When we last left Troy Ramey on NBC’s “The Voice,” he was about to perform in the Knockout Round, in which team members compete against one another while singing solo.
His performance, which gave the song “Chandelier,” by Sia, new life, was a big success. The song is difficult because of its high notes, but Ramey managed to rework the melody to fit his deeper voice. “It was an interesting choice that I made to sing ‘Chandelier,’” said Ramey, 32, of Sea Cliff. “All the songs I had been singing were old school, and I didn’t want to get put in a box and labeled as a non-relevant artist because I was singing songs from the previous generation.”
His choice appears to have been the right one. Soon after his performance, which aired on April 10, his cover of “Chandelier” hit No. 7 on the iTunes rock chart.
“The Voice” offers talented vocalists an opportunity to compete for a recording contract. Ramey’s success on the program, and on iTunes, were indications that he was one step closer to realizing that dream.
Following his win in the Knockouts, he became part of the Top 24, so he flew back out to California to prepare for the next part of the show — the Live Playoffs. His coach, Gwen Stefani, choose the song “A Case of You,” by Joni Mitchell, for him to sing in the playoffs. It was challenging, he said, because it isn’t a sing-along song. Rather, it’s more like poetry.
Interestingly, Ramey said that his late father was a huge Joni Mitchell fan. He recalled a family vacation that involved the singer-songwriter. “My dad was forcing us to watch this Joni Mitchell tribute concert, and we hated it,” he said. “He was saying, ‘One day, you’ll learn she was the best songwriter,’ and the fact that Gwen picked that for me was a cool moment.”
The song was special in more than one way. When Ramey performed it, on the Live Playoffs on April 18, he made the show’s Top 12, which he said is all he ever wanted from the experience.
Then his schedule grew extra crazy. Red carpets, rehearsals, recording sessions, interviews and wardrobe fittings filled every free moment he had. It had all sounded like a lot of fun before he was actually immersed in it. The overloaded schedule gave him a glimpse into the lives of top performers, and it was definitely not easy.
“You sleep whenever you get a chance,” Ramey said. “It’s stressful when you’re expected to perform at a really high level and you’re not getting much sleep.”
He has acknowledged that his rise to popularity on the show was not without problems. Rehearsing his songs, he found that working with Stefani could be a challenge. “[She] and I approach music in a different way,” he explained. “She’s strict about keeping the original melody, and I’m the total opposite of that, so it was kind of difficult in some respects to try to make her happy all the time, because I sing a certain way that fits my voice.”
And “Chandelier,” he said, was a song about which they especially disagreed.
Nonetheless, Ramey said, he has “nothing but love” for Stefani. “I’d listen to her advice and do my best to make her proud,” he said, “but ultimately, what’s going to come out of my mouth is what feels the best and what will sound the best.”
“The Voice” does a good job of ensuring that everyone is fully prepared to perform, he added. The singers practice with the band and music director multiple times, in addition to rehearsing on their own. And a contestant’s time with the four coaches can range from a half hour to two hours. “Everyone on the show is so talented, they make it look easy,” Ramey said.
He picked “Free Fallin,’” by Tom Petty, to sing next. Shania Twain was his adviser for the round. Like Celine Dion, an earlier adviser, Twain connected with Ramey’s voice and singing style. “She told me, ‘You have to do whatever is natural, because people will believe it,’” he recalled.
But Ramey didn’t go with the original version of “Free Fallin,’” asking to sing John Mayer’s version of the song instead. He also asked to play guitar. “I picked ‘Free Fallin’ because I fell in love with the John Mayer song — it’s beautiful, and he totally changed it,” Ramey explained.
His unique cover of the song reached No. 1 on the iTunes rock chart, but it was his last performance on “The Voice.” On April 24, the audience chose Mark Isaiah, 19, to move on to the next round instead of Ramey.
“I can’t imagine going out a better way,” Ramey said. “I literally went out on top.”
The following morning, he was on a plane back home, but to his surprise, the passengers and flight attendants voiced their support for him. “I think I underestimated how many people watch the show,” he said.
Ramey has received congratulatory messages ever since, but he hasn’t let the recognition go to his head. “People have been telling me I’m inspiring them to follow their dreams because I’m 32 and I quit my job to do music and then go on ‘The Voice,’” he said. “It’s a cool feeling to be the focus of that energy, because if I got anything out of this whole experience, it’s that you can always get what you want if you work hard for it.”
He realizes that “The Voice” isn’t a path that is appropriate for every singer. “If this opportunity happened to me three years ago,” he said, “I wouldn’t have made it because I wasn’t ready.”
For now, Ramey is waiting for the show to end for this season, because that’s when he can release his new music. “I have some of the best songs I think I’ve ever written ready to go,” he said.
He plans to continue touring this summer, and play as many shows as possible. In the long term, he wants to find a label that aligns with his goals and style of music.
“I’m really proud I was able to stick to my guns and do things the way I would normally do them with minimum compromise,” Ramey said. “The most valuable thing I realized was that being me is more important than anything else.”
For more information on Ramey, his career and upcoming tour dates, visit www.troy-music.com/.