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The Voice Interviewby Pattye Grippo    

This is an interview with contestants Frenchie Davis, Jeff Jenkins, Kelsey Rey and Patrick Thomas on May 3, 2011 about the show The Voice.

Frenchie Davis

Question:
Frenchie, you've been through all of this before having been on another show. How has this whole experience been different for you this time?

Frenchie Davis:
Well because I wasn't allowed to compete on Idol I don't really have a full breadth of experience to fully compare the two shows. I mean, I did audition for Idol and, yes, I did sing with Kim Locke during Hollywood Week but I never got to the point where I was performing for a studio audience or any of that.

The differences that I can point out between the shows is that number one, it's a serious competition. All of the artists auditioning for it are serious about it; they are good singers, everybody can sing. There are no bad people who are cast on purpose so that we can sit at home and watch our televisions and laugh at them. Everybody's genuinely wanting this; everybody's an artist; everybody can sing including the judging panel.

And that's another difference as well it's not just a panel of judges telling you suck, you suck and this is why it's a panel of coaches who are saying this is where I think you can grow as a singer and this is how I think I can help you do that. And I think those are major differences that I can say are between the two shows.

Question:
Have you bonded with Christina and how has your experience been so far and her team?

Frenchie Davis:
I've been having a wonderful experience being on her team. You know, what's been most pleasantly surprising about being on Christina's team is that she's very insightful and she's really kind of smart. And I love that the advice and even critiques that she gives it's really coming from of place of it's not like from someone who doesn't know anything about this she's a singer and she's really insightful; I think that's the best word I can use to describe how she's been as a coach, insightful and kind of kind of a momma bear a little. And I've been loving it; it's been a wonderful experience. I'm learning from her and working with her.

Question:
How challenging was it to overcome what happened with Idol, to forget ahead with a career and still be singing today?

Frenchie Davis:
It certainly was not easy. But I choose to focus on the positive and the positive is that I've been able to make a living doing what I love. And Broadway was a wonderful blessing and that was hard work; there was eight shows a week. And but that's been my life up until now. And and all I can say is that I'm thankful that I've had this time to just grow as a performer and grow as a singer. And it was difficult but I just choose to focus on all of the good that came out of it.

Question:
Jeff, you were one of the two people that were selected by all four judges. What made you select Adam as your coach and how has it been working with Adam Levine?

Jeff Jenkins:
A big thing that my mom always taught me was to follow your gut and the things that you do. When listening to all of the coaches talk to me and say why I should be on their team he really stood out. He spoke after every other coach spoke and said that he could take me to that next level. And that's what The Voice is about is going to that next level. And I'm really happy with my decision. He's an awesome coach. He really, really knows exactly what he's talking about. He pinpoints all your problem areas and knows how to tell you how to fix those. And he's really cool. And he adds a new side to what I know about the music.

Question:
Frenchie, do you see this as your last shot for a recording career?

Frenchie Davis:
I don't see anything as a last shot. I'm sure that some people saw Idol as my last shot and clearly it was not. I believe that it's never your last shot as long as you are willing to continue working and continue pushing forward. What this shows was about for me is it's not even about necessarily winning; I feel like we've all won by being on the show.

For me it's about when I did leave Idol most people remembered me from Idol because of the scandal surrounding my leaving the show. If I couldn't sing then maybe I could live with that. And so what this show represents for me is a chance to reintroduce my talent to the world because they didn't get to see it in the two minutes of air time that I was on Idol. So it's a chance to reintroduce the full extent of my talent to the world. And this time win or lose I walk away being remembered for my talent and nothing else.

Question:
Jeff, as somebody who maybe has a little bit less experience than somebody like Frenchie or some of the other artists, how did you find out about the show?

Jeff Jenkins:
I go to school in Nashville at Belmont University and a lot of my friends sing and perform. And so I wasn't performing out, I was just focusing on school. And a friend of mine told me to check out this new show on NBC. So I checked it out and there was one audition left and that was in Seattle. So I made the decision to fly to Seattle and I went by myself and went to the open casting call and went through that audition process.

Question:
Frenchie, what Broadway shows would you like to sing in other than Rent of course?

Frenchie Davis:
If I got to sing a Broadway song it would more than likely be I am Changing from Dreamgirls or Home from The Wiz.

Question:
Jeff, you talked about how much of an inspiration your mother was to you on the show and how much you wish she could have heard you sing. If you don't mind talking about this could you talk a little bit about your mother and how she happened to pass away?

Jeff Jenkins:
My mom was always my inspiration and she still is my inspiration. You know, going into this I remembered all the things that my mom taught me about singing and about performing and really pushing for my goals. And I thought oh wow I don't have that anymore but then I quickly realized that all those things that she taught me remained inside of me. And I'm really thankful for that. She actually passed away of colon cancer which she fought for years and years. And many people didn't even know that she was as sick as she was because she was such a fighter and didn't let on to people that she was that sick. But I'm thankful for the time that I had with her and it's a blessing to be able to say that she was my mom. And, yes, I know she's right there with me when I'm performing every time now.

Question:
What type of music do you see yourself singing and what kind of artist would you like to become down the road?

Jeff Jenkins:
I definitely want to remain in my roots of country music. But I've always sang more of the Rascal Flats pop country type stuff that could cross over. And I really think that Adam can really help me along with that side of the country or of the music industry.

Question:
Kelsey, tell me about your YouTube video and how that came about and what sort of fame you got from it.

Kelsey Rey:
Well it was kind of a random idea why I did the YouTube video. My producers at the time they own the rights to the song. And they kind of just wanted to do a video just to see how many hits it would get. And I'm based out of Miami so the club scene is huge down here. And so they made the song a club song and they made a video just to see how many hits. And within like four days it ended up getting 1 million views which was kind of surprising because, I mean, it happened so quickly. So - but it was really just to get me out there.

Question:
We've seen the competition among the judges. Will we get a chance to see you compete? Are you guys placed in a house together? And will we see any of that on the show?

Frenchie Davis:
We don't know if we're going to placed in a house together yet. We don't know that part so far. At first you'll see us competing with other members of our own teams before we get to compete with members of other teams.

Question:
Jeff, how has it been adjusting to all the changes that come from being on the show?

Jeff Jenkins:
The changes are crazy. I go to school also in Nashville so that has kind of been a middle ground from Jones Creek to LA. But even from Nashville to LA the changes are insane. You know, it is city, city, city. But my family and I traveled a lot and even though we would come home to our quaint little village of Jones Creek I was able to kind of see around and that kind of got me ready for the big city.

Question:
Patrick and Jeff, you seem like the amateurs of the competition. Do you feel that it's unfair or that some of the other contestants that have had professional experience have an unfair advantage over you like Javier or Frenchie?

Patrick Thomas:
I think I could kind of speak for both of us saying that although we haven't had a record deal and we may have not signed a bunch of contracts and had performing experience such as Frenchie or Javier we still have been doing this for a long time whether on an amateur level or not. And we have been working at our craft everybody on this show is indeed an artist. We don't just sing a cover of a song; we've been working on developing a unique sound, a unique style, becoming our own very unique and individual artist. And so we're although we may have not done all the we don't have the impressive resume like a lot of the other artists on this show I think we're both still very confident that we know we who we are and we know what we can accomplish. I don't know, Jeff, you have anything to add to that.

Jeff Jenkins:Question:
Frenchie, you mentioned that you guys are not at the point in the competition where you can choose your own songs. Do you feel like it affects your performances at all? Like how does that work?

Frenchie Davis:
We are given a list of songs to choose from. And I know a lot of my fans were disappointed with the I Kissed a Girl, they wanted me to go out there and belt out Aretha or Whitney. But I do want to add that the singer who sang an Aretha song no one turned around for her. But we were given a list of songs and I Kissed a Girl was the song that was left that hadn't already been selected for another girl that would be auditioning. I do think song choice plays a role which is why I'm hoping that we'll get to choose our own songs soon.

Patrick Thomas:
We do have input obviously although the producers are exercising some control obviously with the list we do have some input. But you've got to remember that as this is a talent competition it is also a TV show and if everybody were singing some big Aretha ballad in the same round that comes off a little bit weird on TV. You want to have variety. And I do think they have our best interests in mind.

I know Frenchie was a little bit surprised by her song choice and then she walked out and just killed it and nobody would've expected Frenchie to sing that song and so it almost worked for her that now she still has that Aretha ballad waiting in the wings that she can pop out the next round and blow people away with. And they also know that she can go out there and perform a dance. So in a way it's kind of been they've been our allies in this even though we don't have complete control.

Frenchie Davis:
Yes Patrick. That's why I love you.

Question:
Frenchie, the judges made you work before one of them turned around. What was going through your mind while you were waiting for one of them to swivel around?

Frenchie Davis:
I came into this expecting to have to work. I don't feel entitled to any of this. So I'm totally okay with having to have had to work for it. And what was going through my brain - I think you can see from my reaction when Christina did turn around I was genuinely excited and happy and honored that I mean, a lot of singers auditioned for this and each coach could only pick eight. So I was just up there like please god let someone turn around. And the fact that it was Christina was like a double yes.

Question:
Was there a moment of internal freak-out at all while you were singing?

Frenchie Davis:
No I couldn't let myself go there because at the end of the day whether someone turned around or not there was still an audience there that I felt like I needed to give a good performance to. Because there were some singers who nobody turned around for and I disagreed with the judges and I'm sure that there will be people in the viewing audience who will disagree with some of the people who coaches decide not to turn around for because everybody was really good; everybody could sing. You never know what will happen for some of the singers who were great but none of the coaches turned around for them. So I feel like I couldn't allow myself to freak out too much because I had to focus on still giving a good performance for the audience. And thank God Christina saved me.

Question:
Were you surprised by how you were portrayed on the show?

Kelsey Rey:
Some people definitely I think portrayed me in the wrong way because I have been getting some comments negative comments saying that I might be too cocky or conceited. And just like I'm pretty sure the three people that are on this call right now would agree with me that it's I they knew me they know that that's not the truth.

Frenchie Davis:
Kelsey was my roommate during this process when we were staying at the hotel. And the people who think that she's cocky couldn't be more wrong. She is a sweet, sweet girl; that is my little sister. I've adopted her. She's fantastic. I feel like sometimes I think that there may be a little bit of validity to the point that Kelsey was trying to make; I mean, we assume that because let's face it, the industry is full of beautiful girls who may not necessary be great singers.

And Kelsey is a gorgeous girl and people probably do look at her and assume that's what she is and that she doesn't have any musical talent. So I think that she's an excellent example of how this show works in the reverse. Like she's not just a pretty face; she has a heart of gold and she's a smart girl and she's talented. And I don't think that there was anything wrong with her acknowledging that.

Kelsey Rey:
It's hard because that was one thing I didn't want to be portrayed as. And it think that a lot of people saw it like that just because at the end I did say I have been looked at as the pretty face who can sing. And for once in my life I'm actually I'm showed as a singer and it's a great thing and it's an amazing accomplishment for me. And I'm really proud of myself in that sense. And I wish people could see that. But not everybody is going to like you.

Question:
Jeff and Patrick, do you guys feel that you're in direct competition with each other more so than the others given your country styles?

Jeff Jenkins:
I really don't think so. I think though we both are country singers we're different singers. And so whether or not we will in the end be competing for ratings on the radio if it is a competition it's a friendly competition. But I think we're different enough to where people like us for our own instead of wanting that competition between us.

Patrick Thomas:
Yes I think Jeff hit really the nail on the head is that although in essence this really is a competition for everybody regardless of whether we're competing this round or if we're competing hopefully down the line because we are competing for ratings and we are competing in essence for a rank in iTunes. But that said I'm sitting there cheering Jeff on when he's at Number 30 or whatever he was out on the country charts. I'm sitting there cheering him on at Number 30 as I'm happy with my Number 50 whatever. You know, I'm not bitter about any of that because Jeff is my good friend.

Jeff Jenkins:
Feel the same, yes.

Patrick Thomas:
And I respect Jeff's talent. I know that everyone when we watched Javier for example, when we watched his single go up to whatever it was, Number 18 on the overall chart, I can speak for everybody saying that we were all so genuinely happy for him.

Question:
You mentioned Javier and your mutual respect that you have for one another. A lot of people in the blogosphere are saying that Javier is a favorite to win the whole thing right now.

Frenchie Davis:
He should be. He's amazing.

Question:
If each of you could choose one person that you think has the potential to go all the way, not including yourselves, who would you pick?

Frenchie Davis:
Javier, Jeff, Beverly.

Jeff Jenkins:
I don't know if that'd even a fair question. I would be listing everyone in the competition.

Frenchie Davis:
I say Javier, Jeff, Beverly, Patrick, everybody. It's really one of those things where you just don't know because everybody's good. You'll see this coming up when the battleground episodes air, I mean, there were moments where the judges got emotional because they just how to you choose between two amazing singers?

Patrick Thomas:
And it's apples and oranges sometimes because there is so much talent. And, like I said, these people are artists; these are not - they don't just imitate what they hear on the radio. Everybody on this show is so musically talented and they have such a unique style that it really does become apples and oranges. How can you compare the R&B singer with the country singer? How can you, you know that's very, very difficult to do.

Frenchie Davis:
And what's been so special for me during this process is that while I am in competition with these people I'm rooting for them at the same time. It's like I'm simultaneously competing against and rooting for these people because it's like everyone has been, I mean, we've been become like a little family. And everybody's so talented. And it's just like everyone deserves it because they're so good. And they're good hearted, and it's like you root for good people. And I think that's been the highlight of my experience so far is just the wonderful friendships that I've made and just being able to share a stage, share a living space just share this experience with so many wonderfully talented people who have hearts of gold.

Kelsey Rey:
I agree completely. Well done, well done.

Question:
Frenchie, it's been about eight years since you left American Idol. What got you through the ups and the downs what in your personal life or in your personal upbringing got you through those tough times?

Frenchie Davis:
I've learned that I'm a lot stronger than I gave myself credit for. And I have just used this time to grow. You know, what's gotten me through the tough times I would have to say faith and just I am one of those people that I truly believe that there's good out there. I believe that there's good out there for all of us; you just have to go out there and grab it.

And there was a part of my life when I had allowed what happened with me on Idol to kind of scare the hell out of me. And there was a part of me that had been afraid to really take a chance and take a - you know, Broadway was safe for me. You know, but there was a part of me that was afraid to take that leap of faith, take that chance and really put myself out there again.

And I'm telling you ending up on the cover of the National Enquirer for being fat is the best thing that could have ever happened to me because it made me have an epiphany that being afraid of putting myself out there isn't protecting me from the scrutiny. So I might as well go balls to the wall for my dream because they're going to come for me anyway. Because they're going to come for me anyway.

Question:
Do you keep in touch with any of the other American Idols from Season 2?

Frenchie Davis:
I do. And it was so amazing watching Reuben Stoddard and Kimberly Locke tweeting the other night rooting for me. And Rueben is like my brother Kimberly and I we still perform together every now and then because we both have a huge following in the gay community and the gay boys will revolt if we don't sing together.

And I'm still friends with Trenise and Clay has been an amazing support. He's come to see me in almost every Broadway show I've been in. And I went to go see him when he was in Spamalot in Broadway. What's been the highlight of this experience has been the wonderful friendships that I've built because I made lifelong friends when I did Idol and I was only on Idol for like two minutes.

Question:
Kelsey, if you should down the road make your own record what type of music do you think is your particular style and what type of record would you like to make?

Kelsey Rey:
I do love pop music and I do think that I fit in with the pop genre. But I like pop with flair, like I like soul music and I like blues. Like I really like to sing from the heart. And I like big band stuff. I would like to eventually someday have a band behind me. And I would love to have an all-girl band which is kind of crazy but I think that would be really cool. I really like big band stuff. And I think that's another reason why I chose Cee Lo.

Question:
Patrick, what are some of the artists that you grew up with that have been an influence on your career?

Patrick Thomas:
Country was kind of a recent thing for me. I didn't really start singing country until I was about 16. For me I was listening in middle school I was listening to Josh Groban. And when I was singing even at a younger age, at 8, 9, 10, it was Robert Goulet, it was Broadway artists, it was Bing Crosby. I was singing Would you Like Sing on Star. And so I've had a very wide array of influences. My parents were both Broadway performers so I had that background always. But country was the most commercial for me and I learned to love it; I needed a place to play at 16 and my dad suggested country.

And at first I hated it but I started watching CNP television every morning and I fell in love with Amazed by Lonestar; I fell in love with Clay Walker with Blake Shelton. And it became the only thing I listened to on the radio. I still have a lot of different genres that I love but country is not definitely how I identify myself.

Question:
Kelsey, I found it interesting that you chose Cee Lo over Christina Aguilera. Did it have anything to do with it being that Cee Lo may be able to give you more on the producing and the marketing side than Christina might be able to?

Kelsey Rey:
Yes I think that when I was choosing I was kind of thinking as a business woman. I love Christina. I grew up listening to Christina. She is one of my idols. And same with Adam Levine; I love Adam Levine. But I know like what Cee Lo really likes and the songs that he sings and his music nowadays, I mean, I love his music. And I love his style. I think he has a very unique voice. And he is also a producer. And just the way that he spoke and the way that he said you sang this song and your clarity was amazing and all the compliments he was giving I could tell that he was truly passionate to work with me. So I definitely I was thinking about choosing Christina I have to say; I was like going back and forth. But I knew that Cee Lo could do something wonderful with my voice so I ended up choosing him.

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