In late September, Season 13 of NBC’s “The Voice” premiered. All four judges, including Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Jennifer Hudson and Miley Cyrus, took their seat in their infamous red chairs, and blindly listened to singing hopefuls.
One audition that seemed to shock all four came during the first episode — it was Lansing’s own Lucas Holliday, 26. He performed a rendition of Maxwell’s “This Woman’s Work,” that was so powerful, Hudson turned in her chair right before the song ended, putting him on her team. However, when the rest of the judges turned their chair they were shocked to see that he was the man behind the voice.
“Where is the person that was singing,” judge Blake Shelton asked when he saw Holliday.
Many people are surprised when they see Holliday sing the type of music he does, and Holliday says he lives for that.
“I was definitely excited watching everyone’s reaction because I kind of feed off of that sense of surprise — being the guy you just don’t expect,” Holliday said in a press conference. “I’m very passionate about the music that I do and the music that I admire and listen to for a long time, and it’s just a blessing to be on that stage and to watch these people kind of try to figure this out — I live off of that.”
The most memorable moment of his audition came after, when Jennifer Hudson said they should sing something together. Right on stage, she and Holliday did a duet.
“The moment after was really the main part,” Holliday said. “I was just very happy to be able to sing along a little bit with a song I loved, and then she kind of just played with me and went along with it. I couldn’t be more grateful for that moment — honestly, there’s nothing like it.”
Originally auditioning in a private casting call, Holliday was contacted by a producer after they caught eye of a viral video of him singing at his Dollar General job.
“This is not my thing usually. You know, reality singing,” Holliday said. “And an audition is an audition, you have to take every chance you get, and I did it and here I am now. It is pretty crazy. Sometimes, I look back and I kind of try to press rewind a little bit in my head and it’s just weird to kind of re-watch it.”
Holliday is the lead vocalist for the Lansing based soul/funk rock band Tell Yo Mama. Recently, he had been forced to miss gigs, but Holliday said the band is encouraging him to take every opportunity he can.
“I just talked to my drummer recently, just kind of contemplating what’s next and the future and he always tells me if there’s an opportunity that comes up, to do it,” he said. “The work ahead could still lead to work for everybody, not just Lucas Holliday, but Tell Yo Mama as well.”
While Holliday may be accustomed to singing on stage, he said the process of getting ready for this performance was much different.
“Before going on there’s always a little piece of maybe nervousness or a little piece of, not necessarily anxiety, but just this feeling of, do as well as you can do no matter what,” Holliday said. “This particular situation was a little bit different because the music kicks in and you have to kind of step up the task. And I will say, once again, I kind of realized this is real. ‘I’m up here doing this right now.’”
Since Holliday and the band announced that he was going on the show, the entire Lansing community has shown their support. Debbie Wilson-Dunlap, a supporter of Holliday, says that she had some suspicions after not seeing him around town.
“I went to his work [and] he wasn't there. He was keeping such a low profile I kind of wondered if he wasn't up to something,” Wilson-Dunlap said. “I am rallying now to get groups together to get the whole town to support him.”
Lansing resident Ali Dean works at the Green Door Bar and Grill where his band has performed. She said she saw the band play for years and is proud of Holliday’s success.
“I think it’s really inspiring, I mean Lucas definitely deserves it,” Dean said. “He’s a really sweet guy and he’s really talented, so I hope it takes him far.”
Holliday isn’t the first Lansing resident to dawn The Voice stage. In 2015, Lansing singer Joshua Davis auditioned and was chosen by Maroon 5’s Adam Levine. Davis eventually would place third in the competition.
Dean is hoping Holiday’s appearance will have the same effect Davis’ did.
“I think very similarly to Josh Davis, it will be really great for the people of Lansing,” Dean said. “It will be something that we can all kind of come together on.”
For a long time, Lucas Holliday has been a figure in the community of Lansing and he is proud to take on a mentoring role.
“That’s something I’ve never ever expected. But, it’s also something that I think I kind of want … I’ve always had an advisor kind of mindset,” the singer said. “But, it’s interesting to be considered kind of like this inspiration, this ‘mentor by example.’ (It) is an amazing thing.”
Holliday recently made it through the Battle Rounds, but will still have to get past the Knockout Stage before making it to the Live Shows. He accredits the Lansing community for allowing him to pursue his dreams giving him a platform for becoming the artist he is today.
“I just want to thank Lansing for bringing me up, for giving me this level of understanding of hard work and the persistence of perseverance that I’ve seen so many people in this city display. That they continue to keep pushing, despite any hardships they're experiencing, despite any dark period in their lives, and that’s really what inspired me to never settle and always pursue my real passion,” Holliday said. “And now, more than ever, it’s coming in handy and so I just want to say, thank you.”