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COM Alum Belting It Out on NBC’s The Voice

Brendan Fletcher has advanced as one of eight finalists on hit reality show

Brendan Fletcher, finalist on NBC reality tv show The Voice

BU alum Brendan Fletcher (CGS’10, COM’12) is one of eight contestants still remaining on NBC’s The Voice. Photo by Chris Haston/NBC

(Editor’s Note: Bad news, but Fletcher was eliminated on Tuesday’s episode of NBC’s The Voice, as the show trimmed from eight contestants to four. He seemed to take it in stride, though, tweeting, “One helluva ride! Gotta keep looking forward!” and adding a message for his devoted fans, “We’re just getting started people love you guys.”)

As an undergraduate at BU, Brendan Fletcher (CGS’10, COM’12) planned to become a screenwriter. He graduated with a degree in film and television and took a shot, but eventually, Fletcher’s first love—music—won out. The New Jersey native had formed his first band with his brother when he was 12, after learning guitar. By early this year, he was tending bar in New York City to make the rent and playing music with his brother in small clubs around the city. Then, in February, Fletcher got the kind of break many musicians dream about. He went to an open audition for NBC’s The Voice, vying against thousands of would-be recording artists before being selected to participate in the blind auditions and becoming one of 48 singers chosen to compete. Since September, when the 11th season launched, Fletcher has become a familiar face to millions of Americans. He’s now one of the final eight singers competing for the grand prize, which includes $100,000 and a recording contract.

Contestants appear on one of four teams, each coached by a different celebrity musician. Television viewers vote each week to determine who stays and who goes. Fletcher is on Team Adam, coached by Maroon 5 front man Adam Levine. The show, Fletcher says, has been a whirlwind of experiences, everything from congratulatory messages from his rock heroes to tweeting selfies with the likes of Oscar-winner Matthew McConaughey.

Last night’s competitive round, Fletcher sang Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel.” Tonight, he will find out if he’s advanced to the next level when the show airs live at 8 p.m.

BU Today spoke with Fletcher from Los Angeles last week, as he was preparing for this week’s competition, to talk about the impact The Voice has had on his life.

BU Today: What’s the coolest thing that’s happened to you so far?

Fletcher: When Gregg Allman tweeted “Well done brutha” after I sang “Whipping Post” on the night we did favorite songs by the Allman Brothers. That was amazing.

(Fletcher responded by tweeting “Ok now THIS is insane… What an absolute honor.” Even Carson Daly, the host of The Voice, took note, tweeting “Pretty cool endorsement.”)

What’s a typical day like for you while the show is in production?

A 12-hour day is a short day. We’re doing everything from commercial shoots to blocking onstage to rehearsing duet songs that we’re going to sing, on top of the song we’re going to perform ourselves on Monday. It’s really, really long days and, at times, it can be extremely stressful. I haven’t been under this amount of stress in a while, probably since finals week at BU. (Laughter.)

Do you find that you get better under that kind of pressure?

Yes. You’ve just got to worry about taking care of yourself and working hard to get your song done, and everything will follow suit. I’m playing with one of the best bands in the business. Also, the vocal coaching on the show is great. My voice has improved tremendously just from being on the show in the past couple of months.

I used to not be able to open my eyes onstage, not know how to interact with the audience. I am used to playing in bars for ten people, five of whom don’t even know there’s live music happening. I came into this with not a lot of experience under my belt, just playing with a guitar and microphone in the corner of some bar. So I’m kind of going from zero to 100 mph.

Pictured left to right, Brendan Fletcher, Josh Gallagher, Adam Levine, Billy Gilman

The final members of Team Adam and their coach on Season 11 of The Voice. From left, Brendan Fletcher, Josh Gallagher, Adam Levine, Billy Gilman. Photo by Trae Patton/NBC

What’s it like for you walking out on that big stage with the band in front of a live audience and the four coaches (Levine, Alicia Keys, Miley Cyrus, and Blake Shelton), not to mention the millions watching at home?

It is the most intimidating thing you can imagine. It requires a lot of deep breathing before, getting into the zone, and making sure that you’re really in the moment when you’re up there. As soon as stuff that is not related to the song starts creeping into your mind, that’s when bad things happen. You don’t have a teleprompter or anything like that. It’s sort of do or die. That camera sweeping around your head represents millions of viewers. It’s surreal, it’s incomprehensible. But it’s awesome when it goes right. There’s no better feeling than to perform at the highest level on a big stage. Really, my dreams are coming true here.

How do you take care of your voice when you’re singing more now in a week than you used to in a month?

Than I did in a year! I’m doing more singing here than I’ve ever done in my life. The voice is like a muscle. The more you sing, the stronger your voice gets. The constant singing has actually improved my voice. I drink a lot of tea. I try to get enough sleep, but it’s really hard. I have about half an hour of vocal exercises I do when I’m not performing. But I’m so glad I have a reason to sing. To get paid is also a very nice thing.

Can you express what the experience has been like?

Sometimes it feels like you’re living someone else’s life. (Laughter.) I’m on the phone with Adam Levine talking about what song I’m going to sing next, and he’s, like, wracking his brain. Or I’m in a room for four hours listening to every song under the moon, from “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” to “Let It Be.” You’re thinking about whether you should sing it like the record or take a rap song and do it your way. The song choice is so huge.

You and your brother Steve play together as the Another Brother Band.

Yeah, we do a sort of Aztec Two-Step, Simon & Garfunkel, folk-Americana type of sound. But we each do our own solo stuff, mine being kind of folk-rock-soul-type music, in the style of Ray LaMontaigne, while he’s more influenced by Bruce Springsteen.

I hear some country in your sound, and I read that you were expecting to be on Team Blake. But he was the only one of the four judges who didn’t turn his chair around for you in the blind auditions. Why did you choose Team Adam?

I wanted anyone to turn around. If Gus from Maintenance was in one of those chairs, please turn. As long as the ride kept going and I could pursue my dreams. But when Adam said such nice things about my voice and how it’s not about hitting eight thousand notes, it’s not about all the crazy vocal runs, it’s about connecting with an audience with a voice that’s genuine, that’s what won me over. He really does believe in me, and the song suggestions he makes fit my voice. He’s not giving me Celine Dion songs to do.

Did you perform much while you were a student at BU?

I used to play open mics at the [George Sherman Union] and the old HoJo’s (575 Commonwealth Ave.). I used to play these hootenannies organized by students in apartments; we’d all go and play acoustic music, jammed into a tiny apartment. It was moments like that where I really cut my teeth in terms of playing for people.

I always loved singing and playing music but I didn’t know how to make those dreams possible. Film isn’t the easiest field to get into either. It was a lot of working odd jobs. I worked in a hospital, I worked at a moving company, I worked at hotels at the front desk or as a bellhop, all the while playing music at bars and open mics.

But I tried out for The Voice in Philadelphia, and I got a callback a couple of days later. Then I got a call that said, come out to California for the executive auditions. I did that, and they said, we’re now considering you for the blind auditions. Eventually, I’m there on the stage singing a song, and ever since that moment it’s been a really wild Alice in Wonderland tumble down the rabbit hole, to be honest with you.

The Voice airs tonight on NBC stations at 8 p.m. ET.

Joel Brown, writer, BU Today at Boston University
Joel Brown

Joel Brown can be reached at jbnbpt@bu.edu.

4 Comments on COM Alum Belting It Out on NBC’s The Voice

  • Emajanti on 12.06.2016 at 12:22 pm

    Thanks for the article. I’m Brendan’s fan all the way from Indonesia.

  • tjstleo on 12.06.2016 at 6:27 pm

    love this pic. my favorite. very classy jacket. looks like the one for “Jolene” blinds

  • Laurie on 12.06.2016 at 8:27 pm

    We love you Brendan.
    Big Voice fan.
    Proud to BU!

  • Jimmie Demo on 01.05.2017 at 10:31 am

    I am such a fan. Do u have a CD. If so I want it. Your voice us pure and beautiful! Nothing like you in a long time. You give me hope that rock Will never die. Love you !

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