NBC’s “The Voice” Finalist Fears Nothing

Friday, November 18, 2011 15:53

An Interview with Beverly McClellan

by: Casey Pukl

There are just some people in the world that are easy to talk to. They’re open, honest, and confident in who they are and what they put out into the universe. That’s Beverly McClellan, and after our interview, I’m pretty sure we’re BFF’s. No, seriously. She’s that fun to talk to! Widely known for her time on NBC’s show, “The Voice,” McClellan quickly captivated audiences with her soul-shaking vocals, honest sense of humor, and energetic performances. With twenty years of experience under her belt in the South Florida music scene, McClellan gained the exposure she needed to take her already successful career to the next level.

I was fortunate enough to speak with Beverly this morning. I had all intentions of asking her a ton of questions, but instead, we wound up having a great conversation about everything from her recent writing session with Keb’ Mo’ to her tattoos, her discovery of Nina Simone, and her love affair with her van.

Oh, and then there’s her latest record that drops NEXT WEEK! Fear Nothing is the sixth release for McClellan, and she couldn’t be more excited for everyone to have a copy.

CP: I want to thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me this morning. I was a huge fan of yours on the show, and I’m so looking forward to your latest record. 

BM: Thank you so much. It’s always so cool to hear that— having people come up to me and say they like my music is so awesome. The universe is good to me.

CP: Absolutely. So tell me a little bit about this latest record! I heard a little snippit of a collaboration with Keb’ Mo’ this morning. How did that come about?

BM: It was so random. My manager asked me one day if there was anyone I wanted to write with. I’ve always really written on my own, so it was something totally new to me. So I just out of the blue said that I wanted to write with Keb’, and she was like, “Are you serious? I know him!” So I turned to her and was like, “Call him!” So she really set it up. It was so random, I actually found him on Pandora one day, and then I made a Keb’ Mo’ station, and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since. My manager was excited and she knew it would be a good fit— she thought we would really get along, and we totally hit it off.

CP: That’s awesome! What was the writing process like? 

BM: We really just connected, and the song just drove itself. We actually had to make extra time to record it because it just came out so organically, and we were just meeting to see what happened. We sat down and were just piddling around and talking, and he started playing this thing. I was like, “Hey, what’s that? I like that!” Before we knew it, it just happened. It was really organic— with me it has to be. I can’t just sit down and force myself to write something. I have to feel it. It was crazy how easily it came, especially since I had never really written with anyone else. I think the universe really put us together. I’m sure that won’t be the last time we write together. It’s something I’m just so proud to put out there.

CP: Sounds like a fantastic way to make a record.

BM: Oh yeah. The whole thing just came together so perfectly. And working with Bruce on “Lyin’ to,” was the same way. He just came in and slapped this nasty old upright piano on that. It was just awesome. The whole band was just incredible. You know, I was playing with this band that has played with all of my idols, and it was just crazy that they were vibing with me. They play with so many incredible people, and here they are feeling the vibe with me! It made for a really heartfelt album. The album is something you can just play. You don’t have to be in the mood— it’ll put you in the mood, you know what I mean? (Laughs)

CP: Absolutely. There are just some albums you can always listen to.

BM: Exactly. Like James Taylor— I’m never not in the mood to listen to him. There are just some things you can put on anytime. You can listen to them driving in the car, cleaning the house, whatever! That’s the kind of music I hope to make.

CP: Well, from the preview of the record I heard, it certainly sounds like it.

BM: Oh, thank you! Yeah, I’m just so excited for people to have the album in their hands. They can pre-order on Amazon and iTunes right now, and it’s just so close to the date that I’m really amped. 

CP: I’m really stoked to get it from you when you get here!

BM: Oh hell yeah! Sometimes I think seeing the show and getting the album there is better.

CP: Always. That’s usually what I like to do.

BM: Me too. The show should make me want to buy the record. Like Coldplay— I’m a huge Coldplay fan. I absolutely love them. So I went to see their show, and I was in the fifth row or something. It was ridiculous. The show was so amazing, and I bought the album on the way out. It’s just different after you’ve lived the show. That’s what I want to do. I want to transport everyone in that room to Beverly’s living room.

CP: This is definitely the venue to do that in. It’s good for intimate shows, but you can still rock out.

BM: Anywhere they’ve got power, I rock out! (laughs) 

CP: (Laughs) That’s awesome.

BM: That’s the awesome part of South Florida. You know, down here, we get hurricanes. Crazy storms that just take out all the power, and it’s just insane. The bars down here have generators to play music through.

CP: No way.

BM: Yeah! They actually hook up music to the generators so they can get rid of the food so it doesn’t go bad. It’ll be crazy outside and no one has power, but the bar is open. South Florida is good for that. The show always goes on. Everyone is looking for something to do! I’ve been playing hooked up to a generator when there’s no power. It’s awesome.

CP: That does sound awesome! I love it.

BM: It’s cool. I love it down here.

CP: Now, aren’t you originally from East Tennessee?

BM: I was born there because there wasn’t a hospital in my hometown. Go figure, we’ve got 5 churches, one stop light, and no hospital. (Laughs) But I’m really from Virginia.

CP: (Laughs) Funny how that happens. So tell me a little bit about who inspired you to start.

BM: My mom and my grandma definitely. My mom played piano, and they definitely really inspired me to get started. From the time I started singing, I knew it was what I wanted to do forever. I came from this small town, and I got so lucky. I mean, I really feel like Dolly Parton. If she could do it, so could I, you know? Hard work pays off in the end. At 42, I’m making it happen.

CP: What? You mean you’re not 25?

BM: (Laughs) No, I was the oldest contestant on the show! My youngest teammate on the show was 16 and she called me “Uncle Bev”!

CP: You look so young! 

BM: I guess I’ve got good genes.  I stay out of the sun. My tattoos are my tan (laughs).

CP: Yes, you do have some killer tattoos by the way. It looked like you acquired a new one during the course of the show too- was it a bird?

BM: It’s my peacock. I actually got a few tattoos during the show, because it was a major event in my life. I like to celebrate them and remember with tattoos. But yeah, I got a peacock around my microphone because NBC changed my life. I also got the chest piece that’s actually my album cover, right before the live shows.

CP: I love that one by the way. I have total tattoo envy from that album cover.

BM: Yeah, I love that piece. I got it because I just thought, “I have to go into this fearing nothing.” That’s what it’s all about for me.

CP: Going back to the album for a minute, tell me about the songs. Did you write them after the show, or did you have some before?

BM: I actually wrote most of the album while I was on the show. I actually wrote “I Can’t Hide Me” the day I got home from the Miami interview to be on the show. I came home from the interview, and it just came out. The one song that I had before the show was from my first album, but you can’t get that anymore. So I took “Precious Times” from that. It was originally just an acoustic recording, and now the song is just on a different level.

CP: Who have you been listening to lately that you really dig?

BM: I am absolutely addicted to that Foster The People song, “Pumped Up Kicks.” It’s such a good song. I’m also a big Florence and the Machine Fan. Ooh, and Adele. Oh my god, that song “Set Fire to the Rain,” is just incredible.

CP: That has to be one of my favorite songs I’ve ever heard.

BM: It’s just one of those songs that kills you. I have got to do that song with her at some point.

CP: That would be incredible.

BM: It would be. I would love that. I just got a new sound system in my van, and I made a playlist of my favorite songs, and it sounded so good in my van!

CP: Is the van your new place to listen?

BM: I’ve always listened to music in the van. You’d never know it was me in the van though- I love to thug out. I love Missy Elliott and Eminem and all of that.

CP: Are there any crazy artists you’d love to work with?

BM: I tell you what, Snoop Dogg better holler at me. I would absolutely love to work with him!

CP: I’m pretty sure the world would explode. That would be so awesome.

BM: (Laughs) It would be pretty crazy. But there’s room for it. I love that I can make my music on my albums, but there’s room to step out and do singles with other people. I also want to work with Miranda (Lambert) and Gretchen Wilson! I love so much different music. 

CP: I feel like all of the musicians I talk to have such an eclectic mix of stuff they listen to.

BM: Definitely. I’m all over the place. I’ll go from Snoop to Ravi Shankar. It’s crazy. Music is universal. That’s what’s awesome. Bob Marley really had it right with “One Love.” I want to have that universal appeal. You can listen to my music if you’re four or ninety-four. That’s what’s awesome about it. “One Love”.

Special thanks to Beverly for her time. It was such a blast chatting with her. Don’t miss her show, and be sure to pick up her record when it drops next week! You can pre-order it at the links below!


WHAT: Beverly McClellan
WHEN: Friday, November 25, 2011, 9:30pm
TICKETS: $10-$39 Buy Tickets
MORE INFO: Artist Profile