R&B crooner Vedo already felt like a champion at the end of The Voice‘s Season 4 Blind Auditions — mainly because he’d been able to share the experience with his mother, who was gravely ill with lung cancer and succumbed to the disease shortly thereafter.
“That meant the world, man,” he says. “The doctors had advised her not to travel, because [she was undergoing] chemotherapy. But she was just like, ‘I have to go. This is my son’s first huge appearance on TV, and I really want to be there.’ A lot of people don’t know, but the day she arrived from Indiana, she got really sick and ended up in the hospital. I was worried, thinking, ‘If I don’t get a chair turned, this was all for nothing.’”
Ultimately, Vedo’s rendition of Justin Bieber’s “Boyfriend” landed him a spot on Team Usher — and he made it all the way to Season 4′s Top 12. TVLine caught up with the singer to discuss his prior near-miss with music fame, his covers of power ballads by Bryan Adams and Phil Collins, and that super-close Battle Round bout against Jessica Childress.
TVLINE | During your time on the show, I don’t think we got a real sense of what you were doing prior to coming on The Voice. Were you able to make a living through music or did you have to have a side job?
I was actually performing a lot –10 or 15 shows a week — schools, nightclubs and things of that nature. I was making just enough to stay afloat before I auditioned for The Voice. Of course, [to get to that point], I’d been working since the eighth grade on my artistry and my writing. I shot my first music video when I was in the eleventh grade, for my song “Traffic Jam,” and that was a big step. It appeared on BET, MTV, VH1. Then from there, it was a downfall, but eventually it came back up, and here we are now.
TVLINE | You were pitted against Jessica Childress for the Battle Rounds, and that was a brutally tough matchup. I’d even say she went into that as a front-runner based on her initial audition.
We were close before we even got matched up, and we became like little brother and big sister. She’s an awesome singer, she’s an awesome performer, and I was humbled when Usher picked me [as the winner]. Honestly, it could have gone either way. But my mindset was really about just connecting with the song. Because if an audience feels like you’re trying to outdo the person that you’re going up against, it automatically turns them off. If they can sense that you’re actually having a good time and you’re drawing them in with the amount of emotion and the amount of excitement that you bring to the song and to the stage, that will win them over versus doing a bunch of vocal theatrics.
TVLINE | I found it a little surprising that someone your age would get to the Knockout Rounds and pick “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You,” a ballad that’s more than 20 years old. Had you ever sung it before? What was your reason for choosing it?
Honestly, I had never sung that song before. My mindset was like, “Hey, you know what, let’s do something that the people wouldn’t really envision me doing.” And then it was, “Hey, let’s try this Bryan Adams tune.” I listened to the record and it coincided with everything that I was going through.
TVLINE | And then you ended up with another older ballad when you got to the live playoffs. Did you have any hesitancy about “Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)”? And were you aware of the history that it’s one of the most covered songs ever in American Idol history and had also been done in Seasons 2 and 3 of The Voice by Jermaine Paul and Trevin Hunte?
You know what, honestly bro, when I heard the song, I was like, “Okay. Good song.” I don’t watch Idol. I haven’t watched Idol in…I’m not sure the last time I watched. The Voice, I watched Season 3, but I didn’t watch it all the way through. People told me after I was done that Trevin Hunte had performed it [last year]. I was like, “Oh wow, I didn’t know that.” And it’s a good thing that I didn’t, because if I had known that going on stage my confidence would have been thrown off.
TVLINE | Do you think Usher chose Michael Jackson’s “Rock With You” for your final week on the show as a way to switch up the tempo after back-to-back ballads?
It was just something that Usher pulled out of the air, and I was happy with it simply because I’m a performer and I thought, “Let’s get out here, let’s have fun, let’s entertain people, let’s see what happens.” Plus, it was an honor because it was the first time anybody ever was able to do a Michael Jackson song on The Voice.
TVLINE | What’s next for you?
I feel like this is a situation where once you’re off The Voice, everybody is like, “Hey, I’m still going to support you forever, this and that.” You want to make them happy by giving them new things. For me, I’m going to get back home to Atlanta, I’m going to get in the studio right away. I’m going work with a bunch of producers, try to develop a sound that is uniquely mine. I want to try to work on my album and start releasing singles within the next month or two.