As a fan of the tried and true standard, Griffin is a personal favorite on The Voice. Initially a member of Pharrell’s squad, Griffin is now being coached by Blake Shelton.
Last week’s battle round had Griffin and Luke Wade duking it out over “Maybe I’m Amazed,” and their two varying styles (Wade has a soulful voice while Griffin reaches for notes most singers can’t imagine) led to one of this season’s more memorable performances (Gwen Stefani described his voice as “butter”).
I spoke with Griffin, a Greenville, South Carolina native and current Nashville resident, about his journey on The Voice.
When did you know you had what it takes to pursue a career in music?
Music, for me, started at a really young age when I was first introduced to artists from the ’50s and ’60s like Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. We visited our grandparents every Christmas and my grandparents would get out all their old records and play them. I listened to so many of those different artists and sort of had this desire to be them one day.
I grew up in church. I started singing there and once I was old enough to realize that music is something I wanted to do, which was right around freshman year of high school, I started writing a lot of music and playing at different coffee shops and small little music venues in Greenville, South Carolina – which is where I’m originally from.
I always had this desire to move to Nashville, and about a year and a half ago I did that. I’ve been there ever since trying to pursue my dream.
What are some of your favorite standards and why?
That’s a good question. One of my favorite artists is Frank Sinatra. I love so many of his songs, so it’s hard to pick a specific one. But what I really enjoy from music back then is just the way – the genuineness of it. These were some of the most amazing singers – they had true talent and they really valued music.
When you listen to those records, you hear the some of those live bands and you get to hear the real horn sounds and the symphonies. So many different instruments were showcased on these songs.
I’ve really tried to dissect that music and incorporate that into the type of music that I endeavor to do now.
What are some of the lessons you’ve learned while at Nashville?
Living in Nashville has been the opportunity of a lifetime. I immediately got to work on writing tons of music, going to bars and music venues. And trying to connect and meet with people.
Nashville is a big city, but it has such a small city vibe and feel to it. I think it’s important for any artist to have a really good work ethic and to do a great job of connecting with people on a personal level and on an artistic level.
Just from the connections I’ve made on The Voice so far – they’ve been great and I’ve been able to become friends with some really cool artists.
Learning from Pharrell and now Blake Shelton must be a huge blessing.
It really is. I started on Team Pharrell and I have learned so much from him. Pharrell is one of those guys who is extremely genuine and humble. He had so much advice to give. I remember when my battle partner Luke and I were practicing (“Maybe I’m Amazed”), Pharrell came over and just started talking to us about being nervous before you go out on stage. (He was) just encouraging us to be in the moment as much as possible and soak in everything that these moments have to offer us. That’s something I’ve really taken to heart as I’ve progressed on the show.
And now being on Team Blake, I’ve learned so much from him as well. Blake is one of those guys who’s just very genuine and he’s had so much success on the show, as well as so much success as an artist. He just wants his artists to go out each week and to just give a genuine performance. He’s not into gimmicks and he’s not into trying to create an artist that isn’t true to themselves.
I’ve learned so many valuable lessons from them that I’m going to be able to take with me past the show.
Regarding taking things past the show, how gratifying has it been to communicate with fans on the show?
It has been the best feeling in the world. The biggest reason for me doing music is because it’s my passion. It’s what I love to do. I grew up listening to so much different genres and one thing I love about music is when I’m listening to a song, I feel the song and I feel the emotion. That has been something that The Voice does really well at.
The artists that come on the show and give these really good performances and they feel the emotion of the song and it comes across to America.
Just having done the Battle Round portion of the show with Luke was such a great feeling. We just got great feedback from so many people. Our battle was showcased on the Today Show twice as well as on Fox News. So many people on Twitter have been commenting on how awesome the song was. It’s such a good feeling.
Where did you get that strength to perform on stage? Does part of that strength come from your family’s support?
Yes. I have so much support from my family and they’ve been there with me from the very beginning. But once I get on stage, it’s sort of like I become this new person or someone I’ve always wanted to be. I get on stage and this confidence takes over. I’m normally really, really nervous before I get on stage and sometimes I can be even pretty shy.
(But) once I get on the stage, it’s like something takes over and I just go into this whole different world. That to me is the most fun when it comes to performing songs.
Griffin, thank you for your time and good luck moving forward into the competition.
Thank you so much for your support. I appreciate it.
The Voice airs tonight on NBC at 8 pm et/pt.