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'The Voice's Jeffery Austin: My one-chair turn just motivated me more and I gave Jordan Smith a run for his money!


By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 12/22/2015 

The Voice artist Jeffery Austin finished the NBC reality singing competition's ninth season in fourth place during the live finale broadcast.

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Jeffery was a member of Gwen Stefani's team.

Jordan Smith, who was on coach Adam Levine's team, was declared the champion of The Voice based on home viewer votes. Blake Shelton's team members Emily Ann Roberts and Barrett Baber finished in the runner-up spot and third place respectively.

In an exclusive interview with Reality TV World, Jeffery talked about his experience on the show. Below is what he had to say. To read our interview with Emily Ann, click here.

Reality TV World: When you were standing on the stage waiting for The Voice host Carson Daly to reveal the results of the final performance show, did you anticipate making it into the finale or were you already preparing yourself for bad news?

Jeffery Austin: I will be honest. I thought I was going [through]. There were about six of us that had a real shot at going through, and I considered myself one of them. I just didn't know where the chips were going to fall, like if I was going to be in the middle group or if I was going to be one of the people voted through.

So, I didn't know where that was [going], but I felt confident that I had a shot at The Save at least. Just because of what I sang before and how the weeks had been going, I felt really good about where I had positioned myself in the competition.

But obviously having a Top 9 before determining who goes into the finals put so many different variables into it that other seasons have not had, because at the semifinals, there's usually only one person going home and there were five. (Laughs) So, it was anyone's game and I'm so happy that I ended up pulling through.

Reality TV World: You were obviously a one-chair turnaround and Gwen stuck with you through the whole competition. Did you almost feel like you had something to prove throughout the competition -- to yourself and the other coaches because of that? Blake mentioned after you sang Monday night that you made him into a believer, so were you fighting for that to happen?

Jeffery Austin: Yeah! I think every round, it was important to fight and prove yourself. It gave me motivation onstage, it gave me motivation as a performer, and I was ecstatic to even get one chair.

Making it on the show is the first step and I think it just goes to show that, you know, continuing to fight is -- there's a lot of hype around the four-chair turns early on and it turns out, there was a two-chair and a one-chair in the finale, and a two-chair runner-up.

So, you never know what's going to happen in the competition, and to have preconceived notions after your very first experience, it doesn't matter because someone could go up and have their best performance -- or the best of the entire competition. You just never know what the energy is like.

And I talked with the coaches afterwards. I asked them, "What was going through your heads that day? What's the atmosphere like? Why are some people getting chairs and not others?"

And they just said it's all about the lineup that you're in and you never know who's going to come before you, what's going to happen before you, and what their day has been like in terms of what they're pushing for and what kind of artist they've been pushing for. So, you never know and I'm happy that I was able to get on and continue to prove myself.

Reality TV World: Gwen did a great job as your coach obviously, so this is a hard question to answer. But when you first auditioned, were you hoping a certain coach in particular would turn around for you? Based on the music you sing and the type of artist you are, it would be a little surprising if Gwen was your first choice had all four chairs turned.

Jeffery Austin: Growing up, I was a huge Maroon 5 fan and a big fan of Adam's. And so, going into it, I was thinking maybe that's who I would lean to, but I agreed with a lot of what the producers' said.

What they said is, "Go in there completely open minded and wait for who says the right thing and what you feel in the moment, because that connection you have in the moment is what is going to last you throughout the rounds." I mean, I didn't have a choice, so I can't say that if all four turned around Gwen wouldn't have persuaded me.

But I'm so happy that it was her because I don't think I ever would've connected as much as I did with her with any other coach, and she really fought for me the entire way. If I was on Adam's team, I might've had to go against Jordan Smith in an earlier round and sent home early, so you never know what's going to happen, and I'm just happy about what DID happen.

Reality TV World: Was it a learning curve with Gwen at all though, like when it came to choosing songs you both agreed upon and things like that?

Jeffery Austin: So, Gwen was pretty open [to songs]. What she wanted was a truly authentic, honest performance where you're connecting to the song and with the audience. And so, she doesn't care what song you sing as long as it makes sense. I mean, as we got down to the closer rounds, we were obviously getting pretty competitive, so we really focused on song choice.

But what she really focused on was connecting to whatever song I wanted to have and whatever personal journey I wanted to have. She can do that probably better than any of the coaches on that panel. She connects emotionally in a performance. She's very raw and open. So, that is something we worked on every time, and that's the No. 1 thing she guided me with as a coach.

Our musical styles, definitely different, but she is a pop star as well. So, she understands, she's in the world, she's real. And I wanted to sing emotionally touching and raw songs, and she happens to have an emotionally touching and raw hit right now. (Laughs) So she had so much to offer and we never kind of missed a beat in that regard, in terms of the coaching relationship.

Reality TV World: Many people were saying Jordan was in a league of his own this season. He delivered a killer performance every single week and then topped iTunes charts and what not. Did you sort of feel like Jordan had it in the bag and it was kind of a race for second place?

Jeffery Austin: I think that as the show has shown, frontrunners don't always win. So you can't really think that someone has it in the bag. I think we've seen [that] in past seasons... So really, it was a race to get to the finale, because there's a huge chunk of voters who don't vote until the finale probably. And so, that's what everyone kept saying.

Of course we knew Jordan was giving these incredible performances, and to say he didn't earn that status as a frontrunner or a person who's dominating the contest would be crazy because he was doing these insane performances. But I truly believe that me and other people on the show gave equally as crazy and insane performances, and I'm so proud of everything that we've done.

And I'm even so proud to have been on a season Jordan was on because I learned from him, he learned from me, you know, he's a true friend of mine, and I can't be more happy and proud of the entire competition that he's had and to be a part of it -- and to give him a run for his money, occasionally. (Laughs)

Reality TV World: Yes, you did! For sure. Based on Barrett and Emily Ann making the Final 4, and Zach Seabaugh being extremely close to the finals, would you make a country music connection to The Voice's fanbase? Do you think the majority is country fans voting for those type of artists or simply to support Blake Shelton? Was that a topic of conversation amongst the contestants?

Jeffery Austin: I mean, it's always thrown around jokingly, but if you watched last season, there wasn't even a country singer in the Final 6. So you never know what's going to happen. This season, it just happened to turn out that he had three country future superstars, to be honest, this season.

And I don't think he's ever had three people more marketable, more talented and connected. So, I don't think that it has anything to do with the country vote. I think it has everything to do with their level of talent and the marketability they have as artists.

Reality TV World: Realizing The Voice is a show, a competition with a certain amount of strategy involved, did you ever think you had to change up your song choices to try to appeal to the larger audience so you could ultimately win -- even if it meant compromising your own personal artistry at times? Was that a constant struggle for you guys?

Jeffery Austin: For me, no. I think that everything I worked with as a performer was connecting emotionally to the song and giving an authentic, honest performance, and I could not do that without -- just with my level of performance experience -- having real situations and real-life experience connecting to each and every song.

And so, I had to find songs that meant that to me so I could hopefully touch others. And I feel I sang a few songs that were not well known at all. I think "Jealous" that I did at Top 10 no one has really heard. It was the first time I had heard it, but it's one of the most beautiful songs out right now, and so I'm so glad you got to see it.

James Bay's "Let It Go" was a song that's a little more up and coming. "Say You Love Me" by Jessie Ware is not as big here as it is internationally. So, I never felt pressured to do it, even when I took on a big well-known song like "Believe," I changed it and made it my own. It's an iconic dance song and I made it a ballad.

Reality TV World: What particular comment, praise or advice will stick with you the most now that The Voice is over? It could be from Gwen or any other coach for that matter. Maybe it was something that helped prepare you for the music industry right now.

Jeffery Austin: I think people saying early on that I could win really gave me confidence to keep going forward with the competition and really emerge as one of the top competitors. Having people give constant praise really helps you in terms of the confidence you have onstage. If you're constantly getting beaten down, it's really hard to perform as well as you'd like.

If there was one thing in particular, it was the comments I got for "Jealous," where Adam said he was completely taken away from the competition and Blake said he was really wrapped up in it -- that he's never been so wrapped up in a performance this season. That meant the world to me because it made it less of a competition and more of me showing who I was as an artist.

That's a song that I would love to make. That's the kind of music that I want to make, and to have people be really connected and enthralled by something I was doing onstage, really showed me I could potentially do this after the competition, and that was a turning point for me.

Reality TV World: What's next for you? What are your plans for the near future?

Jeffery Austin: I think hitting the ground running with everything. I'll be moving to LA, pursuing music, heading to meetings, reaching out to people. It's crazy.

After this show, that's when the real work begins. To be a working musician, it requires a ton of work even if we had this amazing opportunity and huge exposure. We have to keep working for it. Nothing is going to be handed to any of us. So, I'm really excited to get started on a real music career outside of the show.

To read Reality TV World's exclusive interview with Emily Ann Roberts, click here.



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