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The Voice Interviewby Pattye Grippo    

The Voice

This is an interview with Team Christina & Team Cee Lo on February 7, 2012 about the show The Voice.

Question:
What's kind of going through your mind during the audition on stage?

Lindsay Steele:
The whole time the audition was going on; I was like trying in my head to turn nervousness to excitement. I just kept saying, "This is really exciting! This is good! This is not like the scariest thing you've ever done in your entire life." Then kind of jumping up on that stage and on those stairs, it just starts to feel unreal. It feels like one of those really lucid dreams, especially for musicians because I'm sure all of us are kind of in our heads like, what if this ever happened? So we have this vision and then when the vision meets reality, it's a very, very bizarre and amazing sensation. Besides that, just really nervous. Yes, that's about it.

Question:
What is it like actually working with your mentors?

Leland Grant:
I'm here with Hailey of course. We're called The Line. It was incredible working and Christina is amazing. She is super talented, super intuitive. For me, she's one of those people who doesn't have to say a lot because she's so talented and she's just done everything for so long, she can say something so simple, but it means so much. I hope that makes sense and as usual, Hailey can clarify what I'm trying to say.

Hailey Pavao:
I agree with Leland. What Christina would say would be really short and sweet, but really poignant at the same time. For me coming from the little girl perspective, I was that little girl in third grade who idolized Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears kind of that era. So to have her standing across a grand piano from me and telling me how to sing and showing me what to do, it was wild for both of us.

Jamar Rogers:
Like the show showed, meeting Cee Lo was probably one of the highlights of my life. Working with him has been even better just because a lot of people know him as talented and eccentric, but a lot of people don't know how wise he is and he really just spits some like real words of wisdom, like some life lessons. I always feel like I should have a notepad and a pen when I'm talking to him just because I don't want to miss anything. I want to take it all down. So meeting him, he's just as cool as he appears on television, for sure.

Angie Johnson:
I'm on Team Cee Lo and everything that Jamar just stated is so true and about Cee Lo, I think the thing that most people most mis-conceptualize about him is that he's got a stage persona where he's super out there and he's innovative and he's colorful. Then when you actually talk to him, it's almost like two different people. He's very quiet and soft spoken and he's very tender. I don't know if that's like a big part of Cee Lo Green that the rest of the world knows. All of those little gems of wisdom that he gives, it just really feels when he talks to you that they're coming straight from his heart.

Question:
Hailey, I know that you went to Belmont University, which I understand is a music kind of school. I'm just wondering how that experience there helped you get to this point?

Hailey Pavao:
Actually it's funny that you ask that because the way I met Leland was actually through my internship that I was doing through Belmont. I was interning for a small off-set label of Big Machine and Leland lived in L.A. at the time and was visiting Nashville and he came to a party that our label was having. I just happened to be there as an intern and that's how I met him. So my experience at Belmont had very much to do with us getting to this point.

Question:
Angie, I don't know if you're still in the military now and I wanted to know also, what were your original duties in the military before you - what was your rank and what were your duties before you joined this music group? And in a music group in the military is that a full time job then or is that something you do plus something else?

Angie Johnson:Once I served for about three years in the Air Force band, I left active duty to move to Nashville and pursue a professional career as a musician and ever since then, I've been one weekend a month in the International Guard in Missouri. I'm still part of the Air Force band system and so when I do duty, I go unless we get deployed, which is what happened last summer with the YouTube video. I deployed for about two months.

Question:
What facilitated you to try out for the group that you did? Had you had lessons? Had you been on stage before? Because watching you last night, I mean you seem very seasoned, you seem very poised. Could you tell us a little bit more about your musical experience prior to being in the service?

Angie Johnson:
Prior to being in the service, I really didn't have a lot of musical experience. I joined when I was 19 years old and I really just sang at musicals in school. I had some solos in choir and I sang in a little church group called The Pleasants. That was the bulk of what I had done prior to joining the military.

Once I joined the military and became a member of Tops and Blue is when I really started learning how to be an entertainer and how to be a performer, and then that kind of positioned me to be able to audition for the Air Force band. All of those years of just entertaining troops is where I learned how to be a showman and I don't really have a lot of commercial experience at all.

Question:
Lindsay, how did you feel getting through the audition and how much of that bulked your confidence moving forward?

Lindsay Steele:
Going into it, I think at every stage of the progress of getting to that blind audition, I was just so amazingly surprised and I was just like man, singing in front of these people is going to be awesome. I don't really think anybody is going to turn around, but that would be amazing. When three of them did, it was like probably the most beautiful affirmation I've ever had. Just kind of realizing that what I love to do, people might actually like what I do too.

It was great and moving forward, I mean, it's just made like everything I've been thinking and wanting in life, I feel like I can really go for now. It's great and it just motivates me 100 times more to get my art out there and my songs. It's probably one of the most proud moments of my life so far.

Question:
Hailey and Leland, coming into the show how were nervous were you about being a duo and can you talk about the risks of being a duo on a show like this?

Hailey Pavao:
I think we were a little bit nervous going in, but you know, because there are two people obviously, so it's double the pressure, but I also feel like it kind of gave us more confidence and it gave us a leg up.

Leland Grant:
I think we went in with slightly different mindset than everybody else because everybody else was kind of on their own. While you make friends out there, in the end it's you and a microphone. So having somebody to lean on is great and having somebody that you can trust and you can talk about stuff because sometimes it's hard.

Sometimes it's hard to be your own sounding board and it was great to have Hailey there to where you can say, "Hey, should we do this?" or "How should we sing this?" or whatever, despite making all of those decisions for yourself. It's always good to have another opinion. That's why I think it was an advantage for us going in.

Question:
Jamar, how did you go through the process of disclosing your HIV status and in that process, did anybody try to change your mind?

Jamar Rogers:
It's really funny. I did American Idol a few years back and I had already at that point been living with HIV for three years. I remember just being completely petrified throughout that whole process that you know, the producers would find out or maybe my roommate would find out, and I just lived with this massive like cloud over my head, kind of in the shadows.

One of the things I wanted to do with The Voice was I began to realize that you know, we need to have a national conversation about this because there are a lot of young people that are dying from this that don't have to. I wanted to get the word out there that if you take your meds, take care of yourself, then this is no different than any other kind of illness like diabetes. It's definitely manageable.

I have now been undetectable for five years. I don't even a cold and that's just strictly by the grace of God. I decided to come clean because at some point, you have to decide that you want to live for something greater than yourself. Although I love music and music is completely my passion, as hard as I was trying to become this superstar, I felt like I had an obligation to give back to my community and to let people know that there' hope for them and there's hope in time, and there is no pit too deep that you can't climb out of.

I will say that when I presented the ideas to the producers and to my family, not one person tried to talk me out of it. Everyone was extremely supportive and the support has just continued. It's actually been really overwhelming and yes, that's that.

Question:
Lindsay, how did you prepare to deliver your Trey Songz cover in your own style and did you have any reservations along the way?

Lindsay Steele:
I just sit down with a guitar and I listen to the notes, and I learned the chords. I actually ended up changing the chord progression, actually there's a different chord in there, but no one seems to care that I changed the progression, which was awesome because I thought it gave it a little bit more of a moody dynamic.

Really, I sort of sat alone and because I see a lot of musicians trying to fit into what a pop singer would sing, they kind of emulate it and I realize that I don't sound very well when I do that, so I kind of do the opposite and I try and take what they do and make it fit into what I do. That's just how I can represent myself the best, I guess. You really won't ever catch me singing like a pop song like a pop singer because it just doesn't sound good. I think it's amazing when people can do that and they're very versatile, but I'm just not that, unfortunately. But yes, I just sort of sat and practiced and with Whitney Myer and Lex and other people in the hotel, we would just rehearse again and again and again and again. Hours of like going crazy over this one damn song.

In the end, even though I had practiced it so many times and it sounded really mundane to me, I think that I got enough of my own influence and that people kind of saw it as a unique song on its own and that's just incredible. I'm glad that people were into it.

Question:
The Line, what is going through your head the moment you see all four chairs turn around and you have about 30 seconds to make a decision. What is going through your head at that moment?

Hailey Pavao:
We were having so much fun on stage. Blake turned around really early on, I think before he even heard my voice come in, he turned around for Leland. We were having so much fun and we look at each other a lot when we sing, so I remember looking out at the audience, looking back at Leland and when I looked back into the center, Christina, Cee Lo and Adam were turning around, sort of like bing, bing, bing. It was just so exciting at that point. I couldn't believe that it was happening. It sort of felt to me like we were in a video game watching or playing a game - just watching it play out. It didn't really feel like it was happening to us at that point and then making a decision, having those four great coaches fighting over you it almost hurt our feelings that we had to make a decision between four great coaches like that. It was hard.

Question:
Hailey, there is a tremendous amount of local excitement about your performance last night and advancing. Can you tell the people back home a little bit about what's going through your head right now and how this maybe differs a little bit from the stage performances you've had over the years?

Hailey Pavao:
The community that I grew up in South Dakota is very tight knit and everybody has always been very supportive of me. I've gotten a lot of messages, tweets, Facebooks, E-mails and congratulations and you know, I'm really glad that I could do my home state proud. I don't know, it's really exciting and this is obviously on a different level than I've ever done anything before. Also, my fan base in South Dakota has really grabbed a hold of Leland and grabbed a hold of The Line, so it's just really exciting and I'm very, very grateful for that local support, so thank you.

Question:
Could you tell me a little bit about your musical background in the Midwest leading up to this and then how did The Voice find you? Did you apply or audition online or how did that work?

Hailey Pavao:
Leland and I just auditioned in Atlanta. He had a little cold the day of the Nashville audition and he said, "Well why don't we just drive to Atlanta?" And actually, Leland had a kayak to pick up in Atlanta, so we took a road trip.

Leland Grant:
True story.

Hailey Pavao:
It was really fun actually. It was the first time that I had Bojangles, so we were looking for a Bojangles on the way home. That was really fun, but yes, I got my start really early. The first time I ever performed, I was two and a half years old and I sang at my aunt's wedding and I sang You Are My Sunshine. Then I started begging my parents to let me go sing in church and I would call nursing homes and tell them that I would perform for $20 and a Thanksgiving turkey, so it all sort of evolved from there.

Question:
When did you move to Nashville?

Hailey Pavao:
I moved to Nashville when I was 19 and started going to Belmont, so that was four and a half years ago.

Question:
You were truly surprised when all of the judges turned around?

Hailey Pavao:
Yes, We had an idea in our heads from our very first audition of who we wanted to be with and it's not who we picked. It didn't go how we thought it was going to go. A lot of people are really surprised that we didn't pick Blake. That would've been a very obviously choice and we love Blake Shelton, but Christina was so passionate about us and you know, she fought and she got in the boys' faces. She just fought really hard for us so ultimately, we went with our gut decision and I think it was the right one.

Question:
Jamar, I know you touched on this a little bit with your earlier answer. I just wanted to ask, what was it that inspired you to finally turn your life around and get clean? Did you have sort of a moment that was a wake-up call or what sort of finally inspired you to go after your dreams?

Jamar Rogers:
I was living in Atlanta at the time and by then, I had been using pretty hardcore for about five years. I had gotten down to 125 pounds and it was bad. None of my friends would let me live with them because I feeling so numb. I literally was homeless. My whole family didn't even know where I was for like two years. There were Christmas's that went by and they had no clue where I was. I remember just picking up the phone and asking my mom if I could come home and she was so elated I had basically just hit rock bottom. I had nothing. I had no job, nothing.

When I left Atlanta and moved to Milwaukee, I ended up getting sober for two different reasons. One because there was nothing else to do in Milwaukee - it was like I couldn't find any meds if I wanted to. And two, I joined a church in Milwaukee where I ended meeting Danny Zokey and we started singing together and I had been clean for a few years when we auditioned for Idol.

The rest is just history. The more I fell in love with music and the more I realized that I had a story to tell, it enables your sobriety and it enables your recovery. I don't think I mentioned this earlier, but the reason I decided to talk about it on The Voice, I did have a friend that overdosed last year and he was only 25. I figured that this is something we need to talk about. We're so wrapped up with the Kardashians and wrapped up with nonsense when there are people that are really hurting out there and are really struggling.

I needed to let people know that drug addicts and people living with HIV are not leopards there's more of us than you think. The more that we're open about it, the more we set a national conversation about it, I'm hoping people stop dying.

Question:
Angie, I wanted to go back to you for a minute and just ask you for a few more details. Can you tell us what town you grew up in and during your Nashville phase, what your day jobs were, and then if you could just describe a little bit more about what it felt like earlier on when the YouTube thing started to blow up?

Angie Johnson:
I've had a lot of odd jobs in Nashville. I've waited tables, I've done homes for insurance, I've watched peoples' kids, I mean basically any kind of odd job to make an extra buck. It's what everybody else in Nashville is doing, So that's my story as far as what I've been doing since I've gotten to Nashville. I'm just writing and recording anytime I could and singing anywhere I could for pennies. Prior to that with the military and being in deployment and the gigs, this is my seventh one.

This is the seventh time I've been in the Middle East. I don't mean to sound cliche, but it's old hat for me now, its like, "Oh yes. I'm going to Iraq again, awesome." The troops have such a yearning for home and they have such a yearning for something familiar to grab onto while they're out there for six months to a year at a time. They're the best shows in the world, so I could've just never expected that a YouTube video would've been posted and seen by so many people. It's a story that I couldn't have created myself.

I'm a driven person and I am very goal-oriented in the way that I approach life. You know, I say, "I'm going to do A, B, C and D." And I go after those things. This just kind of fell out of the sky right into my lap and rocked my world. I just can't believe it, even still I look at the story and how it's unfolded and I'm like, this is my life. Whose life am I living? So yes, seeing how many families at home are attached to it because it helps them feel connected to their loved ones who are employed. It's something that I don't know that I'll ever be able to express with more words.

Carson Daly picked it up and tweeted about it and facilitated an audition for me a lot of things happened before I even came home from the desert. Then I got to come audition in L.A. and I think the bottom line was, is a chair going to turn around? On that moment when I was on stage singing, I felt like I couldn't fail. I can't. There are too many people that have watched and someone has got to turn around, so I really just put it all out there and had nothing left by the time I walked or they turned around.

Question:
Cee Lo actually joked about on Sunday night's show that the sexual tension between Adam and Christina. Have you guys observed that? Do they give each other a hard time? What's the dynamic like?

Leland Grant:
I'll chime right in. I think I think the tension, from my perspective and from standing on the stage and our interaction with them, it just felt like old friends. There was mutual respect and you can sometimes give your friends a hard time about stuff. That's all that is. It's just love going back and forth around the room.

Now Christina did suggest to our team that we go and egg Adam's house. I don't know what that was about, but we didn't go ahead and do that. But truthfully, in all seriousness, yes the coaches gave each other a hard time. She gave Blake a hard time for sending the Duo home last season too early. When you're at that level like they are, I don't think there's any true animosity there. I think they're just giving each other a hard time because they're old friends and they've been working together for a long time.

Lindsay Steele:
Leland and Hailey, Christina and Adam kind of remind me of you two.

Hailey Pavao:
No way. I would never have someone egg Leland's house, unless I was doing it myself.

Leland Grant:
You did see me with my shirt off that one time and I saw the "Moves Like Jagger" video, so absolutely. I'll take that compliment all day long. Thank you, Lindsay. I appreciate that.

Lindsay Steele:
I don't know. I think it's just like they're like playing poker with us up there and they're like hiding. I think it's all in play. I don't think they have sexual intentions, I don't know. I think it wouldn't be as fun for everybody to watch.

Leland Grant:
I agree with you and exactly. They're playing poker and they have to say stuff that's poignant enough, so they have to kind of cut on each other because why else are we going to pick them? It's like politics.

Lindsay Steele:
Yes.

Leland Grant:Question:
Jamar, what were you thinking when it was taking so long for the judges to turn around during your performance?

Jamar Rogers:
I was freaking out. You have no idea. As a matter of fact, I remember having a little pep talk with myself because I knew that if I gave in to the nerves and I started like second guessing myself, the rest of the song would've just been awful. I would've been pitchy and horrible. Even if it no one turns around, I want to go out sounding good. I'm not going to lie, I had a knot in my stomach, but the minute I saw Cee Lo, man I almost lost it again. I had to really hold it together. Then as you see, I didn't hold it together too well. I was hopping all over the stage like a manic three year old.

Question:
Jamar, they were saying that even if they had turned around, you would've picked Cee Lo anyway because you're such a big fan. Did you feel that way going in like if you had a choice between all of them just because you were a fan or were you really unsure of what you would've picked if you got a choice?

Jamar Rogers:
Going in, it was going to be Cee Lo. I wasn't kissing Cee Lo's ass when I said to him, "He was the only reason I auditioned for the show." I went into it saying if I did nothing more than just shake his hand, then I will die a happy man. I think it kind of worked out that he was the only one that turned around because I think I might've hurt the other coach's feelings.

Question:
Hailey and Leland, there was that awkward moment when Cee Lo assumed you two were more than a musical couple and you told the nation you're not in the piece before and during the live thing. Does that matter do you think in pursuing your professional career that you're that kind of a couple or just a musical duo? How does that come into play in pursuing this?

Hailey Pavao:
I think it helps us out because it creates some sort of mystery and some intrigue for people. They want to know and it's kind of like whatever we say, they're not really going to believe anyway. They kind of think what they want to think and they speculate about it. I was reading all of the comments last night saying that we're a couple and we're together, and I can see where people think that.

We argue like brother and sister sometimes, but then there's times where after our audition, we were holding hands for most of the part where we're talking to the judges or the coaches. We're really close and we're really good friends and our music is based around that strong bond that we have, whatever it is.

Leland Grant:
Our music is a product of that. You can't have good music without something behind it and that something behind it is in any way, shape or form - it's passion.

Question:
Lindsay, one of the people last night they asked and she said she'd never performed for more than 40 people. Was that you?

Lindsay Steele:
Yes, yes.

Question:
The numbers came out today for NBC and there were 17 million people who watched last night. So what does it feel like to have not performed for more than 40 people and all of the sudden have performed to 17 million people?

Lindsay Steele:
That is insane. My brain is not smart enough to really wrap my head around that, so I can just kind of estimate. It's incredible. It's so cool that even though I know I'm not the most experienced or charismatic person that people are ever going to see perform, that they appreciate what I do. Again, it's like I never really asked for a stranger's opinion and now I had whatever odd number of strangers see it. I'm getting so much feedback and it's incredible.

It really feels like I'm starting a new section of my life, like my life as a professional musician and singer. It's what I've always dreamed of, but I've never really had the courage or a way to do it. It is - that's amazing. That's incredible. I'm really excited to improve and show people better work because my best stuff is definitely far ahead of me right now. So it's a work in progress. That's awesome.

Question:
What's up with Cee Lo's cat? Can you tell us a little bit about the cat?

Jamar Rogers:
Cee Lo can do no wrong. It's just part of Cee Lo's persona. Anything to make Cee Lo larger than life and you know that anything Cee Lo is selling, I'm buying. So I'm on board. You've got to check out the Perfect the cat's photo shoot. I literally walked by Perfect the cat taking pictures with bottles of champagne and I was instantly jealous.

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