Interview: Adam Wakefield Talks Time on, Life After ‘The Voice’
Adam Wakefield earned a slew of fans during his time on Season 10 of The Voice by belting out songs such as "Tennessee Whiskey," "I Got a Woman" and "When I Call Your Name." His vocal chops, combined with his soulful approach and artistic diversity, earned Wakefield -- a member of Blake Shelton's team -- the season's runner-up spot.
The Boot recently sat down with Wakefield to discuss The Voice, his musical goals and how he plans to use his time on the TV singing competition as a launching pad for the rest of his career.
What was it like being on The Voice?
It was interesting. Living in LA and living in a hotel for months at a time was not fun. We were sequestered, so we couldn’t leave the hotel, because people would recognize you. There were paparazzi trying to find where all of The Voice contestants were staying, too. For most of the time, you’d spend a couple hours a day doing something for The Voice, and then the rest of the day, you had nothing to do except hang out at the hotel.
But the show itself was a blast. I had these preconceived notions going into it that it was going to be this frilly Hollywood bulls--t, and it is in a sense; I mean, it’s a TV show, and I think more of the show is controlled by the producers than you’d think. But the flip side of that is, they pretty much let me do whatever I want on the show.
You sang a really eclectic list of songs each week, from country to R&B to rock 'n' roll. How did you pick what you were going to sing?
When it came to song selection, everything had to obviously be cleared through the writer and through the publishing companies. So if I had a song I wanted to do, like the Eagles -- they never approve songs for the show, so if I wanted to do an Eagles song, they were like, "Yeah, there’s no way we’re going to get that cleared." But besides that, they let me do whatever I wanted, let me arrange the songs however I wanted, even let me pick the players I wanted.
What did you learn from working with Blake Shelton?
We didn’t really have a mentor relationship. I think because I’m so much older than most of the contestants, he never really was showing me the ropes. The thing mostly that I learned from him was, he just has such a knowledge of country music that I don’t have, really of all of country music.
When it came time to pick songs, I was like, "What about this? What about that?" He’d say, "How about this song, or how about that song?" and I was like, "I never heard of that song." He’d say, "Let me play it. It’s on Ronnie Milsap’s third record." So that was what was cool with him, is that he gave me so many songs. He just has this catalog of knowledge for country music. And I did learn some stuff, because I’ve been doing music for a long time, but I haven’t been out front for very long, so he was really helpful about teaching me to interact with the audience, or keeping people captivated and feel like they’re part of the show.
Talk about your feelings when you realized you hadn't won, and that Alisan Porter was the winner instead.
Disappointed. Then I saw the pink confetti, and I was relieved. [Laughs] To be honest with you, I was 99.9 percent sure that she was going to win, just because it made sense; it was good TV. It’s in the contract that the producers can pick who they want to win whenever they want. I think that was kind of why I went the direction I did; the song choices and the stuff that I did for my last week of shows, I just did what I wanted to do. I wasn’t trying to get votes, I just wanted to put on an "ode to Nashville" sort of thing.
Did you expect a different outcome?
I kind of knew that regardless of how many votes I got, she was probably going to win, because she’s got the backstory. And they really wanted Christina [Aguilera] to win; a female coach hadn’t won the show yet.
And [Porter's] got the kid. She won, and she’s got the kid in her hand, and she’s crying, and she’s got the trophy, and her family’s around. If I had won, I’d have been standing there holding the trophy surrounded by all this confetti, and then my giant friend from Alabama who’s huge and hairy and not TV appropriate would come running out and probably tackled me. It would have been a very different outcome if I had won. She was the TV winner. I pretty much knew that that was going to happen, and I prepared myself for that.
Your original song, "Lonesome, Broken and Blue" went to No. 1 on iTunes after you performed it on The Voice. Do you have plans to release it on a full album?
The plan right now is to put together a live EP for probably December. The band is smokin’ good. The best thing about my whole thing has been my live shows, so I figure the best thing to do is put out a live EP. I’d prefer to do an album on a label, so this gives us more content to put out and hopefully some more momentum to try and get an album out on a record label ... As far as an actual release, full-length, we don’t really have plans for that.
Are you more interested in pursuing an artist deal or a songwriting deal at this point?
Both. I think when I moved here, I was more interested in being a songwriter and less interested in being an artist. When I got off the show, I would say I was probably a little more bitter about mainstream country music than I am now. The show kind of made me think of the industry a little better, I guess, because even though I’m on a network television show that’s on prime-time TV, they’re letting some 42-year-old fat, bearded guy play blues.
There’s always people in the industry that care about talent and care about good songs and care about good songwriters. Granted, for every one of those, there’s 10 people who are worried about money and promoting trucks and beer and stuff like that. It’s your job to seek out the people that care about talent and want to nurture good artists and talent. When I got off the show, and especially after getting the band together and hearing my songs come to life, I was more inspired to be an artist as well.
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