It’s always a pleasure to interview The Voicecontestants, and Matt McAndrew has been one of my favorite artists to chat with this season (along with DaNica Shirey and Reagan James).
Along with a steady and growing fan base, McAndrew is a lock to go even deeper into the competition, and one of the huge reasons for his success lies in his penchant for risk taking. His decision to take on the classic Beach Boys tune “God Only Knows” was straight up ballsy, especially since misfiring on the deceptively complex melody would have been understandable. Brian Wilson and crew crafted one of music’s most revered and ambitious works with Pet Sounds, and tackling any of those tracks is a tall order.
McAndrew dramatically ramped up his performance with last night’s show stopping and spirited rendition of Dozier’s “Take Me To Church.” A couple of weeks ago, McAndrew mentioned that “Drops of Jupiter” was his all time favorite performance on stage, but “Take Me To Church” literally brought the artist to his knees. Check out the performance below:
As of this early morning posting, Matt McAndrew’s studio version of Take Me To Church is #7 on iTunes, with Craig Wayne Boyd’s “You Look So Good In Love” taking the #14 spot. Overall, it was another great installment on The Voice (DaNica Shirey’s R&B take on “Creep” and Taylor John Williams’ performance of “If” were personal favorites), with McAndrew delivering the night’s best moment. Taylor John Williams definitely earned some points, however, for bringing a little Bread into the the proceedings.
So my tops were McAndrew, Shirey, and Williams. What were your favorites from last night’s The Voice Live Playoffs. Feel free to comment below!
The Voice results air tonight on NBC (8 pm et/pt).
DaNica Shireytook a several year break from the music business after her father’s passing, but now the powerhouse singer has returned to her passion thanks to her successful run onThe Voice. Whether it’s her Battle Rounds performance of “Halo” or taking on Whitney Houston’s “Saving All My Love For You” during the Knockouts, Shirey has performed with a ton of confidence and inspiration (not to mention talent).
During our interview, Shirey talked about her feelings going into the Live Playoffs (she’s being coached by Pharrell), elaborated on her love for R&B/soul music, and explained why Bob Marley’s uplifting “Three Little Birds” is high on her personal music rotation.
Why “Saving All My Love For You” during Knockouts? Tacking Whitney Houston is a mighty order!
I really have been highly influenced by Whitney. It’s been one of those kind of things for me. I was little when I had my very first karaoke machine. My dad got it for me when I was 8.
I ended up having some instrumental, mixed CDs and I first learned a Whitney Houston song when I was 10. I sang it at the Apollo Theatre when I was 15. So she’s always been a big part of my life and she is kind of one of those untouchables and people don’t like (singers) doing her (songs). So I guess that kind of makes me want to do it (laughs).
I don’t feel like I could have been the same singer without her. I wanted to represent a little where I come from, you know (laughs)?
With Live Playoffs upon us, how much work goes into the process?
Knowing that we’re going into Lives, I’m super nervous and I’ve never done live TV before so I’m a little scared. I’m really excited. It’s not just up to my coach to save me – this is up to America now. So it’s kind of scary. I don’t know what America is going to want, and I may not be that person that they want to hear. But I can’t wait – and I’m finally getting recognized!
I walked down the street with Luke Wade and there was a lady who walked up and said, “Hi, I think you’re great!” And Luke says, “She’s on The Voice too.” And she said “I’m sorry, I don’t know who you are (laughs).”
I’ve noticed now with Battles and Knockouts airing, more people have recognized who I am and are coming up and saying hi to me. It’s really cool.
Luke was talking about how soul and R&B was a great way for him to directly connect with the audience. Do you feel the same way.
Yes, absolutely. For some reason, there’s just something different when I sing R&B music and soul. I feel it so much more. Everything that I sing – I feel it in my heart and I feel the emotions of the song. If I’m having an emotional day or I just don’t want to think about stuff, that would be my go-to music. I totally get why he said that. So true – it’s very true.
Do you have go-to singers or music that keeps you grounded and inspired time and time again?
I listen to a lot of Bob Marley too. He always makes me feel better. It’s just kind of the feel good music for me. That song “Three Little Birds” is a huge go-to. One of my girlfriends passed away in a car accident when I was 19 and I listened to that song every single day over and over again. My (friend) ended up buying me a sweatshirt with Bob Marley on it with the lyrics to that song because I listen to it so much.
Is it hard balancing your family life along with The Voice’s hectic schedule?
It’s hard. I do have to be away from my daughter, my fiance and my family. But at the end of the day, I just try and go with the flow as everything’s happening. I try not to think ahead because I might freak myself out a little bit. If I thought about the fact I would be out here for how long without seeing her, I would stress out.
But the cool thing is they provide travel to bring out your family and friends for each round that you do. She’s been able to come out and see me for the shows (but) she missed Knockouts because she was starting pre-school. She’ll be coming out for Lives.
I don’t find it that hard. I’m a stay at home mom. I think if I had work on top of this that would probably be a lot harder. For me, I’m very luck in the sense that I stay at home with her and I’m pretty good with my time (management) and juggling the two.
How does it feel to return to music with The Voice?
This has been my breakout moment again, because for a while there I hadn’t (done music). This has only encouraged me to keep chasing my dream. I know, coming out here, that this is not going to be just it for me. I definitely see my career going further and it’s all thanks to this opportunity. Obviously it’s going to give me more opportunities but just the experience and everything I’ve been learning so far from Pharrell song-wise that I didn’t know I could do before. I want to be able to continue to share that even after the competition.
I know I’m not going to stop and I’m not going to give up and I’ll use everything I’ve learned and put it into songwriting and all that good stuff (laughs)!
Thanks again for your time and good luck with the Live Playoffs.
DaNica Shirey has a set of pipes and vocal control that many singers would love to have, but as John Lennon once mused, life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans. Along with the joys and responsibilities that come with raising a four-year-old daughter, Shirey endured the loss of her father three years ago and temporarily put the brakes on her singing career.
But music has always been an integral part of the York County, Pennsylvania native. If you’ve seen her inspiring battle round performance of “Halo” last week with Toia Jones, you know that her vocal talent is equally matched with a fighting spirit. Both artists took it to the limit with “Halo,” and it’s great to see Jones get stolen by Adam Levine to remain in the competition.
During our interview, Shireyseemed immensely grateful for her journey on The Voice, as she talked about being coached by Pharrell and being continually inspired by her father and daughter.
Your battle round performance of “Halo” with Toia Jones was definitely memorable.
Oh my gosh, yeah. It was such a crazy performance. At the beginning we were still doubting ourselves as everyone saw. We were just so worried about it and we weren’t sure where we were going with it. We were kind of holding back a lot, but with the help of the amazing Pharrell Williams (laughs) – he got us to open up and just really believe in ourselves and truly get down to the core and the meaning of the song and just try to feel it and put our hearts into it.
It was something that was so heartfelt that after our performance when we finally let loose, we had that moment when we just broke down and started crying because it was incredible for us.
I love singing that song – that song always makes me think of my dad. It was just really emotional and I never imagined that I would be able to do the stuff that I did without the help of Pharrell, I don’t think I could have.
Being a mother and having your father as a continued inspiration for you, how great has it been to have both of them in your life? I’m sure that inspires you.
It does. My father has inspired me to just be a better parent. He just followed me and he was always right behind me when I wanted to sing.
I told him from day one, ‘Daddy I want to sing.’ He was just there – 100%. That always felt amazing. I guess in a sense I kind of took it for granted a little bit and I was just so lost when he passed away. I didn’t know what to do.
My dad was such a positive person and he looked at the brighter side to every day and everything. I try really hard to be like that – I strive to be like him and then all I want to do is to make my daughter proud of me the way I am so proud of my dad. I love that connection I have with my father and I definitely have that with my daughter already. I want her to know that she can follow her dreams too. Whatever she wants to do, I’m going to back her up. I want that same relationship.
With Pharrell, he’s a great producer and artist, but he’s also a compassionate person. Can you talk about your connection with Pharrell?
For one, we mentioned from day one that we are both Aries. I feel like we naturally have this bond. It’s funny, as I’ve said before, there is just this thing with Pharrell from the beginning. Even while the other coaches were talking, I could just feel his energy. I could feel that he was just passionate about me – the way that he looked at me was so genuine and he really, really wanted me on his team. We connected in that way right away.
Musically, he works with so many styles of music and so many different artists and I enjoy singing different styles of music. I would love to get the chance to work with musicians from different genres. Who’s a better person to get advice from than Pharrell? I trust his word and I know that his ear for music is just perfect. I feel confident with him.
How has the fan reaction been with your time on The Voice? I’m sure it means a lot to you.
Absolutely – it really does. I cry every single day reading really nice comments that people write to me. I have some friends that are friend of mine that are from the area here (note – Shirey mentioned the family’s last name, but my darn recorder couldn’t decipher the name). They’re the nicest group of people that I’ve ever met. One of the girls had tagged me on a picture in my Facebook and they had this framed picture back when I was 14 or 15. I had a bunch of newspaper articles and they had all these cut outs framed on their wall. She tagged me in the picture and said that her parents had not taken that picture down. That was 10 years ago.
There was a girl that wrote me and said I inspired her to do music again because she kind of stopped after she had a child. She said, ‘you’ve inspired me to do it again that I already called the recording studio to start recording new songs.’
That’s why I’m doing this. I want to inspire people and uplift them with music the way it has done for me.
Being part of “The Voice” family must also be a wonderful part of your journey. Plus, maybe you’re able to experience your success in a different way these days.
I have developed a second family from this entire experience. Everybody has stayed in contact with one another even if they didn’t get a chair turn from the beginning. All of us have been so close, and it’s very interesting to see the people who you get close with.
I do feel that maybe it didn’t happen for me because it wasn’t my time ten years ago. I don’t know that I would have maybe appreciated or loved it this much. You really have to through some hard stuff in life. . . you kind of really have to fail to know the true feeling of succeeding.
It took me a long time to do it and I gave up on it for a while. Then I came back and with life experiences, I am so blessed and thankful that I am here now. I don’t think it could have worked out at a better time. I think it’s perfect timing.
You’re one of my favorites this season and I hope you make it deeper into the competition.