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Feature Story: Interview with The Voice’s Chevonne

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Chevonne, the cherry bomb songstress, is making moves and is ready to release her debut album. You may know her from NBC’s The Voice (Season 3), where she shocked and impressed the judges with her amazing stage presence, soulful vocals, and bright style. Before The Voice, Chevonne was a hungry artist, looking for ways to enhance her career and taking chances to lead her to her big break. She has toured with British singer Estelle and has done backup vocals for Lady Gaga.

Chevonne is the epitome of a humble and talented artist who strives to achieve every dream. She is a game changer, beating the odds and always coming out on top. I got the chance to talked with Chevonne about her upbringing, her experiences with The Voice, and her Kickstarter campaign. Check it out below!

On her musical upbringing:  

“I’ve been musical and performative my whole life; I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be onstage, or when I wasn’t writing little tunes and making up skits in my own little world.  Even when I was a baby, my parents say I learned to talk and read really early because I was so eager to get started singing and playing the piano.”

On some of her music influences:

“My biggest influences are Prince, Bette Midler, Foo Fighters, and Queen.  They all found a way to turn genres upside down and surprise people with futuristic and forward-thinking artistic choices.  Live shows and visuals were a huge part of all of their careers, and often ground-breaking music videos and iconic live performances alone were enough to catapult them to “icon” status.  Also, all four artists incorporate humor and sex appeal in ways that aren’t overt and one-dimensional.  They all break barriers and push envelopes.  I am looking to do the same, while staying in that fun, youthful pop music realm.

Prince, Bette Midler, and Dave Grohl have also had pretty successful film careers.  I’m one of those artists that won’t be satisfied just making records and touring…I want to do Broadway, act in and score movies, write for other artists, host SNL…I’m addicted to entertaining people!”

 On a valuable lesson that she has learned doing her music career:

“Across the board, during my work for Estelle and Gaga, on The Voice, and even while doing the small gigs like weddings and cover shows at bars, the most important part of being a musician/performer is being nice and respecting the job.  My dad always advised me to “show up on time ready to work and with a good attitude.”  He couldn’t have said it better.  There are people who are 8 billion times more talented than I am, but I’ve seen some of them lose their jobs because they’ve got big egos, or they complain during long work days, or they’re just plain unprofessional.

A-list productions like Gaga’s MonsterBall and The Voice take a lot of work and a lot of preparation time.  The crew is hard at work just as much as the cast.  You don’t always get a full night’s sleep; you’re dealing with jet lag; you have to sing and perform your best even when it’s the crack of dawn or a super late-night.  And that’s just the way it is.  It’s challenging work!  So if you’re professional, you make friends and you cooperate.  You laugh, you smile, you keep a positive vibe, and that’s what makes the stage/TV magic. “

 On the blind audition on The Voice:   

“It’s funny, all of my big career-defining moments so far have come from open calls.  I just heard about the audition and went, just to give it a shot.  Honestly, even though I’d just finished the MonsterBall, I kind of felt like I didn’t have a chance going in, but I’d be stupid not to try anyway.  So to make it onto that blind audition stage was really a big surprise for me! When Cee Lo and Blake turned, I was in pure shock.  Their chairs didn’t turn until after I had finished singing, so I was already in defeat mode.  I thought to myself “Wow, how embarrassing.  I’m going to have to go home and face everyone I know, and everyone will watch and see that I just don’t cut it.” And then I just stared in disbelief at these smiling faces.  Instant bliss! I jumped in the air and hooted and hollered.  I was over the moon.”

On her battles against De’borah Garner and Avery Wilson:

“Both rounds were tough, because I was paired up with such immensely talented and unique artists.  Avery and De’Borah are so dynamic onstage; they understand how to move and work the space, and they know how to translate the storytelling in both ballads and up-tempo current pop music within a live context.  Not to mention, both of them are my friends!  I guess because of that, it was easier to see the “fight” or the “competition” as a fight with myself, not against either of them.  In music, I don’t believe in pitting artist against artist.  So I just focused on doing my personal best and making it hard for the coaches to choose who to send home because we’re all on the same level regarding technique and originality.  I think in both cases I succeeded.”

On the shocking steal made by Christina Aguilera:

“Especially with the steal, I had a feeling I wouldn’t win the battle.  Dance music is Avery’s wheelhouse; I’m into the quirkier 80s rock songs and songs with more of a live sound.  I knew it was up to me to earn a steal on my own.  And I just set myself free at the end of “Titanium” and nailed the high notes!  I also did something out of the ordinary for a show like The Voice and really staged my portion of the song.  I had power moves for days!  Although Cee Lo said I was overdoing it a little, Christina understood my motivation to bring some really exciting entertainment value to my performance. I was so beyond thrilled and humbled at her positive comments after I was done, and the steal was a complete dream come true.  I was forecasting a Blake steal, but the Christina steal was even more rewarding because she hadn’t turned her chair during the blinds, and also because she’s one of my idols!”

 On her growing friendship with the contestants:

“We all got so close.  I especially bonded with my teammates on Team Cee Lo, because they were so much like me.  Many of them are older, more experienced and seasoned.  We all had similar music tastes as well, and put special emphasis on showmanship and personal style.  When I moved to Team Christina, Laura Vivas was my buddy.  On a team filled with young, fresh upstarts, it was nice to have that womanly bond.  Laura is hilarious and such a powerhouse!  I learned a lot from watching her, and she influenced me to channel my inner metal dude. I still keep in touch with Amanda Brown, Cody Belew, DOMO, Avery, and Ben Taub.  Nicole Nelson from Team Adam is another person I absolutely adore and look up to.

On launching her Kickstarter campaign:

“So, because I am not attached to a label, an agency, or any type of management, I’ve set up a site where the fans and the listeners can be my support system.  Making a record costs money that I just plain don’t have!  So this is an awesome way for people to have an active role in the next steps of my career.  They can choose whatever donation bracket they want–even just a dollar is fantastic–and they get a reward custom-designed by me depending on the level of donation.

Some of the rewards include free album downloads with special backer-only bonuses, customized Chevonne t-shirts, a customized guitar I used to write parts of the album, and a few clothing items I wore on The Voice.  I’m also giving out walk-on roles in the music video, access to backer-only online concerts, and free admission and backstage hangs at my shows.  It’s worth it if you like my music and want to really connect on the deepest fan level possible!

I urge anyone who is interested in contributing to this Kickstarter to not be afraid or feel pressured.  The small donations mean just as much.  And the site is extremely user-friendly.  Also, something many don’t know is that if I don’t reach the goal I’ve set, all the money goes back to the people who have pledged.  It’s all or nothing, so I need your support!  I want the record to be a professional-level, fun pop album with lots of interesting layers and new, exciting sounds!

On her future goals:

“When a gig ends, or I spend some time without work, I don’t stress. I know something is coming and I just put in the time and energy to write, create content, and search for the next opportunity.  And when there isn’t one, I make my own.  That’s what I’m doing with this record and the Kickstarter.

[In the next three years] hopefully I will be making tons of music and playing it across the country!  Creating awesome photos and art!  Becoming a viral sensation!  By the end of those three years, I hope to also be able to snag a spot performing on an awards show.  I’d love to concept and craft one of those legendary, star-making live moments that the whole world watches on TV, and then on YouTube the next day.”

On her motto that she tends to life by:

“Nobody ever hands you a career in the entertainment industry; you get out there like the warrior you are and reach for it until it’s yours.”

For more information on Chevonne, click here.

Visit her Kickstarter Campaign, here.

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