Unlike some reality singing competitions, NBC’s The Voice has been inclusive of gay and lesbian contestants since its debut in 2011, and Season 4 is no different. This week we met Karina Iglesias and Michelle Chamuel, two out vocalists who you might have even heard of before. We interviewed Michelle back in 2010 when her band My Dear Disco (now called Ella Riot) and was readying to take the stage at Lollapalooza and Karina has been a fixture in the Miami music scene for several years.
Karina chose to go with a Melissa Etheridge song for her blind audition, changing a verse of “I’m the Only One” to Spanish, which she admits was in hopes to add some flavor that might inspire judge Shakira to turn her chair.
“Yes, actually singing a little bit of it in Spanish was definitely a strategy to get as many chair turns as possible,” Karina said. “I’m blessed that I was able to get Blake and Adam to turn around because that’s kind of what I envisioned in my mind when I find out — when I found out that I had a blind audition. And then it kind of dawned on me that maybe I should translate a little bit of it in Spanish to get her to turn around.”
Karina ultimately chose to go Team Adam, and explains her choice of Melissa Etheridge.
“I love Melissa Etheridge; I’m a big fan of hers,” she said. “I think it’s really hard for already out artists to make it big in this industry and she’s a big example of that. I mean, she’s a Grammy winner and I was so honored to be able to pay homage to her song and I love blues and rock ‘ roll and I love the edge of the song and I’m happy that I got chairs turned with that song.”
Because she’s a lesbian, Latina and has a raspy rock style, Karina has been compared to Season 1 runner-up Vicci Martinez, which Karina doesn’t mind.
“Yes, I’ve heard several comparisons to Vicci Martinez,” Karina said with a laugh. “You know, any comparison to an artist that’s out there doing their thing and an artist moreover that is very successful and that was successful and almost won the whole thing on the show is a good thing. You know, it’s a win/win for me when people are comparing me to other great artists. So, definitely, I welcome the comparisons and I’m flattered.”
Michelle Chamuel actually auditioned for The Voice last season, but didn’t make it through. Luckily this time around was a different story, as the out vocalist went with Katy Perry‘s “I Kissed a Girl” and chose to go with Usher as her coach.
“Well when I first got up there, honestly, I thought that — I was like, ‘If Adam turns early, I’m going to pick him,'” Michelle said during a Voice conference call. “And so did have this plan kind of put them they all started talking and it wasn’t really a logical thing that made me pick Usher, it was just a really intense clear gut feeling that it just — you know, it was, like, almost like a hand inside my gut pointing toward Usher just like a pull. And I was like, all right, I’m learning to trust myself and if I could ever hear that voice loud and clear it’s now. So, definitely a gut thing. I mean, he’s amazing. You can go wrong picking anybody up there but yes.”
Michelle is still singing as part of a band, too, but she said her bandmates don’t mind her going it on her own on The Voice.
“They are some of my best friends in the entire world and when we’re on the road I would eat — don’t judge me but sometimes a pack of sardines — they’re kind of fresher ones, they’re not really gross but they’re a great source of protein and calcium,” Michelle said. “Anyhow, so I go off and I would eat the sardines in a corner and I would wash my hands and face and come back and they be like Michelle did you go eat sardines. Oh, that’s disgusting. Oh, you’re gross. And anyhow, they all sent me pictures of sardine boxes, they were eating them while they watched The Voice, you know, in my honor and they said they were gross.”
This time around, Michelle said the auditions were a little less stressful, and between audition seasons she worked on developing herself as a solo artist.
“I think the whole concept of being here and it being a competition and getting judged and, you know, really getting one shot that’s very — if you have performance anxiety, which is something I do, the fact that you get one shot makes it all the worse,” she said. “So I just focused instead on being perfect on having fun and not sucking and being myself. So, (unintelligible) those three things it started to matter less what the outcome was and more how we felt and, you know, what kind of vibes I could generate for myself and the people around me. So that’s really what I’ve been focusing on so it’s been a lot more fun.”
The Voice airs Mondays and Tuesdays on NBC.