Whatever happens on 'The Voice,' Vicci Martinez feels like a winner
An interview with Tacoma resident Vicci Martinez, who is one of eight remaining contestants on "The Voice," the NBC reality TV show.
The News Tribune
'The Voice'8 p.m. Wednesday on NBC.
When Tacoma singer-songwriter Vicci Martinez takes the stage tonight on "The Voice," she'll be one of eight final contestants on the hit NBC show. By the end, she hopes to be one of four.
But whatever happens, she says she's already a winner.
"So far it's been great exposure," she said. "But I feel like I've already won. I've been able to get out there on a national level pretty quickly. It's really coming as a surprise."
In a phone interview from Los Angeles, Martinez sounded excited and just a little tired. The schedule she and the other contestants keep is almost nonstop.
"We get our song. We rehearse. We record the song for iTunes. We rehearse again. ..."
Martinez isn't some karaoke singing wannabe who answered a cattle call a la "America's Got Talent." The veteran performer has been on stage for more than a decade, first gaining attention when she was a student at Stadium High School. She's opened for or shared the bill with Sting, Annie Lennox, Jonny Lang, Brandi Carlile and blues legend B.B. King. At 18, she competed on "Star Search."
Martinez, 26, had just gotten new management and was coming up with a new project when she was recruited for "The Voice" in February. "All of that was put to a halt," she said.
Producers of "The Voice" knew Martinez had turned down appearing on "American Idol" during its inaugural season, so they made sure she understood the new show was different, Martinez said. Still, she had her doubts from her "Idol" experiences.
"I didn't like the contract," Martinez said of "Idol." "I didn't like — even during the audition — how plastic-y it was getting."
Some critics have decried what they call "The Voice's" gimmick: At the initial audition, celebrity "coaches" on the show (Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green) kept their back to the performers so they had no idea what the singers looked like. Martinez said that aspect was a welcomed contrast to her experience on "Idol."
"They ('Idol') were focusing on what you looked like. 'We need you to look like a rock star.' I was 16. I really didn't care about that sort of thing," she said.
The 5-foot-1 Martinez has a powerful voice that brings gravitas to soul-searing songs such as "Jolene" — the song she performed on last week's show. She acknowledges the dissonance between her appearance and her voice.
"I don't look like the way I sound," she said. "I'd go and set up for my show in Tacoma and people were thinking I'm the roadie."
Though she was hesitant at first to try another TV talent show, Martinez has no regrets now: "I feel like they want to help launch a good career. They really make sure that you are represented the way you want to be represented."
The show has quickly become a hit for NBC.
"None of us realized what a big deal it was. It's just blown up. My Facebook has maxed out," Martinez said. She went from 100 followers on Twitter to 22,000 in a matter of weeks.
Some of those fans thought she looked a little distraught after last week's performance of the Dolly Parton hit, Martinez said.
"It's a very serious song, and I wanted to get into it," she said. "You have to come off that emotion. I wasn't in a bad mood at all. ... I wanted to feel the sorrow in the woman's voice."
Her coach, Green, was supportive of her song choice: "He was like 'You have to do this song. I feel the magic.'"
Tonight's voting opens at 7:45 p.m. (The show broadcasts live on the East Coast.) The final four will compete June 28, with the winner revealed June 29. The finalist receives $100,000 and a recording contract.
Craig Sailor: 253-597-8541 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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