Clinton Washington can count himself among an exclusive club of Baylor graduates and students who have been contestants on the music reality shows The Voice (NBC) and American Idol (Fox). Washington, a 26-year-old native of Little Rock, Ark. and a 2011 Baylor graduate, was eliminated on The Voice this past week after delighting the judges with two straight strong performances.
In the previous week’s “Battle Round,” Washington was asked to compete against and harmonize with a contestant who had turned all four judges’ chairs (only Christina Aguilera turned for Clinton), but he received kudos for his performance of Rhianna’s “Stay” from all the judges.
“Man, that was technically the best ‘Battle’ I’ve seen this season,” coach Pharrell Williams said. “I see two people who are so positive about what they want in life. Congratulations to both of you guys.”
“The original version of that song is simpler, and you guys elaborated a lot,” coach Adam Levine said. “It was a stylistic choice, but also executed in a really precise, amazing way. Clinton, I’ve got to be honest with you, man, like, I saw you get up here with India, and I was like, ‘Oh, man. Poor Clinton.’ But then, you proceeded to be, like, the male counterpart … of India.”
Aguilera ultimately chose Clinton’s opponent, but Levine “saved” Washington and pitted him against an original member of his team in the “Knockout Round” on March 23. Washington’s fans — and a few sites that track the music-reality show — felt that Levine’s decision to pick the other singer was the wrong one.
Line Notes caught up with Washington shortly after the March 23 broadcast, which was part of the early rounds that were taped well in advance of airing.
What did you learn from your experience on The Voice? Anything specific from the coaching you received from Christina, Adam, or the celebrity judges? The most pivotal thing I learned through the experience was that I should be more confident and comfortable with my ability and musical endeavors. I had always been a bit nervous to take the leap to work in music because I was not sure exactly how to go about it. The journey seemed to have way too many unknowns and I just didn’t know if I had what it took to really make a go of it. After spending months involved in the Voice process and essentially being immersed in a music lifestyle, I realized it’s exactly what I wanted out of life. I was spending my days working on arrangements and vocal choices, which solidified how much I love this industry and want to keep pursuing it.
Did the decision surprise you? It absolutely did. I walked into the Knockout performance with my highest level of confidence to date. “Wanted” was a strong vocal choice — it allowed me to infuse my R&B inflections with a large range– and it allowed me to show a great performing ability – two things that a lot of Adam’s team did not have. I performed live and felt so great about what I had done – I gave the performance I had intended to give. Even after both of our performances, I still felt like it was mine to lose. Then, after hearing some of Adam’s comments — most of which didn’t make it to air — I realized it wasn’t going my way. I could tell he was going to stick with his original team, actual performances aside. Most surprising for me, though, was the perception on TV, ha. Let’s just say, I walked off that stage after both of our performances feeling really confident that I had given the stronger performance, but you may not have seen that on TV.
How did your Baylor experience impact your success on the show? Baylor is where I started. Before Baylor, I rarely ever sang in front of people because I wasn’t sure if I was any good. I began to work with friends in the piano rooms and at their apartments, taking baby steps to being more confident. By the end of my Baylor run, I was performing at After Dark with my roommate and on the Sing stage. I had come a long way in those four years.
How has the experience changed you? I had a lot of questions about my own ability, vocal presence, confidence in remembering lyrics and arrangements, and overall relevance in the industry. After having spent months involved in the process, a lot of these worries were washed away. Of course, I still continue to work on these insecurities, but I now realize that they are not substantial enough to keep me from making it a real pursuit. I came back to New York with a new sense of direction and confidence.
Tell me a bit about your “real job” in NYC. I actually quit about a month ago. I was sitting on my flight back to NYC from my elimination in LA and realized I couldn’t go back. I had lived this life being completely engulfed by something I loved and it just didn’t seem right to go back. I was working for a digital marketing agency that specializes in luxury brands (nylmedia.com). I was an account supervisor, being the face of the company for many of our clients. It was a wonderful job with amazing people, but I wanted to make a real go of this music thing, so I am.
Where do you go from here with your music? I am going to continue to record and produce music and cover videos. I will cultivate the fans I made through the show and leverage whatever I can out of the experience. I intend to meet with management, bookers, and agents to more solidify my musical structure. I joined the Voice because I really didn’t know how to navigate the music industry waters. I didn’t know how exactly to make the most out of all of my musical moves, and I didn’t seem to be making much headway. The Voice allowed me that structure to roadmap to make it big. But now having been eliminated too early to take full advantage of the structure, I am looking to stumble my way through, ha.
Clinton Washington can be found on Twitter as @ClintWashington.