Update: 9:30 p.m. Tuesday
It’s been a good week for North Texans on The Voice. Monday night saw both Luke Wade (Fort Worth) and Craig Wayne Boyd (formerly of Mesquite) sing their way to the next round. And in the competition’s second battle round episode on Tuesday, Taylor Phelan of Sherman continued the streak. Coach Pharrell Williams paired Phelan against teammate Jordy Searcy of Alabama, having them perform Breakeven by The Script. Quote of the night came during this rehearsal, when Pharrell and his guest adviser, Alicia Keys, werecoaching Phelan on how to hit certain notes. Said Keys: “Push your belly out, like if you’re gonna go take a poop.” We’re not sure if Phelan took that note to heart (perhaps he’ll let us know?), but after the performance, two other coaches gave the win to Phelan: Adam Levine said his stage presence gave him the edge. And, said Blake Shelton: “There’s something about the way Taylor attacks the vocal when he’s singing. I’d pick Taylor.” Pharrell agreed, and elected to advance Phelan. Both he and Luke Wade remain on Team Pharrell, leaving open the agonizing possibility of a DFW face-off between the two. The battles continue next week, with performances from two North Texas females, Reagan James of Burleson and Kelli Douglas of DeSoto. We’ll keep you posted.
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This week’s episodes of The Voice kicks off the second phase of the competition, known as the “battle rounds,” where vocalists are pitted against one another in an effort to move ahead to the next round of competition.
A gob-smacking total of five North Texas artists are still competing on The Voice: Luke Wade, Taylor Phelan, Reagan James, Kelli Douglas and Craig Wayne Boyd. (Douglas and Boyd were unavailable for interviews, but look look for a story on Reagan James later this week on DFW.com.)
We recently tracked down Wade and Phelan for a joint chat just outside the Scat Jazz Lounge in downtown Fort Worth. We’ll present those conversations separately (here’s a link to Wade’s Q&A), along with a brief video showcasing each musician in action.
Sherman-based singer-songwriter Taylor Phelan just moved back to Texas last year from a stint living in Chicago with his wife and infant daughter, so while he isn’t deeply involved in the DFW music scene, he’s enjoyed a lengthy career making music. (Phelan was a member of the Canes in Chicago) His first battle-round performance on Team Pharrell is set to air Tuesday.
What was the audition process like?
You work so long on it to where, for me, I’ve always had a little bit of stage fright, it manifests itself differently now that I’ve learned how to train it. I know how to hone it and turn that nervousness into energy. This is a really unique situation. You work so long on this tiny little cut — I’ve never gotten an entire month to prepare for an entire show, let alone 90 seconds. It becomes muscle memory — I did have this overwhelming rush of nerves, [but] I knew what to do, you just go through the motions and deal with the consequences.
Being on the inside of a show like The Voice, what do you feel like the value of this show is?
I think this is better training and in such a condensed amount of time, I don’t know where else you would receive something like this, where you’re thrown into a situation and have to be better than you’ve been before. I can’t think of another situation where that would be the case. The amount I’ve improved — being behind the scenes, I feel like I’ve always had an innate sense of how a production like this is built, or how an artist becomes one of ‘those people’ who can perform and excel in that sort of environment. I think that, for me, it’s kind of affirmed and confirmed a lot of the ideas I had about growth and how to grow. Being a part of it confirms how I thought it would go.
What has the reaction been like?
I’m from Sherman, which is a lot smaller town. It’s been really awesome to see a rallying of hometown support, and even towns surrounding there have been supportive and it’s been great. There’s been a few awkward situations with people ... that’s the thing that’s been really interesting and great for me. A few years ago, I’d been playing regularly for years at that time, and I had a pretty consistent, current following. But since my daughter was born in the last year and a half, I haven’t been as active. It’s been really awesome to see all these people gathering back together, the support growing again. Honestly, it’s almost like they forgot I ever stopped doing it, which is really encouraging to me.
What were your expectations going in?
I went into it open-minded. I didn’t have too many expectations and I tried to prepare for it that way. Being on a show like this, there’s not very many shows like this. A lot of the reality shows like this, we all know their reputation. I was a fan of the show before being on it; I’d watched a few seasons. I’d wanted it to be different than some of the other ones. I went into with no expectations, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised. It’s a great crew, the producers are awesome, everyone involved has been very gracious and supportive. ... [Luke and I are] friends — we’re actually really good friends, not just show friends. I have these new friends all across the country — really great people, really great artists, all on the same path to better ourselves. I didn’t expect to meet people I’d genuinely like. That’s probably a big part of something I didn’t expect. All these people are “against each other,” but we’re hanging out and cheering each other on.
What did you think of Luke Wade’s audition?
Luke is intimidatingly professional at what you do. The way he approaches music, you’re like ‘Oh, right!’ His level of experience — personally, I think his performance is exactly that, you watch and think “This is 100 percent professional.” He’s not in the same category as a lot of people on the show. I think that [experience] transfers when you watch it: “That’s how you do it.” I felt that when I watched it.
Update: Video of the battle between Taylor Phelan and Jordy Searcy.