The Voice has returned for season 9 with coaches Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams. These four started off the premiere with a bang by performing each other’s songs, but once they took their seats, it was time to get down to business and begin the Blind Auditions.

There are always some strong and unique voices viewers get to hear each week on The Voice. BuddyTV was on a conference call with the first group of advancing artists to hear what they had to say about preparing for the show, trying to pick a coach (and how feeling a personal connection went into those decisions), original music and (for some of the singers) leaving a band to go solo.

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Preparing for The Voice

Regardless of a singer’s past experience (or lack thereof) in the music industry, nothing can completely prepare you for an something like The Voice. As Keith Semple said, “I didn’t think that I could actually be nervous anymore because I’ve done this for so long and done so many shows,” including as a member of the band Seventh Heaven. He soon learned that’s not the case; rather, “I got up [on stage on The Voice] and I was absolutely a nervous wreck” because this show is like nothing else they’ll go through. He went on to say, “That was a really cool feeling to be humbled by that [experience].”

Trying to Pick a Coach

When there are multiple coaches trying to persuade a singer to join their team, it can get overwhelming for the contestants — and things might not go according to their original plans. Take Nadja Nicole as an example. She told her mother that she “was going to go with Adam or Pharrell; I was dead set on that. But I also realized that I have to be open and willing to learn from anyone.” She chose Blake because of what he said to her: “I felt like he heard my heart and everything he said told me that. … It felt a little more personal.”

This is a common thread with many of the singers. Jordan Smith had an experience similar to Nadja, in that he sided with Adam because he felt more of an emotional connection to the Maroon 5 frontman, despite initially siding with Pharrell.

Mark Hood knew which coach he wanted (Blake), but he changed his mind. He listened to what the producers had told him, that everyone should go into these auditions with an open mind despite having an idea of what coach you want to be with. “Once they turn around and once they start talking, it changes everything.” Mark joined Team Pharrell.

Barrett Baber is “really diligent about the moves that I make, and I think every step through.” As he notes, though, you can have a plan going into something like this, but things can change easily. He had all four coaches turn around for him, but he sided with Blake because he kept talking about country music. And when that happened, he knew who he should choose.

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What Did The Singers Learn from The Voice?

The Voice is only in the beginning stages of season 9, but already the contestants are learning so much. Barrett Baber explained that being “in the presence of so many fantastic singers and artists” on this show, along with the outpouring of support, reminded him that “music is a universal language … that everyone understands and appreciates.” Those are very strong words, and whether you are musically-inclined or not, I think we can all agree with that statement.

Nadja Nicole agreed and added, “There is a sense of community with all the contestants. … Whether they were a country artist or rock artist or pop artist, it didn’t matter; we all have things we can teach each other.” Mark Hood also mentioned that from being on The Voice, he’s “gained a greater respect and love for music and performing in general.” At the end of the day, “That’s what this is all about.”

Bands and Original Music

Before The Voice, a handful of these contestants were in bands and are now transitioning into being solo artists, and some have their own music they’ve written. Keith Semple was in a band called Seventh Heaven, which has been successful. “I’ve never not been in a band,” he reveals. “So I don’t really know what it feels like” to be a solo artist. He’s hoping that his current band can be part of his journey if things go well on The Voice.

Kota Wade also has experience being in a band, and once she started down that road, she knew that “this is what I want to do; I want to be a rocker.” She’s still working on music with her band and can’t wait to continue with them post-The Voice.

On singing competition shows, contestants usually perform cover songs. But a lot of them do have their own original music. Siahna Im is in that camp. This young singer made her mark during the premiere, with both her voice and personality. “I really strive to write my own songs, but I’m only 15 years old so I haven’t had much life experience. But I just try to put myself in other people’s shoes and try to tell different stories.”

The Voice airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8pm on NBC.

(Image courtesy of NBC)

Jeff Dodge

Staff Writer, BuddyTV

Jeff Dodge, a graduate of Western Washington University, has been a TV news editor for many years and has had the chance to interview multiple reality show stars, including Randy Jackson, Nick Cannon, Heidi Klum, Mel B and John Cena.