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Posted September 20, 2015 by Jeff in Tunes
 
 

Joshua Davis: The voice is his

Joshua Davis
Joshua Davis

Singer-songwriter Joshua Davis got on The Voice the hard way. He gave a blind audition that immediately caught the attention of judges Blake Shelton and Adam Levine. Davis would go to make it to the final three contestants. Along the way, he became the first artist in eight seasons of The Voice to perform an original song. He also performed duets with the Maroon 5 vocalist plus nine-time Grammy award winner Sheryl Crow. Driving through Michigan on the way to pick up his dog from his aunt, the husky-voiced singer called us to talk about the experience and his plans for the rest of 2015.

You’ve been performing for something like 15 years. How did you get your start?
I was raised going to music festivals. There was a lot of music around the house. Early on, I had an interest in country blues and Delta blues. When I was in college, I formed Steppin’ In It, which was an American roots ensemble. We stole things from traditional American forms and synthesized everything into a different sound. I did a lot of writing for genre. We did country blues and New Orleans street music and old country stuff. We did 200 plus shows with that band. We played lots of festivals. We toured all over the country and then into Canada. Then I had a family and started backing people up to play keyboards. I was still focusing on songwriting as my main thing. That’s what I’ve been doing. I do solo shows, both as a trio and quintet.

Did growing up in Michigan influence your musical inclinations?
Absolutely. I was born in Detroit and raised in Detroit. Michigan has an incredible musical legacy. We have Motown and garage rock and great jazz. I spent years in Lansing and there’s a music store there called Elderly Instruments. It’s a mecca for string instrument players. There are always interesting players revolving around that store. I got to see John Hartford play and talked to him at a folk concert at the store. People like that orbit around that place. The scene in Michigan and the Midwest is very collaborative, while other scenes are more cutthroat. But that’s not the way it is for us. There’s reciprocal enthusiasm and firing up of one other instead of just getting ahead yourself. It’s community-based music for community gatherings.

Talk about Earthwork Music. How did it start and what were your ambitions?
It’s more of a cooperative or a collective. It’s a songwriter and artist collective. We all lend support to one another. We also lend support to organizations that we line up with that are non-profits. We support progressive organizations.

Essentially, it’s a network of creative people with similar mindsets who want to lean on each other.

Talk about your blind audition for The Voice. What was the experience like?
They called me up after seeing some videos of mine online. I had never seen the show before. Reality shows aren’t in m daily diet. I couldn’t believe it. I decided to do it after checking out the show because it’s a lot more positive than other reality shows. There’s not that element of embarrassing people or laughing at people. That’s not what the show is about. I liked that about it. I was one of the late adds to the show. I stepped into this environment of people who had already gotten to know each other. Everyone that works on the show and all the other contestants are like a family. That was surprising to me. One of the strangest things for me was that I’m used to gigging and playing a few sets a night. It was like preparing for a month to do one 90-second spot. I like things that are raw and unrehearsed and have that kind of energy. But to focus on one part of a song for a month and nail it showed me that there is something to be said for raw power and that real organic sound but it doesn’t mean you have to forsake rehearsing. It was a wild scene, especially after being a grassroots guy for so long. It was a learning curve. Everyone was supportive and it was a great environment.

You become the first artist to play an original song on the program. What inspired that decision?
It’s what I do. I’m a songwriter first and foremost. That’s what I’ve always done. The show focuses on who you are as a person as well as how well you can sing. Who I am as a person comes from my songs. They have a portion of what they call original songs and when I found out that those original songs weren’t really original, it freaked me out. It didn’t make any sense and it seemed really false. I approached them and said that I am a songwriter. I sat down with Adam Levine. He liked the songs. I had to fight the network in a big way. I’m a pretty nice guy but I got pretty mean with them. I told them I wasn’t going to sing and they could find someone else to do. They finally agreed and they caved. It was one of the more successful songs I did on the show. That, to me, was my big win. Hopefully that moment changed their perception of the contest. It’s a controlled environment. It has to be. I understand. But hopefully it shows that they can have more faith in their artists and in their audience.

What has life after The Voice been like? Are you currently working on an album?
When I came home, I wanted to spend summer in Michigan. I played some incredible shows around Michigan. I did a lot of songwriting. I have a slew of new tunes. The plan for the fall is to play more out-of-state shows and start recording. I’ve lined up a few different producers. I’m really excited. There’s great opportunities on the horizon. A want to put out a 7-inch very soon. In not too long, I hope to have a full-length out.

Do you have any sense of what direction the music will go?
I’ve been doing this for 15 years. I found my voice as a songwriter and as a producer and arranger. I’ll also add in what I learned from the show. I want to look at my voice as an instrument. Now, I warm up and work on my voice. I feel like it’s more expansive of an instrument. That work ethic I learned from the show. I think it will make the new recordings different. I’m kind of a control freak too. It’s always going to sound like me. I feel like I’ve been at it long enough that I have my voice and I have my sound.

Upcoming 2015 Shows

09/25

 

09/26

 

09/27

 

10/04

 

10/16

 

10/17

 

10/18

 

12/18

Kent Stage – Kent , OH

 

Joshua Davis Live at LMC- Benton Harbor, MI

 

Ramsdell Theatre – Manistee, MI

 

Saint Cecilia Music Center – Grand Rapids, MI

 

Wildflower Pavilion  – Lyons, CO

 

Tri Lakes Center for the Arts – Palmer, CO

 

Bluebird Theater – Boulder, CO

 

Dogwood Center for Performing Arts – Fremont, MI

 


Jeff

 
Jeff started writing about rock ’n’ roll some 20 years ago when he stood in the pouring rain to hitch hike his way to see R.E.M. on their Life’s Rich Pageant tour. Since that time, he's written for various daily newspapers, alt-weeklies, magazines and websites. Feel free to comment on his posts or suggest music, film and art to him at jeff@whopperjaw.net.