One of the important concepts to grasp about The Voice
is that for viewers it may be a show, but for everyone else involved, it's a journey. Someone who knows that very well is Team Adam's Nicolle Galyon, who arrived looking to strengthen herself and left knowing she had done just that.
Nicolle is another artist who left the competition in battle rounds, meaning that we didn't get to know her as well as we could have (unless you count Adam Levine
literally pushing her piano out of the ring before she and Mathai faced off in a performance of Sara Bareilles' "Love Song"). There are a lot more sides to her that you haven't gotten to see. But that's where I'm here to help: Nicolle took time out of a busy day in Nashville to chat with me about where she's been and where she's going.
She didn't always intend on being a performer. "I moved to Nashville in 2002, right when I graduated from high school, wanting to be in the business side of the music business," she explained. "I loved country music; it was what I was raised on. I just wanted to be a part of the business, and I went to Belmont University [the college which also boasts season one's Jeff Jenkins and season two's Tony Vincent
as alumni]. I ended up making friends with a bunch of songwriters, and found out about this whole publishing world. I really got the bug to do that. I just started writing songs by myself and by the time I graduated from college, I got a publishing deal from Warner Music."
Yet Nicolle wasn't necessarily a newbie to the other side of the coin, either. "I had grown up playing classical piano because that was all that was really available," she told me, and she toiled on both sides until she got the call to audition for the show. It came at a perfect time, as just weeks before, she'd had a conversation with a manager who doubted her ability to be a successful artist that left her wanting to erase that feeling for herself.
"It was kind of a milestone moment for me," Nicolle said. "There [was] no better way to find out if I could do this or not. Some people wanted to win it, some people wanted the exposure, and I did it because I owed it to myself. When I got that phone call, I was like 'Thank you, God.' Being on the show was more about who I was becoming and a lot less about what I was going to get out of the show."
Her blind audition landed her on Team Adam, speaking to another important fact about the show: while it does factor in, don't assume that an artist will go with the coach who shares their genre. "One of the cool things about being a part of Adam's team is that, I feel like I'm probably the most like him, in terms of musically, which is funny because I'm country and the music that I write is country," Nicolle explained. "A lot of people automatically thought, 'She's going to be on Blake [Shelton]
's team,' [but] Adam is a self sustaining writer, artist, singer, front man for a band all in one. That's kind of how I feel like I am. I can't separate my writing from my musicianship. And that's how Adam Levine is to me. All the other coaches, at certain points, sing other people's songs or they let other people write their songs for them.
"And one thing I appreciated about Adam was that he was always very straightforward," she continued. "He's a good guy. I think that's one of the things that I loved about season one, I was such a fan of the show and a fan of the heart of the show, and what it stood for. The personalities of the coaches are so endearing and so genuine. I expected Adam to be really endearing, because I remember watching him get teary-eyed in certain moments over Javier [Colon]
. He's invested and he cares. I love Adam, and that's the cool thing about being Team Adam, I'll be a part of Team Adam the rest of my life."
Yet she's also an adopted member of Team Blake, because "I've written with Raelynn. I'm actually the reason she tried for the show, because her manager sent her to write with me and I told her about the auditions. I offered her my spot to try out because I believed in her." So Raelynn fans, you might want to say thank you to Nicolle the next time you're on Twitter.
As for Nicolle's own experience on the show, "I walk away from it feeling like I made the most of every moment when I was there. I have no regrets over how I handled myself, how much I appreciated it, and how much I invested in the people around me. We are so close, and there's so much love and respect, from the highest producer down to the contestants. There isn't anybody that isn't deserving or worthy of the goodness that comes from it. I walked away from this with like fifty new friends. I looked at it like, 'Okay, every experience that you have in the music business is a part of making you someone.' I left that environment having a newfound appreciation for my life. I have nothing but good things to say about it."
Now, she's back to both working with other artists and also continuing to forge her own path. "Right now I'm working on an EP that should be done within the month," she told me. "I've spent the last five years in the studio and I've never released anything with my name on it because I'm writing for other people. When I was on The Voice
, I assumed the role of an artist, so that really helped me and spurred me on to go on and record a project. I kind of like to say I'm a country Sara Bareilles, so when [Adam] picked a Sara Bareilles song I was so excited," she added with a laugh.
Of all the artists from season two, she has perhaps the most detailed idea of what she wants from her future. "As a writer, I have very specific goals that I want," she explained. "I want to win a BMI Award. They honor the fifty most played songs on country radio that year, or whatever genre you're in, and I want that. I want a number one song on country radio. I want to go to an arena and hear 15,000 people singing one of my songs and knowing every word. If I'm the vehicle for that or someone else is a vehicle for the song, it doesn't really matter," she added.
That's something truly admirable about Nicolle: she's given just as much of her time, energy and heart to other artists as she contributes to her own career, and she can take pride in both things. You can feel her love for just being a part of the music process, and she doesn't let whose name is on the bottom line take away from that. In fact, she's actually held back a little about herself.
"There's kind of an interesting twist that people don't know about," she confided. "My husband is a songwriter as well and he actually wrote Blake Shelton's recent single, "Drink On It." I knew when we were filming that was supposed to be the next single, and I didn't want the show to know about it. I didn't want the show to make a deal about the fact that I was somehow connected to Blake, and I didn't want the world to think that the show was rigged."
In fact, she continued, "Neither my husband nor I had ever met Blake and he didn't know who the heck we were. I'm pretty sure that [Team Blake artist] Gwen [Sebastian] was the first person who told Blake. I think that's honestly how he found out. I met Blake for the first time at the ACM Awards - after I had been
kicked off the show - and he put it together and had a moment. It was a fun little secret to have up my sleeve."
One other thing that's no longer a secret is Nicolle's versatility, and the additional self-confidence that comes with having proven that in front of a national audience and some of the biggest names in music, no matter how short the tenure.
"Adam said it a million times, but I felt like getting to make the cut to do the blind auditions, I won. There's an extra amount of courage," she said. "I have a reputation as a songwriter and a lot of people want to put you in that box, and it took a lot of guts for me to bust out of that. What the show did for me the most is that people in Nashville know that I'm fearless. They look at me and they're like, 'What else can you do?'"
Well, they're about to find out, and so are we.To keep up with Nicolle, you can follow her on Twitter (@nicatnitemusic) and visit her official website, Vimeo and SoundCloud. For more on The Voice, you can follow my Voice-exclusive Twitter at @bigredchairs.Image courtesy of Nicolle Galyon/Souder Photography