Unless you’re a Florida resident, chances are you first met Beverly McClellan on NBC’s new singing competition series The Voice when the openly gay singer belted out Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart.” McClellan, who impressed coaches Adam Levine and Christina Aguilera, has been performing at clubs in and bars around Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for nearly 20 years and has released five independent albums. After selecting Aguilera as her coach, the singer who plays 10 instruments, celebrated backstage with her partner and best friend.
AfterEllen.com caught up with McClellan to discuss the audition process, how the show helps LGBT artists and the Blake Shelton-GLAAD flap.
AfterEllen.com: How did you wind up on the show?
BM: I sent in a couple of YouTube videos. The next thing you know, I’m headed to Miami to audition.
AE: What songs did you sing?
BM: I sang renditions of my own thing with Gnarls Barkley. I did some Mary J. Blige and Akon, some Cream, the Crossroads, Eric Clapton.
AE: How did you wind up selecting Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart” to sing during your performance for the coaches?
BM: Actually, I was given that. I love Janis Joplin. That couldn’t have come out better.
AE: Both Adam Levine and Christina Aguilera wanted to work with you. How did you choose between the two?
BM: God, she turned her chair around for me! She believed in me. He did, too. I didn’t expect either one of them. If you don’t walk around in life expecting something, whatever you do get is awesome. She turned around first. Not only is she lovely but she has the voice of an angel. I thought that she could really me something — and so could Adam. But I like Christina’s style better.
AE: It was great seeing you react backstage with your partner and your best friend. Was it a conscious decision to be out on the show?
BM: I don’t think about it. She’s my every day. I would never deny her. I don’t live like that. She is my life. It was a no-brainer for me. I’m going to live who I am.
AE: We spoke with Vicci Martinez and one of the things that she mentioned was the format of the show perhaps making it easier for LGBT artists to succeed.
BM: Well I think for me, I have a unique look. I’m very happy that the blind auditions were based on nothing but the voice, not about your age, and not about what you look like. It’s about what you sound like.
AE: Do you think without the blind auditions that the gay artists who have made including yourself would have made it?
BM: I don’t know. I hope the energy doesn’t do anything except for bring the music alive. Hopefully they don’t think about anything like that. One love. The world should definitely embrace all of its people because it takes so many to make the world go round.
AE: Have you had a chance to discuss what the show is doing in terms of visibility with any of the other gay contestants?
BM: I think everybody that’s there that is quite proud of who they are. Vicci is great with it and I love Tyler. I married him in the gift shop with a glass ring. [Laughs] He’s so young and he braved that. I told him I’d be his wife. His Voice wife.
AE: What do you think about the Blake Shelton/GLAAD incident?
BM: I think maybe he was being silly and it wasn’t appropriate and someone took offense to it. Hopefully people like myself and other confident lesbians will walk this path and pave it for others. I’m strong enough to take it. Blake can sling it at me if he wants to. I don’t care.
AE: After a nearly 20 year career gigging in Florida, does this feel like vindication?
BM: It feels awesome. I feel blessed and like everything was not for nothing.
AE: What can tease about what’s coming up with battle round and beyond?
BM: It’s going to be off the chain and something to not be missed.
AE: Do you have any expectations for the show?
BM: Expectations are a letdown. I don’t have any except I expect for myself to do the best I can possibly do. That I’ve already set out and started and I’m going to stay that path.
Tune in to The Voice Tuesday nights on NBC.