When gospel music singer Anthony Evans stepped out to croon the Marvin Gaye classic "What's Going On?" on NBC's The Voice (Mondays, 8/7c), he was nervous. Like every other contestant, he only had 90 seconds to impress the judges in his "blind audition," to convince one of them to push a red button that would send him through to the next round.
But Evans, already a professional artist with six albums under his belt, figured he really only had a little more than 10 seconds to make an impression—and the final 10 seconds at that. Because "What's Going On?" is so subdued, Evans held back on his "big voice" capabilities until the very end, when he cut loose. And then, about 10 seconds away from elimination, judge Christina Aguilera smacked her button, thus putting Evans on her team and buying him at least a couple more weeks on the show.
Evans, the son of popular pastor and author Tony Evans, says he's having a blast, and that it's a fun break from his normal gig as a gospel artist and worship leader. He wants to win, but says he wouldn't mind if someone else did instead. We spoke with him by phone from Los Angeles.
Why did you want to be on The Voice?
It was kind of random. Jeremy Camp and my drummer were at my house in Nashville over a year ago, and they were like "Anthony, just do it for fun. Why not?" So I just sent something in [to the show]. They saw a YouTube clip of me and called me for the first season, but I couldn't come because of other obligations. Then they called again last July and asked again, and I was like, "You know what, it's kind of a random opportunity, and
How did you end up choosing "What's Going On" for the song?
People who know me really well have been asking me that, because it just kind of felt like it wasn't me. But at The Voice, they let you be involved in the song choice, but there are a lot of cooks in the kitchen; it's a big machine. So we had to kind of go with what was corporately decided. You've just got to grab it and move on.
I'm not criticizing the choice; it's one of the greatest pop songs of all time. At least they didn't ask you to sing another Marvin Gaye song like "Sexual Healing" or "Let's Get It On"!
Exactly! But here's what I love about The Voice: They are real big into who you are and what your story is, and upholding the integrity of your story. So when they learned I was a pastor's kid, a Christian artist, they were like, "Okay, we are not going to set up you to look crazy or to lose your current supporters and fans. We are not that kind of show." I have a lot of respect for the producers of the show and Mark Burnett, the executive producer, because they're not trying to use this as gimmicks to get ratings.
The fact that Burnett himself is a Christian probably helps.
I did know that, because after my blind audition he came backstage to meet my dad. He was like, "Where is Tony Evans? Can I meet him?"
When you sang for the blind audition, you were only about 10 seconds away from being eliminated before Christina picked you. Were you sweating bullets as those seconds raced by?
Funny thing is, I knew that that was going to happen. Before I went on stage, I said to one of the producers "If somebody turns around it's not going to be till the last ten seconds of the song." Because it's a Marvin Gaye song, if I start singing like I know I can, they're probably not going to turn around because I overdid it. So I was like, "Okay, I'll sing in a key works where at the end I'll be singing like Anthony—the higher singing that I normally do." I knew they wouldn't respond until I did that, because it's such a laid-back song. It's weird to be given Marvin Gaye when you have a minute and thirty seconds to be intense, because Marvin Gaye is like the opposite of intensity. So it was a challenging moment. It was crazy.