EXCLUSIVE: Interview With Gwen Sebastian
We were lucky enough to get a call from current Team Blake Shelton member Gwen Sebastian earlier this morning. Gwen captured America’s attention with her stunning performance of Sugarland‘s “Stay” on The Voice, earning a spot on Team Blake. While fans might not know much about the bubbly, friendly woman there’s something they should – she’s talented, down-to-earth, and she released her first EP last year!
We discussed how she’s gotten to know Blake, what kind of artist she sees herself as, what other reality competitions she had previously tried out for, and how hard it was to keep her secret from her family and friends! Get to know Gwen and cheer her on in the future episodes of The Voice.
The Voice airs weekly on NBC on Monday nights at 8 pm EST.
What was it about The Voice that made you want to try out, and is it the first time you’ve auditioned for a show like it?
I watched The Voice last year and I loved the concept. I thought it really was a cool way to discover talent – base it on their voice. To me, that’s what it’s all about and I loved that idea. I had auditioned before for Nashville Star years ago, I can’t remember exactly when, and then my band and I popped in on a whim in Georgia for an America’s Got Talent audition. We literally found out it was happening that day while we were going through and thought “hey, let’s do this for the heck of it!”. Obviously, it didn’t work out for us (laughs).
Have you had the chance yet to really get to know Blake? Has he given you any great advice?
I have gotten to chat with Blake and he is exactly what you think – what you see on television is exactly how he is. He doesn’t put up a front, he’s a real guy, down to earth, very caring, extremely funny – his sarcasm on his Twitter and everything is exactly how he is. You know, his advice is just to stay true to who I am and don’t change, and to never be afraid to do that. I grew up with country music, I like all genres of music, so obviously when I perform I have different elements to my show but my heart is country. I wanted to do that on the show and I wanted to be on his team because I think he has one of the greatest voices in country music right now. I wanted him to really bring that out in me, so he’s given me some really great advice that way.
Were you nervous about performing in front of all four coaches, or were you more excited?
(Laughs) it was both! I’d say it was more nerves though, I’d never been more nervous in my life. Right prior to getting right on the stage I kind of had an out-of-body experience. When I got on the stage it was really silent and I’m not used to that, I’m used to a bunch of music on in the background and things like that. It was a different experience for me. When I got up there I knew what I wanted to do. I didn’t want to sing the song like an audition, I wanted to sing the song like it was any other performance and to have the crowd connect with that song.
Was it hard to keep it to yourself that you made Team Blake?
Oh my God! It was the hardest thing ever, the biggest secret I’ve ever kept. We auditioned in October, and that’s a long time since that. It was harder right away, but as the months came by it got easier and then it got kind of fun because my family “what happened? what happened?” and I’d be like “stay tuned, I auditioned for The Voice!”. The main part of the show is that element of surprise. It’s really what draws people in to watch it, and I wanted my family and friends who knew me to get to experience that.
I felt like if I told one person I’d have to tell everybody. There’s a lot of friends and family that I’m really close to. It was tell nobody or tell them all.
So, if Blake didn’t turn his chair around for you… who would you have picked?
Well I would have picked Adam! I would have picked Adam Levine, he would have been my second choice.
How would you describe yourself as an artist for fans who are just starting to get to know you?
I want to stay true to my roots in country, but I’m down-to-earth and feel like I’m really approachable and I want to keep that. I want to be real, and to also encompass the different genres of music that I listened to growing up: Joan Jett and even Madonna. I want all of that to come through, even though I want everything to be uniquely mine.
Obviously, I know you’re a Sugarland fan, but who else would you consider to be your influences?
Definitely my parents because that’s who I grew up listening to and singing with. Dolly Parton, Patty Loveless, Reba McEntire, Don Williams, Michael Jackson, lots of inspiration that’s for sure. I find myself being drawn to entertainers, not just singers. I love, love, love the element of a great show.
Last year you released your first EP. What was it like finally getting it out there?
It was a dream come true! I always wanted to be able to record music and to go in and do that, and to release something that was my own. I was really excited about it. I got to make a video as well for my song “V.I.P.” which I wrote about growing up in North Dakota. I was really happy to be able to share my story in music.
What I’ve noticed is that you’ve been really great at connecting with your fans on Twitter…
Oh good! I’m glad that you think that, I really love doing that! To me it’s the most important thing. If I don’t reply, it’s because there’s quite a few Tweets – I think after the show I went up by 5,000 followers within an hour. I couldn’t believe it. So, if I don’t reply to you it doesn’t mean that I don’t love ya.
Have you had a chance to sit back and reflect on everything yet or is it all still a blur?
No, I have! I have had a chance to think about it and I do realize what an opportunity it is. A lot of people would have never had this chance to be on a show like this, to be in front of some of the most amazing current artists. Now, I’m on Team Blake and who would have thought 15 years ago when I moved to Nashville that this is how I would be known to be successful. To me, success isn’t measured by being famous or being rich; it’s doing what you love to do. Now I have more of a platform to do this because of this show.
What’s the number one thing you hope fans get from you while you’re on The Voice?
I hope they realize that I’m just a normal girl from North Dakota who had a dream that’s come true.
You were pretty emotional after your blind audition. Is it still hard to believe you’re really on Team Blake?
(laughs) Yes. Totally hard to believe. I don’t think I’ll ever believe it, to be honest with you (laughs). It’s one of those things that I would love to relive every minute of my day. Spoil me after the fact though, I don’t want to get up there and be nervous when I have to sing.
If you could record a duet with any artist who would it be?
That was easy!
(laughs). Yep, Blake Shelton. You know what, I’m a Don Henley fan too. I don’t know if your readers will know who he is, he’s from The Eagles.
If you could tour with any artist…
I guess I’d have to say Blake again. He’s one of the biggest out there, so I’m gonna say Blake. Then I’m gonna go completely weird and go crazy and say Lady Gaga. (laughs!) Wouldn’t that be crazy? Wouldn’t you love to just go backstage and see what’s going on?
What would you consider to be your favorite album and favorite song of all-time?
My favorite song of all-time would be “Neon Moon.” Wait! You know what.. that one or “Don’t Dream It’s Over.” It’s the sad ones, you know? For album it’s Guns N’ Roses‘ “Appetite For Destruction.”
I read that you did nursing school before you went to Nashville. How hard of a decision was that to make?
It wasn’t hard at all to be honest with you. I went to college, I went for five years and didn’t get a degree, but got accepted into nursing school. The first semester of nursing school was pretty good, I made friends, but my Mom and I made a trip to Nashville for a music conference and I turned to her and said “Mom, this is where I want to move to.”
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