The Voice Blind Auditions: Interview with New Team Members Joshua Howard, Sam Behymer, and More

The Voice Season 6 Blind Audition Interviews
Melissa Jimenez performs on NBC's 'The Voice' (Photo by Tyler Golden/NBC)

The March 3, 2014 episode of NBC’s popular singing competition series The Voice saw potential team members delivering engaging performances covering a diverse array of musical genres. R&B, soul, rock, and Country were all covered by artists attempting to entice Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Shakira or Usher to turn their chairs around. Among those who did snag spots on one of the four teams were Joshua Howard and Sam Behymer (Team Adam), Sisaundra Lewis (Team Blake), Brothers Walker, Tanner James, and Melissa Jimenez (Team Usher), and Clarissa Serna, DeShawn Washington, and Lindsay Pagano (Team Shakira). Following their selection as new members of The Voice coach teams, these hopeful artists took part in a conference call to discuss their The Voice experiences.

Sam, what compelled you to go on The Voice and try out as opposed to any of the other music competition shows?

Sam Behymer: “My favorite thing about The Voice is that it’s all positive. There’s no humiliation factor and everyone who auditions for the show is incredibly talented, all of the feedback from the coaches is positive, and the way that we’re all treated as artists is positive. So it’s the only reality show that I would have ever considered.”

Why did you choose to sing “Royals” as the song to introduce yourself to the judges and The Voice audience?

Sam Behymer: “I chose ‘Royals’ because it’s a hit song so I knew that people would recognize it and be interested but also because I really identify with Lorde as an artist. She comes from an interesting alternative place with her style and songwriting and I really identify with that in my music.”

Sisaundra, who else have you worked with besides Celine and what jingles have you sung?

Sisaundra Lewis: “I’ve worked with Peabo Bryson, Najee, Enrique Iglesias, Janet Jackson. I’ve worked with a lot of different artists. As far as jingles are concerned I’ve done Sprite, Doublemint, Shower to Shower, to name a few…Dr. Pepper.”

Melissa, you talked about how you had one person in mind. Was that person Shakira and how hard was that decision? And why did you choose to start a cappella?

Melissa Jimenez: “Okay, well the first question, the person that I had in mind from the start was Usher. I have been such a fan of his since I was a little girl and I have the first cassette that I ever bought was with my own money was his single with ‘You Make Me Wanna’ which I still have today. At the end of my blind audition, you know, after just going through [it] which I was so excited about, I had said into the camera that he is somebody that has touched all different genres: pop, soul, Latin, R&B. And because he’s an entertainer and a dancer, he is somebody that I would love to be the female version of.

So when I was standing in front of all four coaches, I was just so humbled and the moment was very surreal for me. And to see Shakira turn around I respect her as a Latina, I respect what she’s done for us Latin women, for the whole Latin community, so that’s why for me I was starting to get a little shifted towards her because of her energy, her beauty, and how much respect I have for her. So it was tough for me but I still had to go with who I initially wanted to go with and that was Usher.

And your second question was why did I start off a cappella, because it was such a classic song done by Alicia Keys who I also admire. I’ve seen the song done by so many incredible artists on the show, I think it’s been sung at least three times and I really wanted to bring something new, something fresh, and I wanted them to just hear my voice just with nothing. I was just very glad that Paul Mirkovich and the band was able to allow me to start off that way. They really appreciated my idea and the fact that I was able to do that in the show, something different. It was amazing, it was a great moment for me so that’s why I decided to do that.”

For the Brothers Walker, it kind of seems like an unlikely pairing between you guys and Usher. What were you hoping that he was going to bring to the table for you as a coach this season?

One of the Brothers Walker: “Honestly we kind of embrace different a little. I think that’s the most exciting thing for us is the fact that, you know, we’ve never been really run of the mill anything in our minds. We’ve always wanted to do things a little bit different and there’s no other way to do Country music different than to be paired up with Usher. So we’re excited about the pairing and about getting to work with him. It’s going to be awesome.”

Clarissa and Melissa, singers on The Voice are asked to sing different types of music, different genres of songs, and we see them get tripped up a lot. Both of you seem like you’re very versatile so what sort of advantage do you think that gives you as the competition goes forward?

Melissa Jimenez: “Well, I think at the end of the day it’s very equal. This show is called The Voice and they’re trying to search for somebody that can take that next crown. And as far as advantage, I’m very happy to be able to sing in actually three languages but if my coach is willing and wanting for me to showcase that side of me, then I’m more than happy to do that. But as far as advantage, it’s just an extra tool. I don’t see it as an advantage or a disadvantage. So if my coach says, ‘You know what? Time to pull out that card,’ then I will but for right now I just feel really blessed to be a part of the show.”

The Voice Season 6 Blind Audition Interview
Clarissa Serna (Photo by Tyler Golden/NBC)

Clarissa Serna: “You know, I was raised on a lot of different genres of music and just kind of with an open mind towards these different genres. I’ve had the ability to sort of imitate different voices and stuff and I think since I was a kid that was something that intrigued me and has always been interesting to me, even imitating movie characters or whatever it might be. So I think that that’s been very beneficial to me as far as my music goes because I have the ability to sort of use my voice in different ways.

I’m hoping that it will be beneficial to me in the show by showing the nation that I have versatility in my voice and that it’s not like a one-song record. I think all of us are so talented and have a lot of versatility in our voices and I think that this is a great opportunity to show that off and share it with the world. So, hopefully, we’ll be able to pull some tricks out of our pockets and share that with everybody.”

Sam, you seemed a little overwhelmed when you were walking off the stage. How long did it take you to get over the fact that now you are part of the team and what was that initial feeling like when you saw your first chair turn around?

Sam Behymer: [Laughing] “I’m still not over it. I’ve been watching The Voice since Season 1 and I’ve always been a huge fan of the show. I’ve always dreamed of being on Team Adam so seeing him turn around was just completely insane and I absolutely fell apart after that. It’s all just a dream come true and everyday I wake up and remember that it’s real. So I don’t know if I’ll ever get over that.”

And, as a follow-up, Adam said that he knew how to help you. What kind of help are you expecting to get from him?

Sam Behymer: “I think I tend to be kind of all over the place when I perform. I’m a very emotional performer so I really get into the song and kind of lose myself in that and Adam’s very composed on stage. He’s always very prepared and I hope to learn from him sort of how to control my performance, if that makes sense.”

What’s it like to work with Shakira and what’s been surprising about your interactions with her thus far?

DeShawn Washington: “Yeah, Shakira, she’s an awesome person and to me she loves to just really take time and work with you and mold you and try to help you along the way so when you do perform you know what to bring to the audience and to everyone else. I enjoy working with her and she grew to like my style of singing although, I mean, I know she said she loved how I’m a classical singer and whatnot but I’m glad that I got to talk with her a little bit and told her how I could expand my genre and everything else like that.”

Clarissa Serna: “You know, Shakira is, her presence in her coach’s chair is incredible and I think that’s what lured us in in the first place to go with her. She has a beautiful presence about herself, the way that she carries herself knowing that she has this intense following all around the world. Her presence is just very peaceful and kind and compassionate and I think that’s what drew us in. I can’t speak for DeShawn but I’m sure he would agree.

She’s just like wise beyond her years. She’s amazing, she’s like a genius and speaks all these languages, plays all of these instruments, and she’s so humble about it. I really admire that about her. In speaking with her and spending time around her, she’s very patient and calm which is funny because when you see her performing she’s so energetic and out there but she listens and she gave us great feedback, and I felt really great about my interaction with her. It was just amazing to get to know her on a different level and to receive some words of wisdom from such an icon. It was really cool.”

Lindsay and Mark, we only got to see a tiny snippet of your audition. Can you talk about how that went and what type of feedback you received? How did you make the coaching decision that you made?

Lindsay Pagano: “My audition, Shakira was the only chair to turn for me and she actually turned at the very, very, very, very last second. It was pretty nerve-wracking throughout the entire thing because I had all of these moments that I had kind of planned for in my song where I thought, ‘Oh maybe somebody will turn around on this point or this point,’ and by the time I got all the way to the end they were still not facing me. And so when Shakira turned around, it was just the last second and I think when it happened I had kind of like given up at that point. Then I was just so shocked when I saw the lights coming at me and she was just staring at me with this huge smile.

It definitely tested my patience, but the whole experience was just wonderful. Her feedback, for me, was things that I knew that I had to work on. She wanted me to work on my lower register which I’ve always kind of had problems with, and so I was glad that she recognized that because it was a common thing that we both picked up on and she came up and hugged me and I was on Team Shakira. So here I am!”

The Voice Season 6 Interviews
Joshua Howard (Photo by Tyler Golden/NBC)

Did you receive any good feedback from the other coaches?

Lindsay Pagano: “Well, first they thought I was Spanish and I’m not and so we kind of had this awkward moment where they were like, ‘Oh, you’re Spanish,’ and Shakira started talking to me in Spanish. I said, ‘No, I really don’t understand what you’re saying.’ But from the other guys they were basically telling me that they really thought that I’d be a perfect fit for her. Usher said that he was kind of just about the push his button and then he saw that Shakira was going for it and so he kind of let her take the wheel. So, I’m glad that he did.”

Joshua Howard: “For me it was Shakira and Adam who turned around. They turned around pretty early; it was just crazy. Adam had a lot of good things to say. He was very honest and so he gave very honest feedback, so I appreciate that and that right off the bat he was just coaching me and telling me things that he would help me do and what I needed to work on. So that pretty much sold me there on like why I chose Adam.”

Did you have a coach in mind and what are your feelings about joining Team Usher? How do you think he’ll be able to help you?

Tanner James: “Yeah, from the start I always thought like when they announced Usher and Shakira were coming back to season six I was like, ‘Wow, that would be so cool to have Usher,’ because I feel like he really knows his stuff, he knows the business and he wants it. I know he wants to win so I wanted Usher. I went in and the fact that I went out on the stage – and, yeah, they actually didn’t show a whole lot last night, unfortunately – but he turned around in like the first two notes of my song and I was just blown away. Honest, it was just so quick and I was just so surprised and thrilled, like, ‘Oh my gosh,’ you know? I just wanted to get to this point and sing on the stage and then all of the sudden, bam!, he hits his button and the experience like goes off and I was just like blown away.”

Sisaundra, we know you’ve toured and you’ve worked on records. What would you hope to do at this point in your career ideally, and what do you think The Voice can do to help you to make that happen?

Sisaundra Lewis: “Well, at this point in my career I would love to [have] the opportunity to step center stage and all my career I’ve always been the supporting cast. So with The Voice, they enable us to be able to step out front, to tell our stories, our lives, our journeys and give the American public the opportunity to vote. And also to work with masters in the craft of vocals, vocalization and music, so I couldn’t think of a better way if I were to start something at this stage in my life than to be on this show to make it happen. I always say I’m not an island and to have such a huge company like The Voice and NBC to create a show like this for artists like all of us is just a blessing.”

Tanner, what did your family and friends do to help you get ready for this performance?

Tanner James: “My family has been behind me the entire way. There’s been lots of just practice and practice and practice and should I do it and my mom and dad, ever since high school, have been pushing me like saying, ‘You know, just go do it, go perform at the next stage, whatever it is, just go sing and see how it turns out.’ So I’d say I’ve always had great support behind me and then when I decided to do this, when I decided to do The Voice I knew the whole time that there was just a huge cushion of people waiting behind me just like no matter what happened.

It’s been really cool to have them and then also two of my cousins and my mom and my sister and my girlfriend all came out to my blind audition, and my brother also, and they were just in the room. Having them there in the moment when your chair turns around then it’s awesome because you get to really celebrate it with the people that matter the most.”

What are you most hoping to learn from Usher and this experience?

Tanner James: “I think Usher is different from the other coaches. He’s not really focused on what the next song is going to be on the show, but on how you can just have a good performance. He’s kind of communicated that he cares more about my career in entirety, and so I think that’s what I want to learn is where do I have to go, what are some steps that I need to take to really turn this into something, kind of springboard my career from the show and have it keep going past whenever The Voice stops for me. I think there are big things to learn from a music superstar like him and anything is helpful. But just mainly I guess just huge things like where I can take my career next and where he thinks I should go with a voice like mine. Like he says, it’s a different voice and he said it’s unique so it’s like what exactly do you think would be best for my voice?”