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The Voice Interviewby Pattye Grippo    

This is an interview with contestants Javier Colon, Nakia, Tyler Robinson, and Beverly McClellan on May 9, 2011 about the show The Voice.

Javier Colon

Question:
Javier, you were one of the two contestants in that first round who was selected by all four judges. What made you select Adam as your coach?

Javier Colon:
I honestly would have been absolutely just ecstatic to have just one person turn around and then stay in the competition. But the fact that all four turned around was just it was awesome. I was very flattered. And the reason that I picked Adam was because going into it I being the way the competition is set up your coaches are the ones that keep you in the competition or they send you home for these first rounds.

I just wanted to if I was lucky enough to have my choice between a several judges or coaches I wanted to make sure that I picked somebody that I thought was enthusiastic and just really adamant about having me on their team. And Adam he was almost distracting me during the song because he was just so animated and so into the performance which really, really meant a lot to me and which is one of the main reasons that I chose him.

Question:
Tyler, you basically came out to your father on national TV before taking the stage. Did you warn him before the episode aired that he was going to be hearing that or was that his first time hearing the news when we all heard it?

Tyler Robinson:
I think that during the show was the first time he'd actually heard it out of my mouth. Because I don't have the best relationship like I said. And I haven't physically seen it my dad in about three years. And so when I was talking in my interview I didn't realize that I hadn't told my dad.

And that's why if you could see my tone it was almost like flippant just because I've been so out and so casual about it for these past two years that I didn't realize that there was still people in my life that didn't know. And so it was even a surprise for me. It was like oh I didn't realize that I didn't tell my dad all these years. And it was just one of those things that fell into place at the right time.

Question:
Javier, in your blog you said that you actually tried to cancel your voice audition. Can you tell me a little bit about that?

Javier Colon:
The Thursday before the auditions in New York basically I woke up and I was not feeling very well. I was doing a couple of college shows. I was actually in San Francisco. I woke up that morning and I almost had no voice. And I knew that the audition was on a Saturday. And I said you know what, I don't think I'm going to be able to make it and I don't think I'm going to sound good.

I probably just I don't want to go and make a fool of myself. So I'm just going to call my manager and ask him to see if there's any other day. But I'm probably I'm just going probably cancel it because I don't think I'm going to sound good. I talked to him on Thursday. I said you know what, you probably should cancel it. I'm not going to feel better by Saturday. And he said okay if that's how you feel then that's what I'll do. And then he tells me that he didn't forget but he forgot to call and cancel on Friday.

So then Saturday came and I was actually feeling a lot better than I thought I would. And I called him and I said hey, listen don't cancel that audition. And he said you know what? I completely forgot. And I said well great well then I'm just going to go. So I flew in to Hartford, Connecticut where I live. I flew to Connecticut and I drove to New York just in time for the audition.

Question:
Could you talk a little bit about what The Voice means and kind of what your plans are?

Javier Colon:
I have I've been doing music for a long time. I did have a record deal with Capitol Records at one point. We released a couple albums with them that unfortunately it didn't work out and I ended up getting dropped. And I spent five years' time to get a new record deal. Nobody wanted to sit down with me. Nobody wanted to talk to the guy who basically already had a record deal and it was unsuccessful.

So trying to get a new deal was as close to was proving to be really, really difficult. And at this point I was running around doing a lot of college shows, doing some club shows and things like that. But there was times where it was getting really tight to where you couldn't pay bills and you had to borrow. You had to kind of maneuver to figure out how things were going to work.

And when you have two kids that rely on you and obviously and your wife that rely and you too to bring home some solid income the music thing if I didn't change something soon then basically I was going to have to leave it behind because as a father I would have to do anything that is necessary to make sure that my kids are taken care of because they're first and foremost.

And this opportunity came along this actually a month after another rejection from another record label that I thought we were going to sign with and it didn't work out. And I'm very thankful for the opportunity because we'll see what happens but so far it's been great. And I'm hoping it means that I can continue to do music a little longer.

Question:
Beverly, can you talk about you have the distinct style that we've just seen a glimpse of so far? How open are you changing that as Christina kind of molds you and shapes your style

Beverly McClellan:
I just like to sing man. So what so whatever she throws at me I'll sing it pretty much.

Question:
Is there any real rivalry between the coaches?

Nakia:
I think with me in particular watching Cee Lo and Blake go head to head and try to convince me that I should be on their teams Blake definitely was playing dirty and by making comments about Cee Lo. And then at the end of the day it actually kind of cost him me being on his team because he spent more time talking about why what was wrong with Cee Lo as a person instead of why I should be on his team.

So for me I think as we got into the battle rounds the coaches seemed to be a lot more supportive of each of their choices. And the rivalry though seems to be a lot more heated because now the closer that we get they really, really want their team to win the show. So the further we go along I think you'll see that the rivalry is definitely heating up.

Question:
What scares you the most about this competitions?

Beverly McClellan:
Not being able to find Mountain Dew in LA. I'm just kidding, I'm kidding. It was a joke. It was a joke. It's all scary. It's But it's also a blessing too, you know? That's what I think. It's just my personal opinion.

Tyler Robinson:
Throughout this whole process I've just learned a lot about myself. And I've realized that we're all here to sing and we're here to do what we're good at. And that's perform and sing in front of a lot of people. And there's not enough time to worry about being scared. You just have to put yourself out there and hope that people take you in the way that you want them to.

Beverly McClellan:
Amen.

Javier Colon:
Yes I completely agree with that Tyler. In this situation where we've been given this opportunity. I definitely feel some fear at times right before you're about to go on stage, some nerves for sure. But if this is what we want to do for a living then this is the moment that we have to seize and step up to the plate and really show everybody what it is that we do because this is probably the best shot we're ever going to have at getting to having the opportunity to prove ourselves. And if this is what we want to do then there's no time to really be scared. You just got to know what the task at hand is and just go out and attack it and do it.

Beverly McClellan:
But there are still nerves definitely. We are not iron men and women. We're human and we feel those things for sure.

Question:
You're each getting trained or directed by your stars. Do you know how the other teams are working?

Nakia:
Not really no. I really only know what's going on with Team Cee Lo and how I'm interacting with Cee Lo and what direction I'm getting from Cee Lo. Or in the case of during the battle rounds you know, when he's brought in special guest Monica, that sort of thing, that's the interaction that I am dealing with. And to be quite honest it's really the only interaction or coaching that I think that I would want to have to deal with. I'm glad that I only have one coach and I don't want to worry about what's going on the other teams because I need to focus on what I'm getting directed to do and how that's going with me.

Javier Colon:
We don't spend a lot of time. You know, we spend a lot of time with each other but not necessarily we don't see each other with the other's coaches and things like that. We basically spend time with our own coach working on what we have to do. And I agree with Nakia, I mean I think it's better that way because honestly we're all kind of competing within our own teams until it gets to the final episode. So really the only people you're competing against at the moment are the people that are on your own teams.

And then at the end is when the four teams will have one representative to go for the title. So I think it's better that way because honestly I mean we can only basically control what it is that we're going to do. And that's to be the best that we can be in everything that we step on stage. So yes, I guess that's it.

Question:
Beverly, since everyone comes to the show with various levels of experience can you talk about what you feel you bring to the table that the others don't?

Beverly McClellan:
I'm old. No I'm just kidding. No I'm just I would say I'm older. I've been doing performing live and doing live shows for a little over ten years more than ten years here so and up and down the coast. Performing and knowing tons of songs that I've gotten tips thrown at me to know. I think performing live and doing things like that is what I've done most. So that salted with a little bit of age I mean that's what I bring. And my own style.

Question:
Nakia, you're one of the few people that selected a song to sing that was one of the judge's own song. What was your strategy going into it selecting a Cee Lo song?

Nakia:I still needed the opportunity to connect with America in that one moment. So yes I knew choosing it was a risk because Cee Lo was in the audience. But having Cee Lo turnaround, I mean that in itself was hugely validating for me as an artist for him to say you know what you sang my song and that I think that you did a great job and I think I could do something more with you. So to me it was not only a risk but at the same time it was also a chance for me to connect with the viewing public at home.

Question:Tyler Robinson:
Blake really taught me something that I found really special. And he taught me to really I don't have to risk every time I get the opportunity to. He made me aware of it is what it was. He told me you don't always have to risk when you have the opportunity to. And it really made me take a step back and look at what I was doing before I sang. And so I just was a little bit of editing. I took it from one level to the next level just by doing one little thing.

Question:
Beverly, how has Christina been as a judge for you and what have you learned from her?

Beverly McClellan:
Well now my coach I've been learning from since she was a young child, started way before this competition. She has been singing it dirty for quite some time. And I'm just honored to be on her team and singing it dirty for her now. So you know that feels good. That feels great. And she just more than anything she encourages me to bring it. So and also gives me advice on how to do that. She is awesome. That's all I can say. They all are but I'm so excited to be on Team Christina for sure.

Question:
Tyler, now that the blind auditions are over how much does look or image factor into the challenge that you have to take into consideration now?

Tyler Robinson:
It's a whole different game with the battle round now. Now that everyone can see you is still about the voice definitely but it's about performance quality, it's about your look, it's about everything now. It just went from one part of the competition to the next part. And we just took it up a few levels. And it's so exciting to see where this will take people in many different directions. Because me personally I mean in my battle round you'll see my outfit change a little bit but still a lot of myself. And the performance quality just has to be really high because that's how you're going to win something like this.

Question:
Javier, what do you think you need to do to raise your game in competition as compared to the blind audition?

Javier Colon:
I think honestly you have to have your game at a raised level basically at all times on this show For the blind audition you had to go and give it your absolute 100%. And you also have to do the same in the battle rounds. If you basically don't give your 100% in either portion you could be going home.

So whether it's competition or not I know it's a lot's being said about the battle rounds and how you're going against another person and it's definitely a nerve-racking thing for sure. But the only thing that you can control is what you do on that stage and not necessarily what the other person is going to do on that stage. So you just have to really go out there and make sure that when you walk off the stage you feel you feel good knowing that you gave your 100% and that you did everything that you could to do the best that you could. And that's really all that you can do.

Question:
What's it been like to live in Hollywood these days, living out your dream leaving your house and coming all the way out here just to with your dream?

Nakia:
It is really very surreal. So it is very much like a dream. For those of us who've never done anything like this before being surrounded by camera crews and celebrity coaches who are not just there for a paycheck but are really invested in us as artists and really making an effort to connect with us and mentor us and help shape us into what they hope to be superstars is very surreal. But at the same time it is a huge blessing and it's very gratifying for me as an artist for someone who's been doing this for so long struggling to try to make it to have that validation that I've been chosen and that I'm on team Cee Lo and I have the opportunity to do this.

Question:
Beverly, I heard that each of your many tattoos has sort of a really important meaning. And I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit about them?

Beverly McClellan:
Oh they're all little journeys that I've taken. And I plan to take many, many more journeys. I love tattoos. I'm highly allergic to the sun so this is my sun. This is my color. So I just pick things that mean the most to me. You know, I have some of my Indian heritage tattooed on me as well, a microphone because I love to sing, my guitar. They're all personal journeys.

Question:
Can we expect you to add another one for The Voice?

Beverly McClellan:
Absolutely.

Question:
The Voice obviously is structured very differently from a lot of other competitions like American Idol. What is it like for you guys to have to compete against other more directly, like you're pitted against each other within your own team?

Nakia:
I think that one of the main things that I'm taking away from this experience is the cherished and treasured friendships that I've made with the other artists on the show. And I think I can speak for everybody when I say that without exception that all of us have a deep love for each other and that we really and truly came out of the blind auditions with some serious friendships.

Even the people that went home we had bonded with. So that was very tough. But when you get to see the battle round, I mean I think that it becomes a lot more tough for us to watch each other go through that process because we have formed those relationships and we have bonded so much. And it definitely becomes harder because you don't want to see someone go home. But at the same time you want to do well and you want to succeed. So you have to put that aside for that time while you're performing and really turn on your game.

Javier Colon:
It makes it difficult like Nakia said because you make some really strong relationships through strong friendships just being on the show. It makes it hard when you have to go into a battle round knowing that one of you is going to advance and one of you is going to go home. It's a very difficult situation.

But it leaves room after the battle round obviously it goes to live shows where it does get to that point where basically America will be will be choosing a who they like and so forth. So I think it's kind of the best of both worlds. It's really exciting TV to watch for sure. I mean the tension is high and the emotions are just running rampant. So it's going to be exciting to watch for sure.

Question:
Tyler, is it difficult to compete against someone that you have a friendship with and have to sort of knock them out of the game?

Tyler Robinson:
Absolutely. It was definitely something that was hard to do. Just because we did become such good friends. We were stuck in a hotel with these people for five weeks and we're sort of forced to become friends with them. And it was all good. And then you get put up against someone and you just have to put your differences aside and be like you know what? This is a competition. And in the end we're all there for one thing. And you both sing your heart out and it's crazy to see how a lot of these battles go down. It's very exciting. And I think the format is wonderful and so exciting and new. And I think it's just a great idea.

Question:
Beverly, were you aware of this format before you signed up to do the show?

Beverly McClellan:
Well it sounded like a pretty easy idea from home. And then you get there and you meet all of these wonderful artists and now artist/friends. And we are all there at the end of the day for the same thing. And our friendships are lifelong regardless of what the outcome of whatever happens on stage. Because that's just business and something that neither one of us as contestants or any of us can it is a hard thing. But like you said you make really good friends and you've met some wonderful artists. And it's a hard thing to do yes. That's the reality of the show not versus any other but I'm just saying as far as me personally living it is I have a newfound respect for reality TV.

Question:
Javier, about your arrangement of Time after Time - was that your particular arrangement or did you just borrow it from bits and pieces of other arrangements that you had heard because it really stood out?

Javier Colon:
It definitely was an arrangement that I had been doing in my shows and things like that probably for the last year or so. And I definitely had heard other artists cover that song. There's a great version that Sarah McLachlan does with Cyndi Lauper as a duet which I heard that really really spoke to me. It's very acoustic like I do it.

Also there's a wonderful artist named Eva Cassidy who also covered that song that you just also a great rendition of it. I mean I definitely try to put my own spin on it in the way that I sing it. And the way that I play the chords and stuff is sometimes a little different. But I mean everything that I do for the most part or at least what I've been doing for the last five years or so has been very acoustic soul I guess is what I call it. And I just kind of put a little bit of how I sing into just what I think is just a classic, classic, classic song that is just an amazing song.

Question:
Javier, in the blind addition you guys chose songs from a list although as you say you were able to do your own arrangement. In the battle round do you guys have any influence on what song is selected and how are they arranged or is your coach is Adam saying you're singing this and I suggest you try it this way and how is that going to work?

Javier Colon:
In the battle rounds basically you are told who you're battling against. And you also are also told the song that you're singing. We don't have any choice or any say in the selection process of the song. The coaches so basically they look for a song that will suit both artists and they just try to find something that will work great for both artists to be able to shine. And as far as the arrangement goes they also as part of what they do as coaches is just trying to come up with an arrangement that sounds great that you both can really stretch and do what it is that you do on.

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