Sundance Head Interview: Winning ‘The Voice,’ Song Choices, and Coach Blake Shelton

Sundance Head and Kiss on The Voice
KISS with Sundance Head on ‘The Voice’ (Photo by Tyler Golden/NBC)

NBC’s The Voice crowned Sundance Head the season 11 winner on December 13, 2016, giving coach Blake Shelton yet another win. Head was the final Country artist left standing among the final four, and he credits much of his success on the show to his wife, coach Blake Shelton, and making the correct song choices. Sundance Head even had the chance to honor his father by performing his dad’s hit song, “Treat Her Right,” with Blake Shelton during the finale. And to cap off his time on The Voice, Head had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to perform with Kiss, something that meant the world to the Country artist and which he ranks as one of top five best experiences of his life.

Sundance Head won The Voice and then immediately set out on a publicity tour with interviews set up across the country. He also took the time to participate in a conference call in which he chatted about his experience on The Voice, his favorite memories of working with Blake, and which of the performances delivered by his fellow competitors blew him away.

Sundance Head Interview:

Were there any songs you would have liked to cover during the show that you didn’t get to do?

Sundance Head: “I wanted to cover ‘Georgia on My Mind’ and I had been asking if I could do it for about three weeks leading up to the finale. I was just never able to do it, but it’s one of my favorite songs of all time. I really wanted to have the opportunity to do it on the show.”

What’s the best piece of advice Blake Shelton gave you while you were on The Voice?

Sundance Head: “For me it was just to believe in my own abilities and my own talent and trust what got me on to the show to begin with. And to also, you know, take each song and try to connect with an audience and to try to connect with the lyric as much as possible when covering a song. I tried to do that the whole time.”

You’ve said you felt like you were able to handle The Voice better than American Idol because you are older and more mature. What specifically do you think you handled better on The Voice than you would have on American Idol nine years ago?

Sundance Head: “Well, first of all I didn’t really have an identity as an artist even to myself. So, that was the first major problem with the whole thing. And secondly, I didn’t realize how important it was to pick a genre of music or a style of music and really to try to target a fan base and try to continually target that fan base. On Idol, I was all over the place and really none of it was any good. And, I took a lot of lessons. I learned from that and tried to apply them to my life going forward.

I mean, the list for me we could talk about that all night long and it’d be a very lengthy interview. Maybe one of these days we can get into that, but there’s just so many things I did wrong on that show. As a person, I wasn’t a very good person to begin with so I was selfish about a lot of things. You know, I’ve said before if I could meet myself again I’d probably punch myself in the mouth. So not a very good dude, you know? But, thankfully, I’ve had a reprisal and I get a second shot and hopefully I can do things right this time.”

Was there ever a week where you thought you might be going home?

Sundance Head: “Well, I didn’t feel like I had a very strong performance on ‘Blue Ain’t Your Color,’ to be honest with you. When I went out to perform that song, my guitar was out of key in the beginning. So, I wasn’t sure what key I needed to start in. And if you listen back to the actual performance, you can hear that something is wrong in the beginning. Luckily for me, Paul the bandleader bailed me out of there and gave me the right note on his piano when he wasn’t even supposed to be playing. They’re such professionals and I’m sure it’s happened before. He immediately recognized what was going on and bailed me out. But it certainly was embarrassing for me and a moment that I would never like to have to go through again.

What I did also learn, the most important part of that lesson for me was when a show has a guitar tech and they bring you your guitar and you’re going to go on stage, it’s in tune. You don’t have to check it to make sure it’s in tune, and that was my mistake. I wanted to make sure it was in tune so I tried to double check it. And Jason Warrior was absolutely killing everybody in there on stage, so my tuner wouldn’t pick up anything and I had already detoured, and so I was just completely a mess. So that was the week I thought that was it for me, really.”

How did you feel when you were told you were going to be singing with Kiss and then what was it like to actually take the stage with them?

Sundance Head: “I really was blown away that they agreed to do it and even the fact that I was going to have the opportunity really was amazing. My brother took me to see them before he died, a month before. I rode his shoulders for the whole concert, so I’ve always had a really strong emotional bond with Kiss, their music, and so I couldn’t believe it.

And then when we ran through rehearsals I was missing everything up. I was dropping lyrics and I know all of their songs and every lyric to it. I mean, I could be the lead singer if I had to. But the minute when we were standing there I just was so amazed that it was actually happening, I didn’t really know where I was. The rehearsal was like one of the most intense things that ever happened to me. It was like the first time I had ever been alone with a girl in a bedroom as a teenager. I really just had no idea what to do and I was just so overthrown with emotions and it just was such a wreck. Luckily, Paul (Stanley) and Gene (Simmons) were such sweet guys that they really talked to me and tried to calm me down and tell me, ‘Hey man, you know, we’re just dudes like you, man, and it’s our honor to be up here with you. Just relax and take it easy.’ And so I was able to take their advice when the real performance went down. And still, I even got choked up a little bit. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to actually sing because I was actually crying. But I don’t think anybody could see that.

I was standing underneath the drum riser when the intro started, when they kicked into ‘Detroit Rock City’ I felt the risers moving. And the moment was so huge for me that I just for a second thought I can’t possibly go out there. But I knew I absolutely had to, so I did it somehow. But that, besides marrying my wife and having three children, that’s probably the fifth most important thing that’s ever happened to me in my entire life. Even more important than winning The Voice, I think, was just having an opportunity to play with Kiss on stage. As ridiculous as that sounds, that’s how much it meant to me.

I know that’s an experience that no matter what happens, if I go on to actually be famous or I don’t do anything else for the rest of my life, that’s a moment in my life that I will never be able to have again. And I know that. It was such a thrill ad I’m just so thankful to NBC and The Voice that they allowed me that opportunity, and I’m so thankful that Kiss would agree to do that.”

Can you talk about deciding to sing your dad’s song along with Blake? Was that a complete surprise to your father?

Sundance Head: “That is true. I wanted to surprise him. I mean, he had caught wind of something because he was kind of poking around. He was asking what’s going on and other stuff, and so he knew something was up but he didn’t know really what was going to go down. I was just so thankful that Blake would allow me to do that. I mean, he wanted to do a duet song. They didn’t know what song that we wanted to do together. They pitched a couple of songs to me. I had emailed Blake and said, ‘Hey buddy, what do you think about doing ‘Treat Her Right,’ my dad’s song on the show as a duet?’

He emailed right back (and) his reply was, ‘Let’s do it.’ I was just so excited to have the opportunity to bring my dad’s joy on a national stage like that because he’s been doing music his whole life. That’s all he’s done is bring happiness to people and joy through music. I know for me, personally, he’s been such a wonderful father and he’s given me so many talents and told me so many things. It’s like having a mentor every day that you can ask questions to and live with. I know that I’ve been so blessed to have that opportunity. And I just was so thrilled to be able to bring him a little excitement.”

It must have been gratifying to bring that song back to a huge audience, some of whom may have never heard the song before.

Sundance Head: “Yes. I was really gratified about that. I mean, I still think that’s one of the greatest songs ever. It’s just a simple tune but it’s got so much rock ‘n roll in it and so much attitude – you know, the hey heys in the chorus and the screaming he did in the song. To me it was just one of the most iconic songs from the ’60s I think. Of course, I have a biased opinion obviously.

I have him to thank for a lot of the talents that I have. He was much older than all of the other parents whenever I was growing up and he had been through a lot more, and so he was always the cool dad. He would treat me and my friends with a lot of respect like we were just his buddies. He introduced us to a lot of music that we probably would have never even heard that were maybe outdated for our generation or something of that nature. But, really, we were fortunate to have him in our life to show us the records that he had and to spend the time to talk about what he liked about certain artists and why he thought their music was popular. I certainly remember all of those conversations and try to use them every day when I have the opportunity.”

Did you write “Darlin’ Don’t Go” for The Voice or was that written before the show?

Sundance Head: “No, I wrote that before The Voice. That song is on the record we just released earlier this summer before I went on the show. It’s from the record titled Soul Country which was going to be our breakout record to the Texas music scene. And, it was. We were nominated for song of the year with ‘Darlin’ Don’t Go,’ and I got nominated for New Male Vocalist and New Entertainer of the Year. I guess I couldn’t go to the music awards and I couldn’t really promote it because I was on the show. So I just kind of let things just kind of slide by but I was just thrilled that it was recognized by the people back in Texas that I admired and that I was working so hard to get their attention.

But, there’s a couple of songs on that Soul Country record that I wrote for Misty. One of them is a single that I have out now back in Texas called ’13 Years’ which was about our wedding anniversary. She’s such an inspiration to me; I can’t say it enough. I mean, she really is everything to me. And any success that I have, people need to understand that I’m really probably not even part of it. It’s mostly just because she believed in me that much that she pressed me and gave me the strength that it takes to go out and do it. I mean, I can tell you one thing. If Misty could sing, she would have already taken over the world. I can promise you that. That’s the kind of ambition that she has. Sometimes I wonder why she even, you know, married me to begin with, really, so I’m just thankful that’s all.”

What was your favorite performance from a contestant on another team?

Sundance Head: “Oh man, that’s easy. Man, that has to be Wé on the finale when she did that Broadway tune. I saw her do that in rehearsal – ‘Don’t Rain on My Parade,’ I believe is the name of it. When I saw that in rehearsal, I mean I’ve got to tell you I’ve never seen anything like that. And, she’s only 16 or 17 years old! I could tell you right now I was completely blown away. She’s going to be famous. If there’s anything that we’re getting from this interview today, please make sure that you guys remember when I tell you that Wé McDonald is going to be famous. That’s the bottom line. Her talent… I mean, just to be able to remember those lyrics – it was like three or four pages of lyrics. There was seven different tempo changes in that song. She delivered it like a master, like she had been doing it for 20 or 30 years. It was effortless to her and you can see the love for music on her face. I mean, she sang through her teeth while she was smiling. It’s like she’s a freaking seasoned pro, you know? She’s a killer and that’s why I really thought that she was going to beat me. I would have not felt sad one minute. She definitely deserves to be in the limelight and she will be, no doubt about it.”

It looked like you and Blake Shelton had a really good relationship. What was your favorite moment with Blake?

Sundance Head: “Well, I had many favorite moments with Blake and most of them were off camera and probably the conversations were very candid. So, I mean, he’s a really sweet guy. He’s a very big-time joker. He tells a lot of bad dirty jokes that really aren’t funny. His sense of humor is just very different. A lot of times he says things just to make himself laugh, I think. I really do. Like, I’m sure Blake could just make himself laugh all day if he was alone somewhere by just speaking to himself in the mirror. That’s the kind of guy he is.

He’s a very, very, very sweet dude, very laid-back guy. I would probably say my favorite, absolute favorite moment probably for me is whenever he came to my side up there during that press conference at the end and was asking the record label to absolutely do what they could to make sure that they held up their end of the bargain. I thought that was very admirable. That’s something that he certainly didn’t need to do. It just reaffirmed everything that I had believed all along, which is this guy is a badass. He deserves to be people’s champion because he is the people’s champion.

And for me, and nothing against the other coaches and they’re all very nice, but I think Blake is pretty much the whole show. I mean, everything hinges around him and just what a cool guy he is and how likable that he is. It’s very entertaining to me to look at him when he does these skits and does all these things to make him not necessarily come off as the smartest guy all of the time, which he absolutely is the smartest guy all of the time. In fact, it’s all of us that’s getting played mostly, you know?

But he’s got it figured out, man. He’s just a great character and he knows that. He knows when to turn it on and went to turn it off. I’m just really proud that I was able to build a relationship with Blake that I know that we’re going to have throughout this whole thing and probably for the rest of my life. You know, after I won we had a press conference. I was whisked off with my family and Blake went his direction, and that could have very well been the end of everything. I may have never spoken to him again. But Blake texted me later that night and said, ‘Hey Sundance, here’s my phone number. Store me on your phone. Make sure you call me if there’s anything you ever need.’ And just to let you know, that’s the kind of guy Blake is every day. I’m sure I’m not the only person that feels like he’s reached out to me, both as a mentor but also as a friend.”