Michael Williams On 'The Voice': 'I'm Here For A Reason, I Can Do This'
MONDAY MAY 4 UPDATE: Here's a link to my 13-minute interview with Michael Williams from Sunday's Around Cincinnati. He learns his fate on the show tonight.
ORIGNAL POST TUESDAY, APRIL 28: A year ago, Michael Williams of Deerfield Township was rehearsing for Kings Island's "Country Flashback" show in the Festhaus.
Now he's waiting to see on Monday May 4 if he'll be singing on live television for the first time, as the final contestant for NBC's The Voice live shows.
"It's definitely a struggle to focus some times," says Williams, 18, who is home schooled. "I've been doing school alongside of everything that is going on. I just find the time where I have a minute to work, and focus on that, then I move on to the next thing."
Williams competed for viewers' votes in a four-way "knock-out round" on Monday, April 20. The winner will be announced on The Voice Monday (8 p.m. Channel 5, NBC). He's actually been waiting since late January – not two weeks – to know his fate.
"Yes sir. That was recorded about three months ago. And so I've been waiting quite a while for the results here," Williams told me when I recorded an interview to air on Around Cincinnati at 7 p.m. Sunday on WVXU-FM and WMUB-FM, and streamed at wvxu.org. The Voice shows broadcast by NBC in February, March and April were taped in Los Angeles in January.
"I know a lot of people were asking, 'How can they have an audience with the knock-outs with all of this (virus) going on?' " he says.
Williams made his national TV debut on The Voice March 9, when he was selected by mentor Nick Jonas during the blind auditions.
"To get the chance to work with Nick is really something special with the success he's had in the music industry," Williams says.
Between the TV tapings, Williams says singers on Jonas' team had "a lot of practice with him on our songs, working on our songs up to the day of the performance." On the April 20 "four-way knock-out" show, Jonas said Williams had "the voice of an angel." Cameras did not show Williams' reaction.
"I was just blown away that he would say that," Williams says. "He's a rock star, so he's knows what he's talking about. For him to say that it was pretty mind blowing. I was grinning ear to ear when he said that. I was smiling so big."
Williams tells me that he didn't know a lot about Jonas and had to research the Jonas Brothers' career before the show. But he was totally familiar with James Taylor, the "mega mentor" on the April 20 show from his parents' vinyl record albums.
"I didn't know Nick Jonas' music at first, that's the funny part, because I knew James Taylor. He's a legend. His name was around the house all the time when I was little. That was probably the first record I ever listened to, and it was on a record player. I never performed any of his songs, but I definitely sang them around the house."
Then Williams started singing "Whenever I see your smiling face, I have to smile myself…" You'll hear it on Sunday's Around Cincinnati.
The first songs he learned were hymns. His father, Tim, was pastor at Mariemont Community Church. His mother, Judith, sang in the church choir.
"When I was 6 years old, I asked my parents, 'Hey, could I have singing lessons for Christmas?' And I think they took a step back and said, 'What? Our 6-year-old is asking us for singing lessons?' But a couple months after that I was able to start singing lessons," he says.
By 8, he was performing in Acting Up productions in Mason and other Cincinnati area community theater groups. He appeared in Ursuline Academy's Les Miserables. At Kings Island last year he did about 200 performances of "Country Flashback" in the Festhaus.
"That was interesting because ... people were eating while they're watching. Some people would be very involved, and others would look up at you and then look back down and keep eating their food, so you didn't always get that energy from the crowd. It was definitely a learning experience for sure."
How does he describe his musical style?
"Throughout my whole musical career, I've sang classical, opera, musical theater, country and pop music. But I think where I thrive is in pop music. I write music as well, and that usually comes out sort of pop, but it depends on what I'm writing. So I'm excited to see how I evolve as an artist, and what music I put out."
Michael Buble is his role model. He studied his concerts on YouTube.
"I loved to watch Michael Buble. He really inspired me to want to do what I do -- to be an entertainer -- just because of how well he connects with his audience, and just how talented he is. I think he was my first musical hero. He really got me thinking about that dream, what I wanted to do and who I wanted to become. I think God has placed that on my heart ever since I was little."
Now thanks to national TV exposure on The Voice, his dream is within grasp. When I asked him if his career goal was to be a touring pop star, Broadway musical star or a Nashville-based singer-songwriter, he said:
"I would say all of the above! I'd like to get … my music to as many as possible. And yes, I'd love to tour around the country or the world, and bring music to as many people possible. And I'd also like to see my music be successful on platforms like Billboard, and make the charts and stuff, because that's always an artist's dream. I'd love to tour, I'd love to release a few albums in the next five or 10 years, and I love writing music as well, so I'd like to do all of the above. And if those opportunities to do Broadway shows come along, I'd gladly take them.
"I never really thought that I'd be here right now. When I originally auditioned, I sent in a video audition and I just kind of said, 'Let's send it in and see what happens.' I don't know if I felt completely ready, and I went for it. I'm so glad it paid off. Each step of the way was definitely a confidence boost. I'm here for a reason. I can do this. It's been a wild time, and I'm happy that I get this opportunity, for sure."
On Around Cincinnati, Williams also reveals more advice he received from Jonas, and talks about how his life has changed in two months, how he'd like to sing in Cincinnati, and whether he'll go to college this fall or pursue a music career.
Around Cincinnati airs 7-8 p.m. Sunday on WVXU-FM (91.7) and WMUB-FM (88.5) and streamed at wvxu.org.