Fans of NBC's The Voice will never forget the spunky soulful singer, Chevonne, who won the hearts of many even though she was eliminated. She competed on Team Cee Lo and was stolen by Christina Aguilera before her untimely elimination. But The Voice was not the start of Chevonne's singing career. She has also toured with both Estelle and Lady Gaga and even performed 'Born This Way' acapella at Madison Square Garden for an HBO special. Now the singer has launched a Kickstarter Campaign to get support for her studio album and we got the chance to chat with the future megastar about what we can expect from it.
How would you describe the sound and vibe of your album? It’s rock meets soul under a pop umbrella. I’m very influenced by classic, big 80s bands. I’m from Jersey so all the big hair, leggings, guitars- that’s what I grew up with. My dad turned me on to Van Halen early on, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, so that sticks with me. But I also love soul - I love Prince and Jimi Hendrix, so that vibe is also in the album. Everything is eclipsed by a very fun, dancey pop sound. It’s a lot like Cee Lo actually, except from a little girl from Jersey.
What’s the subject matter of some of your songs? I like to have fun with lyrics. Sometimes with the ballads I get very vulnerable and very emotional; everything I write is very confessional. In the up-tempo songs I just go crazy. There’s a song called ‘Ugly Boy’ and it’s about just being over boring, pretty boys. Pretty is over and ugly is in. I want to fall in love with someone ugly who’s going to be silly and crusty with me. Then there’s ‘Heels,’ where the chorus goes, “ain’t nothing like a man in heels,” which can go in multiple directions. If you’re a girl and you want to put on heels when you’re with your man or on the other hand, it’s an homage to the men in this world who wear heels on the regular. I don’t take myself too seriously, I like to play with fun, pop-y, silly concepts and make you think, but in a fun way. It’s very tongue-in-cheek and light-hearted.
Tell us a bit about your experience on The Voice. How did it help you to grow and learn as an artist? I spent so much time in the background singing with Lady Gaga and Estelle that I got really good at it – matching the pitches exactly, choreography, being sparkly but always keeping it back, so when I moved into the forefront it was hard at first. I had to figure out how much to do, how much could I get away with and in the beginning I really took it quite far and I was all over the stage doing backbends and power moves. I ended up losing my battle round because of that. Cee Lo said that he thinks I’m over-compensating because I’m nervous and I was doing a little too much and I had to exercise restraint at the right moments. I had to figure out a good balance between being really flambouyant and being subtle and tasteful. So I lost the battle round and Christina Aguilera stole me and that’s when I really thought about getting to that happy place in the middle. Being a solo artist is different than what I’m used to. Choosing the right cover song to perform was also something we had to learn on the show and I think through that I’ve finally learned my signature sound and signature look. The Voice is kind of like pop-star bootcamp. You take what you learn and become the popstar you’ve always wanted to be.
You’re no stranger to big stars, having gone on tour with Lady Gaga and Estelle, and being a contestant on The Voice. Is there one person you’d be really star-struck by? I think I would be very star-struck by Prince, as well as Bette Midler. Also Dave Grohl from the Foo Fighters (or all of the Foo Fighters). Those three bands/artists are my fangirl obsessions and working with any of them or even just meeting them – I would faint. When I first met Lady Gaga it was unreal. I’ve been a fan of Gaga since 2005/2006 when she had brown hair and a MySpace. Then all of a sudden I was seeing her everywhere and it was the same Gaga. Fast forward a few years later and I’m standing here talking to her and I just wondered, “how did I get here?” I was very star-struck by her.
So you’ve had experience with dancing on tours. Will we be seeing some moves in your music videos? When it comes to me, I’m not really a choreography girl. I was trained in jazz, tap, and ballet but I like more fluid, organic, in-the-moment moves. For my solo material, I’d prefer it to be more focused on the song and I feel like choreography takes away from the singing. I’ve worked so hard on my voice and I take pride in that. I want to stay voice-centric, but never say never!
Any plans to get into fashion? Of course. All I do while I’m in rest mode, my mind always goes back to fashion. I love looking at fashion websites and clicking through the runway collections. I wish that I had gone to fashion school after college and learned more about how to create fashion, but that’s something I could always go back to. I think that’s something that would come way down the line. I’ve created a lot of my own clothes –including my jean shorts I wore during my blind audition, which I’m auctioning off now. It's time to start a new chapter. I want to give them to someone else to inspire them and pass on the good luck. I believe in sharing and giving back and music is fueled by fans. It's not really about us, it's about how our music makes people feel.