Louisiana continues to be heard on “The Voice” this season.
After five singers hailing from the state competed on the reality competition series’ eighth season last spring — with two making it to finale night — two more who call Louisiana home have made it on teams for season nine.
Denham Springs singer Tyler Dickerson joined Team Blake (Shelton), while Bayou Chicot native James Dupre picked Team Adam (Levine) during blind auditions airing over the last two weeks.
Battle rounds, which have the teams of 12 each for Shelton, Levine and returning judges Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams competing in elimination duets, started on Monday night’s show.
Second time around
At just 21, Dickerson has already done a stint in Nashville, Tennessee, in pursuit of a music career.
He began singing on stage at just 9, and was 13 when his family moved to Music City. Two years later, he was performing at the well-known Tootsie’s (Orchid Lounge) when John Rich of country duo Big & Rich caught his act.
“He said he wanted to work with me. He became my manager, publisher and producer,” Dickerson said. “We cut five songs in studio; the label was Lyric Street Records, the country label for Disney.”
But while on the road playing on Brooks and Dunn’s farewell tour in 2010, Dickerson got word that the label was shutting down. With no other record deal in sight, and a serious car accident, the young singer relocated to Denham Springs, where his family had previously moved. He joined the family business, C & S Fencing, but never stopped singing, performing with local bands, including Rockin’ Rouge.
“I was a huge fan of the show before, and what made me want to come on and do ‘The Voice’ is it’s so much different than any other singing competition reality show out there,” Dickerson said. “It holds a certain amount more of legitimacy to it. The blind auditions really attracted me because they can’t see you, all they can do is hear you sing, so it’s not like a beauty contest or anything like that, they’re judging it solely on your voice and your voice alone.”
His audition song, the Otis Redding original/The Black Crowes cover “Hard to Handle,” is one Dickerson said he’s been singing for years.
“It’s just an upbeat song that gets the audience into it, and I’m able to shine on my vocal ability on that song as far as hitting the high notes and stuff,” he said.
His singing encompasses many genres, among them rock and country. Country artist Shelton was the only coach to turn his chair around for Dickerson’s audition, signaling he wanted him for his team.
“I would have loved a four-chair turnaround, but I am so ecstatic that Blake turned around for me,” he said. “Even if all four would have turned around, Blake would have been the one that I would have chosen.
“I’m just really excited to see where everything goes from here, after the battle rounds and everything. I plan on riding this out as long as I can, staying on the show as long as possible, and hopefully getting discovered again, and getting another deal going, and getting back out on the road and doing what I love and what I was put on this Earth to do — to sing and entertain people.”
A winding path
James Dupre, 30, also has ended up in Nashville, with a few detours along his way.
A member of a Christian rock band JGS during college at the University of Louisiana-Monroe, Dupre realized he wanted to do music full-time.
“I decided I’d have to quit school and get a real job, because I was married at the time, and had a family to support,” Dupre said.
His four sons are now 9, 8, 7 and 5.
Since his father was a paramedic, Dupre said he thought that would be “a cool thing to do,” took paramedic training and joined Acadian Ambulance.
“After school was over, I had more free time, so I started putting YouTube videos up and writing a lot more,” he said. “It kind of just culminated over a few years. I started getting YouTube fans from all over the world, and it was really fascinating. I really didn’t expect it to snowball like that.”
In 2010, his first big break came when he was invited to perform on the “Ellen” show.
“She had found me from my YouTube videos. After that, I got a record deal, moved up to Nashville, and have just kind of been doing that since, and then I got on ‘The Voice.’”
Dupre, who also delves into many musical genres, settled on Hootie & the Blowfish’s “Let Her Cry” for his blind audition.
“I always just loved that type of music, early to mid ’90s, Matchbox 20, Hootie. It allowed me to show off my range, because that’s the idea in a blind audition,” he said.
All four coaches turned around while Dupre was singing.
“I was just doing my best not to pay attention to the chairs for fear of being thrown off. I didn’t want to forget lyrics and stuff,” he said. “The three chairs at once (Shelton would turn a little later), I think it gave me a little more confidence, a little more motivation.”
He eventually chose Levine as his coach, the Maroon 5 singer falling to the floor in delight.
“I’m still growing and still trying to find a sound that is my own and is unique. He (Levine) might pull me in a direction that I’ve never considered,” Dupre said. “It’s OK (on ‘The Voice’) if you’re not there yet. That’s why they’re called coaches and not judges.”