The Voice Australia grand finale airs on Channel 7 this Sunday!
This Sunday evening, The Voice Australia will crown it's new winner. Finalists Charlie Pittman, Ethan Beckton, Ezra Williams and Tarryn Stokes will compete for Australia's votes to receive a recording contract with Universal Music Australia and prize of $100,000. We caught up with all four finalists to chat about their journey throughout the competition...
The top four worked with a bevy of high profile songwriters and producers on their respective winners singles, which were selected in collaboration with each artist. Pittman worked on his song, Stone Cold, with Robby De Sa and Ned Houston, Beckton's single, Lighthouse, was produced by Michael Fatkin, Williams powerhouse track, Mistakes, was produced by Msquared, and Stokes' teamed up with Chris Arnott on her single, Nobody.
Voting is now open now! Tune in to the grand finale, 7pm AEST on Channel 7 this Sunday.
Let’s take it back to the beginning. Can you tell me what drew you to wanting to audition for The Voice Australia?
EZRA WILLIAMS: I think it was definitely a huge risk for me to audition because you know, it is a world renowned singing show. So I thought that if I took that huge leap and put my name forward, I guess I wanted to challenge myself and grow. Because the whole thing is about, you know, turning a chair, I was just like how cool would that be if I did potentially turn a chair. So I think it was mainly about challenging myself.
TARRYN STOKES: Well, I actually got approached. You know how sometimes they'll approach people or like ask around and see if there's anything that someone knows. So one of my friends kind of was like, 'oh, someone asked me if I knew any singers that might wanna go on The Voice, and I put your name forward. Is that okay?' And I was like, 'oh, okay, well alright, I'll give it a go.' So it was kind of more like that and then they just wanted to have a chat and an audition, like an early audition and just see how I go. Once I went and met everyone, they were just so, like all the producers and everyone behind the scenes, they wanted to just [get-to] know you, like, know me, who I am, and were really easygoing. I was just really taking one step at a time. I wasn't thinking too far in the future. But then yep, here I am.
ETHAN BECKTON: I just feel like it just the right time in my life to take that next step, I guess, and just start really pursuing what I wanted to do.
CHARLIE PITTMAN: It was interesting. I was in Australia at the time on holiday when I was with my dad and my auntie and they said I should audition for The Voice. I kind of half filled out an application, not expecting anything, and then kind of forgot about it. Then I kind of got the call that they wanted to see me and did some zooms and stuff. And then basically my dad passed away about a month before I then did my blind audition mm-hmm. So it really was just a real driving force for going over to Australia and then trying to sort of reconnect with him. But also I've been trying to be an artist for the last few years and started to work other jobs as well. So doing The Voice, it's just a way to sort of try and get my music in front of a large audience and set up a fan base in Australia.
What was that experience like for you Ethan? Returning to a foreign country and jumping into such an intense situation and production whilst also processing your own grief?
EB: Yeah, it was actually amazing. Probably the best thing for me in terms of trying to deal with my grief but also make something out of it as well. It was the best thing I could have asked for and I was so lucky that I met so many incredible people doing the show, both in production, the coaches, the other cast members, et cetera, all the other artists I met. It was yeah, absolutely incredible experience. Probably the best experience of my life, to be honest.
As someone who had never auditioned for The Voice Australia, what is that moment like when the chair turns Ezra? What emotion runs through you?
EW: Oh, gosh. All emotions. You are excited. You are nervous. You are scared of what will happen from there on? It feels surreal. I think once that first [chair] turned, It actually clicked that I was doing it. I was actually doing those blind auditions that I've only seen on TV or I've only seen on YouTube. But I think when it did happen, it was almost like an out of body experience.
There’s so many fun stages to The Voice Australia, from the blinds to the grand finale. What has been your personal favourite moment throughout the whole process?
EW: I think my favourite moment was probably... There's so many, but the one that came to my head right now was probably when they surprised me with my mum coming into our mentoring session - mine and Jess's mentoring session. I had no idea that they flew her in and I think that moment was very special. I think another moment was just meeting all the other contestants, and the last one is singing with Jess at the grand finale.
TS: I think that actually what's coming up is probably my favourite moment - the grand finale. So can't say too much. But I love the whole process. I think getting to the grand finale just kind of meant that, you know, there's nothing else I could have done. It's obviously up to the people to vote, so really all I need to do now is just have fun. So I think I kind of let my hair down a little bit and just kind of just really enjoyed the process. Because it wasn't like, 'oh, am I going home tomorrow?' Because we were all going home tomorrow kind of thing [laughs]>. I loved like the camaraderie we had all together with the other top four and all the contestants. That was like such a dream. I love the song that I'm singing and the song that I got to sing with Rita as well. So yeah, I'm looking forward to seeing it on Sunday.
EB: I'd say just meeting everyone really and just meeting all the coaches and experiencing it all. Yeah, experiencing it all, to be honest.
CP: I think one of the moments was the semifinal, doing Take On Me about six meters off the floor in a full on set production thing was just a crazy experience. Just seeing that for the first time and saying, 'you're going up there.' I was thinking, that's crazy. But, also in the final Guy and I duet and we do Torn together and he's playing a couple of keyboards and I'm playing a drum pad and the electric guitar at the same time. We're just having a jam on stage and that feels like a proper musician's dream. I think that's gonna be a really exciting one for the audience to see.
What's it been like building these relationships with your fellow contestants? Obviously you're all going through such a specific situation that really only your fellow top twelve contestants will ever really understand.
TS: Yeah, it's amazing actually. I didn't really think about that side of it with the blind auditions. I got to know a few people behind stage, like straight away. I'm a mum and they were mums as well so we just kind of had that connection straight away. But then once we kind of started doing round by rounds, I got to know all sorts of people, which I love, like younger people because I'm, you know, I'm a little bit older, so everyone just felt like friends. I'm not even just saying that, I'm not even joking. You would think there's all sorts of diva people, but I was just really amazed at the connections. You just see this thing that you can't really, exactly what you're saying, you can't really explain and you then get that bond. We're in a group chat at the moment with quite a lot of them, mostly the Melbourne crew. So that's been just amazing to just chat about things or even like chat about when someone comments negatively about you or whatever. We're all in the same boat and everyone's getting negative comments as well as some great ones, like lots of great ones as well. So yeah, it's been amazing to do that with people who understand.
CP: It's an interesting one where, you know, when we were filming the show, we were all staying in the same hotel and it's an interesting dynamic where you get really close to these people, but it is a competition as well. So it's one of those things that never really felt like a competition. We were always there for each other and you knew that, you know, it's very hard to compare artists when people do such different things. So, you know, all you could do is what you do and trust that stuff. But it was amazing getting to meet so many other artists and there were quite a few artists I ended up writing songs with whilst we were sort of doing the show, which is amazing. I can keep these connections past the show as well.
Tarryn, you mentioned there with coming on the show, you're susceptible to criticism, but you also get the love. How have you gone about navigating that going from zero to a hundred so quickly, in terms of like the attention placed upon you?
TS: It's weird. It has happened really quickly, especially now getting to the top four. The attention's obviously focused more on us, so that's been a big change. I think with the first round with the blinds, there was just a few people saying a few things, and I thought it was a bit funny. Someone said they didn't like my outfit and all that stuff, and I was like, 'oh, well.' Someone said, 'you could tell she's got that from Big W,' and I wrote back, 'oh my gosh, actually I got that from from Dottie.' [Laughs] I thought, 'oh, this is a bit fun.' Then after the next couple of rounds, because it was more competitive, like you're singing against other people, [the comments] started to get a bit nasty. I started to think this is not so funny anymore. They're not being nice. Yeah. So I just kind of like really work it all out and just get a little bit of thick skin and go, 'okay, this is not personal. This is just because you're in the spotlight at the moment and people just are passionate so theyput their opinions online.' So I just ignored it a bit more after that.
The Voice Australia is home to some incredible coaches, Jessica Mauboy, Guy Sebastian, Rita Ora and Jason Derulo. Both Jess and Guy have had the experience of competing on a singing program and have gone on to have these wonderfully acclaimed careers. Ezra and Charlie; what has been the most valuable lesson you've learnt from Jess and Guy respectively?
EW: She gave me so much advice, but I think the one thing that I'll never forget was you have to just be yourself and that you bring something completely different to someone else. You are unique and no one can take that away from you, and that's your superpower. And you need to remind yourself that daily, that it's you up against you really. I think that's the main thing that I've kept in my heart.
CP: I think the biggest thing from him was him saying to me what you do is enough. I mean, there's so many big singers in the competition, especially on Team Guy. They can do incredible things with their voices and things that I can't do. There's notes I can't hit probably and he just said, 'look, what you do is authentically you and no one else can do it.' And I think it would've been easy to try and emulate someone else or copy someone else or try and compete with someone else. But I really just thought, 'you know what, this is what I do. If he likes it, he likes it. And if he doesn't, hey, I'm not gonna be everyone's cup of tea.' But yeah, luckily for me, he had that faith in me and thought I'm who he wanted to be his grand finalist. So, you know, I really couldn't have been happier with Guy.
Tarryn, you worked with Rita Ora who has had a great international career. What will you take away from your time together on The Voice Australia?
TS: I think for me, it was confidence. Rita is a confident performer and she has sang around the world, done amazing things. So that's something that I lacked and I don't even think I realised I could sing as well as people say that I do now. So I had to kind of step into that more than her kind of helping vocal ability, she was so like, 'oh, you just do...' she just let me be creative with everything vocally and just really helped me with just believing in myself and seeing myself as an artist.
This is Jason Derulo's first time in The Voice Australia coach chair, meaning you're on his inaugural team Ethan. What has been the best piece of advice you've received from him?
EB: I’d say probably the best pieces of advice he's given me is about opening up in my songs and just being vulnerable with it. To just let the people at home listening, and whoever's listening, to be able to relate to the story of the song and my story as well.
Your finalist singles Mistakes, Nobody, Lighthouse and Stone Cold are out now. All are such great songs. Tell me a bit about working on the song and what it means to you?
EW: I think what I like is Mistakes has a really strong message in it I feel like it can relate to anybody. I guess it shows a vulnerable side to me as well. That it's okay to make mistakes. We're all human and if you don't make mistakes, how are you gonna learn? How are you gonna grow? And that you don't always have to have it together, you don't always have to be perfect. There's no such thing as being perfect and I think mistakes make us who we are today. You know, you can make a small mistake, but then you're gonna learn from that and know what to do next time to do it better. I love the song.
TS: As soon as I finished the semi-finals, I walked off stage and someone from Universal said 'hi.' Like, I literally was still on the stage and they said come into this room and that they were gonna show me some songs. Nobody actually the first song that they showed me and I just was like, 'yep, I like it. Love it.' I was kind of ready to have feedback and like, not just jump at any song. I was ready to kind of be on the back foot and just be like, 'hang on, I don't like this about this, or I don't like this about this.' But as soon as I heard it, I was like, 'oh, I really like this. There's nothing I wanna say about it'. And it's after that I found out, like, the songwriters are incredible, you know? They're well versed songwriters. One of them wrote Genie in a Bottle all those years ago with Christina Aguilera. One of them's an actor as well as a Grammy award winning writer. I was like, that's probably why I had that reaction [laughs]. I can't really change anything of this song. It's awesome. I was really happy with this song, but then the more I thought about it - look, I'm in a healthy, stable, happy relationship [laughs], but it is a breakup. But I really connect with it because there's so many people and things in life that you just need to kind of walk away from because they're not serving you well. They're not good for you, they're toxic. So for me, it was just kind of like, I thought of it broadly, like, 'gosh, there's so many people that I had to just be like, you know what, you're not healthy for me. You're gaslighting me, or you are being narcissistic,' or whatever the scenario is. So I'm kind of singing it from that place to encourage everyone just to, you know, find your own voice and listen to your own voice and tune into that and speak up for yourself.
EB: Working on the song was great. The guys that I worked on Lighthouse with in the studio, they were amazing to work with. I guess the song means a lot to me, really. It's actually my first song that I've ever done with the Universal, so that's cool. The song, you can perceive it in any way you want really. It could be from your own perspective or a friend's perspective, but basically you're just being that lighthouse for other people to come to you and just be okay knowing that they've got you by their side kind of thing.
CP: It was a really cool experience actually with Stone Cold because I was actually able to co-write on the song, which I don't think has been done very much on The Voice. So we had about, I think 24 hours or 32 hours to get it all sort of approved before we then went in and recorded. But I worked on it with two Aussies, Robby De Sa and Ned Houston, who've got an incredible catalog of music. They're incredible writers. Robby's an amazing producer. But it was an amazing experience because we heard the original demo and it's such a different version to the demo now. We added some more guitars, added drums. It's just super collaborative and I'm super grateful to those guys for letting me write on it and let me put my stamp on it because that's a really important thing to me as an artist that I'm saying something as well and it's my message coming across.
I'm glad that you've all released your finale songs and we get to enjoy them all. How do you think a show like The Voice Australia can change the trajectory of an artists career, and how do you think it's done so for you so far?
EW: Ooh it can change real quick. I think as soon as you step on that stage, your whole life changes. Your whole perspective on even being on a live show, and singing as well, it changes. Your voice changes. I guess my voice has changed a lot, I've learned a lot about my voice. I've learned a lot about the way that I perform. I learnt a lot about reaching people that I know that I can reach and help with my voice. It's done a lot.
TS: I really think it does help because I've worked so hard over the years. I've been a musician all of my life. I've always sang, but I've never had the confidence, I guess, to step into being a solo artist and all that that takes. It really does take exposure in this day and age. You can work so hard, but if people don't know you, then it's hard to kind of get that out. And there's so many musicians and everyone can release a song now and everyone can, you know, use their platform. So yeah, it's really helped me. Like, I feel like I'm happy with where my voice is at and it's really helped me get it out there and people can see my work and what I do, and then hopefully have opportunities to continue singing.
EB: For me, it's given me a lot of drive to really go for it now. Before The Voice I always wanted to do music, but I just didn't have that drive. But The Voice has really given me that confidence and drive that I needed.
CP: I think even without going to the final yet, it's changed my life completely. I had about 3000 Instagram followers before, and no one would really know who I am, I always had to work a lot of different jobs. But now I've got over 30,000 followers and people stopping me in the streets. It's a crazy, crazy thing. But for me it was always about trying to create that network and that fan base so that I can then release new music and go on from that. Not just go on the show and leave it there. It was always just a place to sort of use as a platform.
You mentioned there it’s given you the drive you need Ethan, how do you think being involved in a production like The Voice has prepared you for your career going forward?
EB: I’ve never been in front of cameras or anything like that, so at the start it was a bit how you going [laughs] But now I've got quite a lot of experience with it, so I can go into the future knowing that I'm confident behind the camera and doing interviews as such and all the rest of it.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to audition for The Voice Australia in the future?
EW: I think I recommend The Voice to anyone that wants to give it a go. You gotta be ready, you have to also have a strong mentality because you are in front of cameras and you're singing in front of these huge global superstars. You have to be ready for that. But also have fun too.
TS: I would definitely say focus on what you can control and let go of what you can't control. Because there's a lot in this process that you can't control. Like, even the song choices is not your choice. What you're wearing isn't your choice. So you've just gotta trust the process, and trust the producers. They're actually for you. I think at the start you kind of think, 'okay, what do you want? You know, what do you want from me? What angle will you try?' I just realised after a while yes, they're a TV show so they have to get a certain, you know, a few things said, do you know what I mean? But really, they were really for me, and they believed in me and they just wanted to know who I was. They weren't trying to mould me into anyone else. So yeah, I would just say trust the process.
EB: Just go for it. Go pursue what you want to do. Go and live your dream that you've been chasing in your head and just don't look back.
CP: I'd encourage anyone else who's thinking about doing it to 100% give it a go and find a new fan base and launchpad if you will to get your music out there.
Whether you take out the title or not, what are your hopes for your career after the show?
EW: You know what's crazy? My goal was to go on tour [laughs]. And the opportunity, the door's already opened. I'm opening for Jess on her tour, the Yours Forever tour next year. So it's already happening. I'm still trying to process that.
TS: Look, to be honest I was just happy to get a gig - so this is a lot bigger. I've been a stay at home mum for four years, so out of the game. I think next up I would love to focus on Christmas. I love singing Christmas carols. I love Carols By Candlelight and all those things. I would love to do that and I would love to write and release my own music. I love the song that I released, but it'd also be great to co-write songs as well to have my stamp on things. So I think that's where I'd love to. But I feel like I wanna be a mix of a performer. I'm happy to sing other people's songs because I believe that that's a craft in itself for me to make it my own, and then also release my own music.
EB: Just keep releasing my own music and keep a fan base going and hopefully be playing shows. Just get my name out there and hope people like what I've got to say and like what I've got to sing.
CP: My hopes are that I can do music full time. That's like the dream, that I can come out of this and go, 'you know what, this is gonna be my job now.' I'm super excited to release new music. I want to tour, I want to travel the world with music and reach as many people as I can with the stories that I tell. I think that's a lot of artist's dreams, but it's definitely, definitely my dream as well.
CHARLIE PITTMAN - TEAM GUY
Charlie has faced a significant loss in his life with the recent passing of his father from terminal cancer. Before his dad’s passing, he encouraged Charlie to move to Australia and pursue his dreams of auditioning for The Voice. Honouring his father’s wishes, Charlie is determined to make his dream a reality. To support his music journey, Charlie works as a nanny, sharing his love for music with younger generations and teaching them the basics of musical instruments.
Stone Cold is out now!
ETHAN BECKTON - TEAM JASON
Ethan is a thrill-seeker who finds solace in exploring forest trails and conquering massive dirt jumps in his spare time. Despite recognizing the inherent challenges of this exhilarating sport, he came close to pursuing it professionally before discovering his true passion as a landscaper. Unwilling to be confined to a desk, Ethan thrives in the laid-back lifestyle of a tradesman. Surprisingly, he also possesses a hidden talent for singing and playing musical instruments, which he taught himself through online tutorials.
Lighthouse is out now!
EZRA WILLIAMS - TEAM JESS
Ezra Williams is determined to step out of her sisters’ shadows. Striving to carve her own path and emerge from the shadow of her successful sisters. With Emily Williams as the runner-up on Australian Idol in 2005 and a member of the renowned girl band Young Divas, alongside Jessica Mauboy, and Lavina’s stint on Australian Idol in 2006 and brief involvement with Young Divas, Ezra faces the challenge of forging her own identity amidst their achievements. Ezra, the youngest of five siblings, yearns to follow in the footsteps of her musical kin. On a mission to break free from expectations and create her own legacy in the music industry Ezra is hoping that she has what it takes to transcend make her mark as a powerful voice and representative for young Polynesian artists.
Mistakes is out now!
TARRYN STOKES - TEAM RITA
Tarryn’s music career had a promising start as a backup singer, but she made the difficult decision to step away from singing to prioritize her family. However, the break from music has taken a toll on Tarryn’s confidence, leaving her fearful of putting herself back out there. Now at the age of 40, she sees this as her last chance to pursue her dreams and is determined to overcome her fears as she takes the stage on The Voice.
Nobody is out now!
Voting is now open now! Tune in to the grand finale, 7pm AEST on Channel 7 this Sunday.