Mason native and high school senior Michael Williams is making a name for himself as a contestant on NBC’s popular singing competition TV show The Voice. The 18-year-old’s impressive, airy falsetto landed him on the team of vocal coach Nick Jonas. After narrowly losing an intense battle round-duet with fellow Team Jonas contestant Allegra Miles on March 23, Jonas “saved” Williams from being eliminated. Later this month, Williams will compete in a four-way sing-off battle between the other coaches’ saved artists. Viewers will decide the winner, who will progress to the live shows level, meaning Williams could use some hometown support now more than ever. We caught up with Williams between rehearsals to chat about his passion for singing and his journey on The Voice.
When did you develop a passion for music and singing?
I actually come from a bit of a musical family. I have three brothers and a sister, and my mom has homeschooled all of us. I’m the youngest of five kids and this is my senior year of high school. Most of us started playing sports and piano from a very young age. My dad was a pastor of a church when I was younger, and my mom sang in the choir. She would always sing worship hymns around the house, so that’s where I first got exposed to music.
I would sing around the house all the time. When I was 6 years old, I asked my parents for singing lessons for Christmas and I think they were kind of surprised because they were like, What 6-year-old asks for singing lessons? That’s when it all started for me with getting coaching and lessons and that whole process. I always loved music, but that’s probably when the passion for it started.
Describe the process for getting an audition on The Voice. Has it always been a goal of yours to be on The Voice or a similar TV show competition?
I always thought one day I’d try out for a TV singing competition, because I grew up watching them. It was kind of like a dream to be a part of something that special. I was fortunate enough to be able to send in a video submission about a year ago when friend from church was going through the process and was like, Why don’t you try out too? I sent in the video submission and a little while later I got an email that said they wanted me to come to a callback in Louisville. That kind of kickstarted the whole process.
You sang “You Say” by Lauren Daigle for your blind audition. What does this song mean to you?
I was listening to Christian radio stations when I first heard that song. It’s super significant to me because I’ve grown up with Lauren Daigle as a Christian singer, and it’s super special to me to see her have so much success in the pop music industry. It’s become such an iconic song, so it was super special for me to sing it. The words are so uplifting; they talk about how God feels about us and how even in our worst times he sees the best in us. It’s just a very special song for me to be able to spread that encouragement.
Falsetto is a big part of your vocal style.
[My inspiration to sing in] Falsetto definitely comes from Sam Smith. I love Sam Smith and grew up listening to him. I try to mimic some of what he does with falsetto, because, how he sings, you can almost never tell when he switches to falsetto or when he goes to different parts of his voice. Another big influence is Michael Bublé. He influenced the lower part of my range to have the power to be able to do all those songs.
What’s it like to have Nick Jonas as a vocal coach on The Voice?
It’s been amazing, surreal, and such a dream come true. Nick came from a musical theater background as well, so to have that connection with him, in addition to the falsetto, just makes it so fun to work with somebody you can connect with. It’s also awesome to have him as a coach because he’s so thoughtful about how he gives notes to you. He’s always been portrayed as the serious Jonas brother, and he kind of lives up to it because he’s so thoughtful with his words. If he’s going to say something, that means he spent a lot of time in thought before he said it.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from him?
The best piece of advice I’ve gotten from Nick—and really all three of the Jonas brothers—is confidence. Confidence in knowing that you’re capable of what you’re doing onstage, and in being real and in the song. You can see in the show that Nick gives me advice on falsetto. In my first audition I was able to do falsetto and he really wants me to get better in that area. He gave me advice to smile while singing falsetto, which was really helpful to me because I was able to practice that leading up to the battles.
What does your experience on The Voice mean to you in your pursuit of music as a career?
The Voice has been a turning point in how I think about myself in the music industry. The fact that it’s given me so much more confidence as an artist and the ability to get to know myself as an artist and what I care about, how I want to sing, and what kind of songs I want to sing and present for people. I think The Voice has really helped me think about what’s important to me in music and also have the confidence to say, This is what I want to do with my life.
You work at King’s Island as a music performer. How has that role prepared you for The Voice?
I started at King’s Island last summer. I was able to be in their country show called “Country Flashback” in the fest house—it’s the cafeteria. We performed for people four times a day and they’d just be sitting down and eating and enjoying the show while they finished their meals, but it was an interesting way of performing because it was very family-friendly and you were interacting with the audience. Some days, people would be very excited [for us] to perform and some days they wouldn’t be that interested, since they were focused on eating or touring the park or whatever they were up to that day. It really prepared me to be able to be myself onstage and really perform to the best of my abilities even when the energy might not be there from the crowd and keep that energy up.
What has the hometown support been like as you’ve progressed on the show?
Wow! The support has been amazing from Cincinnati. I’ve done musical theater shows around the Mason area, so I know a lot of people from around town, and I’ve been getting so much feedback over social media, texts, and calls. It’s been kind of overwhelming; it’s been really great. My hometown means so much to me; it’s where I’ve grown up and have had some of the best years of my life. I’d like to say, Thank you and I love you to my hometown, and let’s keep moving forward. I appreciate the support so much; now let’s try to win this thing!