Last year I, like millions of other Aussies, curled up on a couch and watched The Voice. This wasn’t the first TV talent show I had watched – my gosh, there had been so many leading up to that: Australia’s Got Talent, The X Factor, Australian Idol and probably half a dozen I can’t remember! – but The Voice had something different about it which succeeded in drawing me in.
It might have been that this TV talent show format finally offered something different. It seemed a little more musically credible than Idol: less “We’ll make you into a pop star, baby” and more “Here’s some feedback/coaching which could genuinely assist you on your singing career.”
Yet this second season feels like things have “settled in” even more than the first and the show is now more comfortable in its skin. Not that I have seen a television show with skin of a tangible description but dear reader, you know what I’m saying.
For those of you who didn’t watch the show last night, it’s now up to the “battle rounds” segment of the contest. This means two singers on the same team – often quite comparable in style/genre – battling it out against their partner to go through to the next round.
In its essence – singing together for the greater good of a song but also directly competing against each other — goes against the grain of the natural collaborative nature of music, creating something bigger than just one person but not without that one person. Performing with others on a song is like playing on a football team: it’s about sacrificing a certain level of individual pride for the sake of teamwork and success.
What went on in last night’s “Battle Round” from Team Seal particularly interests me.
An 18 year old boy named Harrison Craig was battling it out with a seasoned music pastor, teacher and incredible singer called Tim Moxey. Both shared the same “woo you like the Jazz cats of old” abilities, had smooth voices and gave high calibre performances to the Josh Grogan version of ‘You Raise Me Up.’
The younger of the two strode out on stage like a young Michael Buble and sang with the training and breath control of an opera singer. Wearing a suit and singing (often with his eyes closed) to a captive audience, his voice seemed deep and powerful beyond his years and his storytelling skills matchless.
Next to him stood his vocal match: the refined and confident Tim Moxey, who held his ground and expressed his rendition in a way that showed off his versatile range. Eyes shining, unwavering in presence and with both lightness and clarity in his tone, he was complimented by Delta Goodrem as possessing a “spiritual quality” to his voice.
Yet, it was Harrison who won his coach’s favour and progressed into the next round.
“Well done man, you are a fox,” Seal could be heard encouraging his protégée after the performance. “You’re special and you know it.”
After watching a few episodes of The Voice this season, I am struck by one overwhelming and overriding theme which pops up time and time again.
Most – nearly all in fact – of the contestants have openly spoken of personal struggles and adversities which they have overcome or are “working on”. Many artists we’ve already seen go through to the next rounds are the ones who manage to harness their struggles in such a way as to draw the good from it for their craft.
They are not wading in negativity, regrets, self doubt nor do they wear a sense of entitlement. Simply, they do the best they can with the reality of what they have.
We’ve seen contestants mention ongoing battles with depression, insecurities of all kinds, fears of both failure and success and many more. As many contestants there are, that’s how many struggles there are. That also includes arrogance: that’s one of the worst struggles of all.
On The Voice, just as in life, there are truths we can learn.
Artists, when they admit pain, have the opportunity to realise that their ‘weakness’ can offer an unexpected place to draw strength from; to tell stories from; to inspire from; speak truly from the heart from and engage with others in ways deeper than before.
We all go through pain, we all go through times of hardship and there are – and will probably always be – struggles in our life. But the way forward is to turn a weakness into an – unexpected and rich – source of strength.
Picture credit – The Voice photo gallery
For me, it was the winner Harrison’s personal struggle which intrigued me and drew me in.
While most contestants can choose whether to reveal their struggle or mask it, Harrison’s struggle is on display for all. His involves stammering sometimes, and that’s something I have felt before too.
Unlike others, someone who stammers has no option of hiding their “struggle”. It’s evident. This brings forth vulnerabilities whether the person likes it or not.
There are always rewards when we share something ourselves and are open – not hiding – about what we’re going through.
Seal said that he gave the victory to Harrison because he had the ability to “connect” with people, something – he explained – was very difficult to teach.
It’s an interesting truth this: that from our struggles can spring forth a source of great, unexpected source of strength. It’s so strong that often the person who has it doesn’t realise how much it can inspire others.
I look forward to hearing more from those of these talented performers!
You can “like” both performers on Facebook – Harrison and Tim. Be sure to check out Tim Moxey’s debut album for sale with the Hope Collective, where half the proceeds go to charity. He covers some of my absolute favourite songs like What a Wonderful World, Over the Rainbow and surely one of the best songs ever written: Bridge over Troubled Water and I am keen to get my hands on a copy!