Provo-based musician Ryan Innes performed on “The Voice” hoping to be recognized as a vocalist, but he did not expect Adam Levine, Shakira, Usher and Blake Shelton to fight for the opportunity to mentor him.
“The Voice,” NBC’s nationwide music competition, gives vocalists the opportunity to audition for a chance to be mentored by a big name in the music industry and then compete against the other mentors and their team members. While the vocalists audition, the mentors have their backs to the stage. They must judge each vocalist by their voice alone. If a mentor wants an auditioning vocalist on his or her team, he or she turns and claims the new team member.
All four mentors turned their chairs when Innes sang his cover of “Gravity.”
“All of that was pretty much a blur,” Innes said. “I just had to make sure I had 90 seconds of courage and 90 seconds of keeping it together because Adam turned around within the first few seconds of the song. So I really tried to not pay attention to him because I had the rest of the song to get through.”
After hearing each mentor’s plea to join his or her team, Innes ultimately chose Team Usher.
“(Usher) is a very wise and well-spoken man when it comes to giving advice,” Innes said. “It’s been great to see that side of him as a coach and as a mentor.”
Innes looks forward to working more closely with Usher and learning all he can to become a better performer.
“I’m used to sitting behind a piano,” he said. “I’m used to playing in that scenario, so I’m not really up and about and on a stage and working an audience in that type of environment. So, (Usher) obviously has some chops in that department, and I really hope he can help me discover a little bit more of what it’s like to work an audience as Ryan Innes, not behind a piano.”
Innes, a former BYU student, credits his performing abilities to BYU’s men’s a cappella group Vocal Point.
“Vocal Point gave me the first real opportunity to be a soloist, for one,” he said. “I’d always been in the background of a choir or something like that. And then, to consistently play out and to interact with an audience and arrange songs, I really got a chance to find a voice that I didn’t know I had through being able to perform in that group.”
Amy Whitcomb, another former BYU student, also auditioned for and was selected to be on “The Voice.” Whitcomb performed in BYU’s women’s a cappella group Noteworthy.
“Honestly, singing with Noteworthy in college at BYU was the first real consistent outlet for performance that I had, and I think it helped build me a lot as a musician,” Whitcomb said. “So I started to realize how much I love singing and the kinds of genres I could tap into. It really did help me start to find my voice, even though I was singing in a group.”
Whitcomb auditioned with a cover of Kelly Clarkson’s song “Because of You.” She was selected to be on Team Adam, led by Maroon 5’s Adam Levine.
Whitcomb’s hope was that Levine would recognize her talent and ask her to be on his team. After only about eight bars, Levine turned his chair, and Whitcomb said she lost her cool for a second then felt complete relief and excitement that her goal of getting his chair to turn was finally realized.
“In that moment, in the blink of an eye, all of that started to become a possibility and become real,” she said. “It was like sky-diving. It was just the biggest adrenaline rush you’ve ever felt.”
Whitcomb has enjoyed working with Levine thus far and is looking forward to his mentoring in the rock genre.
“What I love about Adam is his fire and his passion, and he doesn’t sugarcoat anything,” she said. “And at this point, you know, he’s not afraid to get really critical of me, and that’s what I need. I need someone to take me to the next level.”
Innes and Whitcomb will compete against the other mentors and their teams on the show.
Nick Dueck, a BYU graduate, watches “The Voice” with his wife. He is excited to see some local talent making headway in the industry.
“I think it’s awesome that Ryan and Amy made it onto the show,” Dueck said. “The only thing I didn’t like was that we didn’t get to see Amy’s entire audition. I look forward to watching them progress.”