean I guess at the end of the day - I mean I don't know what I'm going to bring as far as the sound. I don't know what you will classify it as, but it will be good. It will be soulful. It will be R&B. It will be pop. It will be rock. It will be good, yes. I hope I answered you correctly.QUESTION:
[Gwen Sebastian] how old were you when you first started to sing with your parents in public and what was that like? And I wasn't sure if you still live in North Dakota and tried to do a national career from that or if you eventually moved somewhere else. So kind of tell us those two faces.
I was told that my first public appearance singing was when I was like four or five years old. And I actually had a huge perm that made my head look very round and correctional shoes. And I didn't know that until later on in life.
So that was my first time singing in public. Now as far as singing with my parents, I think I was a little bit older but they had a band pretty much my whole life, you know, while I was growing up. So I would get to get up on stage with them if they were playing for a wedding or what have you, or a fair and sing with them. They were my first musical influences per say.
And still influences in life, definitely. And then I did move to Nashville. I no longer live in North Dakota. I moved to Nashville actually 15 years ago. And tried to make a go of it and to be honest, when I first moved here I was a little - gosh, I mean everybody was so good here and intimidated I guess is the right word.
So it took me a little while to get back into the full throttle of music. I would do songwriter nights and write and things like that but it was only about the last, gosh, six years that I really have been doing music full time again. And I'm happy I'm doing that, that's for sure. But yes, Nashville, Tennessee is my home now.QUESTION:
This is a question for anybody who really has an observation on this. I think viewers love the tension between the coaches as far as the rivalry. From your side of things, what have you seen how friendly is it? (I think this was supposed to be about the tension between Adam and Christina) Does it get kind of nasty between them? What's it been like? That's for anybody.KIM YARBROUGH:
This is Kim speaking. Yes, I think people do enjoy seeing the coaches bicker a little bit. I don't think any of it runs any deeper than that though. I think they're just in it to win it. They're in it to play the game, you know. All of the coaches are very strong personalities, strong individuals. And each one of them is a winner.
So I don't think you can really expect them to come into this competition - it's a competition for them too. And they come with everything they have. And it gets kind of passionate at times but I don't think it goes any deeper than, you know, at the end of the day it's a game and I want to win.GWEN SEBASTIAN:
This is Gwen and Kim you just said it, that was perfect. I think that, you know, they all - each coach is extremely passionate about what they do. And I think they are really passionate about being on this show and helping us succeed.
And, you know, maybe sometimes they're looking at us and seeing a little bit of themselves because they all started where we did too, you know. It's all a really - you know, it can be a long process and it's a hard road to travel but it's the same dream.
We kind of share it - we all share that same dream and so the passion will definitely come out when they're interacting with each other. I think that's - you know, that's all part of it.
And plus, heck no, they're there to have some fun too. And I enjoy - I'll be honest with you, I enjoy watching them interact, like watching last night, that was fun.SCIFI VISION:
This question's for all of you. Can you talk about kind of what thought process you had going into choosing your song for your audition on stage?
For me I guess, you know, it was a number of songs I had to choose from but I felt a little skeptical about this particular song, the Complicated song, but I think it was a good choice for me because things are kind of always been kind of complicated, you know, for me in the music industry.
And you know, I think when I performed it I was able to tap into that, that emotion. I think, you know, it became more of a feeling than a song for me, that particular song.GWEN SEBASTIAN:
This is Gwen. I don't know if you wanted me to elaborate on that. I chose the song, Stay. I definitely wanted to stick to my roots which is country music and I chose Stay because it really - I don't know. It's just a compelling song. There's so much emotion in it. And, you know, when Jennifer Nettles sings it she - you just want to listen to it. And it - like I said, it's very compelling.
So I was hoping that, you know, I could bring that to the song and just kind of live in the moment. It's one of those songs where you just live in the moment. And I love the fact that, you know, it's just an acoustic guitar, that it's really broken down and people can really, you know, hopefully relate and, you know, connect. I wanted to really connect that way.
Plus I just - I love that song so that's why I picked it.KIM YARBROUGH:
This is Kim. I actually sang Tell Me Something Good for my very first audition for The Voice
in auditioning at the very first bottom level. And it was decided after a series of levels and a series of auditions by Mark Burnett and the producers that this would be a good song for my blind audition as well.
It's a song I've been singing for probably a decade. It lies very well within my range and it's a fun song. And I just love singing it. So I was really happy when they said we want you to do the song you did in your audition for us.ANGEL TAYLOR:
This is Angel Taylor. I didn't know if this is an everybody question, but I sang Someone Like You by Adele. And I was - same like Kim, really excited to hear they wanted me to sing the song (unintelligible) because Adele actually (unintelligible).
I mean it was just one of those moments that - I don't know, something that I will definitely look back on and really admire singing something that not only was such a popular song worldwide for, you know, the last year and even now but to sing something that, you know, has a personal meaning for me.
And to echo Jermaine in saying, you know, it was more a feeling than it actually was just performance. So I was (unintelligible) to have sung Someone Like You.QUESTION:
This question is for Angel. Where do you think Adam can take you musically as compared to the other judges?ANGEL TAYLOR:
That's a great question. I definitely think that Adam has complete 100% faith in me because just by the words he said, you know, during the blind audition. I really think that there's no boundaries with what we can do as a team together. And I know that he's building such a strong team already. And I'm just really thankful to be a part of that.QUESTION:
Gwen, I just wanted to finish up on that story you were telling us before. Two things, what were your day jobs in Nashville during that long in between time?
And second of all, your husband who's also kind of your musical colleague here, is he someone from back in North Dakota or is he someone you met in Nashville?GWEN SEBASTIAN:
He's - okay, so (Louie), a.k.a La-la. He's actually my boyfriend. And I met him down here, I met him down in Nashville. And he's kind of a Nashvillian but he originated from London, England. So he was from a musical family as well.
And he's been my - you know, he's not only my drummer, he's produced me and he's booked so many shows for me. He's pretty much done - you know, he's done a lot. He's done a lot. And as far as my day jobs go, I had gotten a job as a secretary at a real estate office and then all of a sudden they put me through real estate school and I was a property manager.
So I ended up getting calls at, like, 2:00 in the morning about people's toilets leaking down into other people's apartments. And I had to go collect rent, which was not the most fun job in the world let me tell you. Thank God I'm doing what I'm doing now.SCIFI VISION:
This question is for all of you or whoever wants to answer it. I'm just curious, when you're up on the stage and suddenly the coaches turn around, what is that like?
I was thinking if it was me I would want to stop singing because it would jolt me out of that. Did you try not to pay attention to that, or what goes through your mind?JERMAINE PAUL:
This is Jermaine.KIM YARBROUGH:
Go ahead, Jermaine.JERMAINE PAUL:
I'm going to jump on that one quick. For me, when I first went out that's all I could think about, you know, especially during the first verse whether the judges were going to turn around or not. But I think after - you know, after a couple seconds of singing and, you know, you kind of realize it's just another performance, you know, whether they turn around. It's a big performance, don't get it twisted, but it's another performance.
So whether they turn around or not you have this amazing audience that's all around you. And I mean they're so in to it so it kind of takes your attention away from the judges. And, you know, for me, when I started engaging with the audience and stopped thinking about the judges I think that's when they turned around funny enough.KIM YARBROUGH:
This is Kim. I started out in my first few seconds looking at the chairs and then I realized Kim you can't look at the chairs. You're going to mess up if you focus on the chairs. So what my acting coach always tells me is don't go in and try to book the job, go in and book the room.
And so from then - from that point in the song on when I decided not to look at the chairs I just kept thinking, book the room, book the room. You have this - as Jermaine said, this wonderful audience there that are very supportive of you.
And I felt as Gwen said earlier, you just have to pretend that it's another gig and that you're entertaining the audience and not think about, oh my God, are the chairs going to turn for me. So when the chairs finally did turn for me I didn't realize it at first because I tried to forget about it.
So when they - I did look up and the chairs had turned it was a pleasant surprise.ANGEL TAYLOR:
This is Angel Taylor. And yes, I mean for me - to be honest with you, I was like Jermaine. I couldn't stop thinking about it as I walking on stage. I can't believe that this is the moment, you know, it's built up to so much and, you know, it's finally there.
And I'm thinking about four red chairs and then someone - you know, I kind of gave an analogy to NBC saying that the blind auditions is kind of like sending a text message to find out if a guy likes you. And it's just like the moment to wait and find out, like, is someone going to turn around, is someone really liking me, we'll find out. And, you know, it's that nervousness.
And so, you know, Adam turned around really quick into the song for me and I think it almost - I mean I was obviously ecstatic but it almost made me even a little more nervous because I was like, oh my gosh, I to keep singing, I have to keep singing. And, you know, got choked up in the middle of it.
So I totally understand where you're coming from where you feel like, you know, you didn't want to stop singing at that moment. But, you know, Jermaine was right in saying that it's an audience and it's another show and a big show at that but it is - there's a bunch of people that are there let alone half of America that are, you know, engaged into what you're doing. And you kind of half to block that out of your mind.GWEN SEBASTIAN:
This is Gwen.KIM YARBROUGH:
Go ahead, Gwen, go ahead.GWEN SEBASTIAN:
No problem, no problem. I was wrapped up in the moment and I tried to really truly stay in the moment. And in some ways I kind of was - I forgot about where I was a little bit and then when Blake turned around I had a huge breath kind of come up through me and it was a sense of relief but like Angel said, it was like on my gosh, Blake Shelton's looking at me and now I'm singing to him.
It was all of that but I really truly just tried to stay in the moment.KIM YARBROUGH:
This is Kim. I just wanted to add one thing. When the chairs turned, I don't know how anybody else feels about this, but when the chairs turn you almost get like this extra boost of confidence and it doesn't make you want to stop. It makes you want to continue.JERMAINE PAUL:
That's right, I agree totally. It makes you want to continue and maybe add a little bit more juice on it, some gravy.GWEN SEBASTIAN:
(Unintelligible) that you - that's so funny you said that Kim because it definitely is an affirmation. I mean back to my cheesy 23-year-old analogy, it definitely is an affirmation because you're like, all right, let's do this then, like, let's keep it up. And so it's definitely a boost of confidence.