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Saturday, December 1, 2012 - Page updated at 04:30 a.m.
Mycle Wastman: a Seattle singer long before ‘The Voice’
By Misha Berson
Seattle Times theater critic
Seattle singer Mycle Wastman almost didn’t try out for TV’s popular singing competition, “The Voice.”
At 40, the seasoned vocalist and Chief Sealth High School grad did the reality-show “whirlwind” years earlier, for TV’s “Star Search,” and wasn’t keen on repeating that grueling experience.
But Wastman, who headlines at Jazz Alley two nights next week, changed his mind after a friend got him into an invitation-only “industry” audition for NBC’s “The Voice.”
He aced it. Then came the all-important, “blind” on-camera audition this fall. Crooning Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together,” in tones escalating from a warm baritone to a sky-high falsetto, the handsome soulster shone in a “ Voice” episode that aired Sept. 18. Celebrity judges Cee Lo Green, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton punched their red I-want-you buttons for Wastman, and pleaded with him to join their competing teams. “I’m more excited about you than anyone else today,” Green gushed.
“It was wonderful, and a little nerve-wracking,” Wastman recalls. “There’s always a possibility no one will turn around for you. I definitely didn’t expect their reaction.”
He joined Green’s team because “he was definitely the most soulful of the coaches up there.”
Two more appearances later, Wastman was out of the running. (He lost a “knock out” battle round to Nicholas David, his roommate during the show.)
But after months in Los Angeles, undergoing “an extensive process — everything from psychological evaluation tests, to choosing songs, to movement and vocal coaching,” Wastman returned to Seattle.
“I was disappointed but also relieved I didn’t have to play the game anymore. The competition part is very stressful — it just puts your stomach in knots. But ‘The Voice’ has definitely opened up a lot of doors for me.”
Raised in West Seattle by grandparents while his parents grappled with drug addiction and other problems, Wastman sang “in church, the Seattle Boys Choir, high-school vocal ensembles. In my 20s I did a lot of karaoke.”
But he set music aspirations aside during a four-year Army hitch (he served in Desert Storm), followed by an Army Reserves stint and construction jobs. “I helped build Safeco Field, the Seattle Convention Center. But when I was about 30, I decided I just wasn’t having much fun if I wasn’t doing music.”
A self-described late bloomer, Wastman changed course. Singing with cover band The Hit Explosion, “I worked on my craft, got better at guitar, started writing songs. I quit the band to concentrate on my own writing, and put out two independent albums (‘The Beautiful Stay’ and ‘I’m All Over It’).”
An impressive voice and pleasing stage presence won Wastman regular gigs at The Paragon, the Edgewater Hotel, Tulalip Casino.
Now “The Voice” exposure gets him into venues he couldn’t crack before. He’s thrilled that his two-night Jazz Alley debut sold out, and a third performance was added. He recently sang before 30,000 people at a Christmas lighting ceremony at Boston’s Faneuil Hall.
As for future plans, Wastman keeps it real. “I’m doing a lot of my own material, and basically just trying to grab as much of an audience and national presence as I can.”
He’s joined a cadre of local acts featured on TV singing shows — Blake Lewis (“American Idol”), Leroy Bell (“The X-Factor”), Groove for Thought (“The Sing Off”). None are superstars but all are still at it — including Vicci Martinez, an earlier finalist on “The Voice.”
“I’ve been friends with Vicci since she was 17,” Wastman says. “We hope to do a show together in San Francisco, and one sometime up here.”
Misha Berson: firstname.lastname@example.org