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Exit interview: Atlanta's Aaron Gibson grateful for 'Voice' experience

This is posted Thursday, December 8, 2016 by Rodney Ho on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Atlanta singer songwriter Aaron Gibson realized relatively quickly once the live shows began that he had no chance of actually winning "The Voice."

"I'm a realist," he said.

Being in the bottom two three weeks in a row is a pretty harsh signal.

But that didn't mean he gave up by an stretch. He kept grinding and performing. In the end, he spent more time on stage singing than anybody else up to this point as a result. Thanks to all the Instant Saves, he sang eight times in the past four weeks. That's great exposure, he said.

"It's kind of crazy," he said. "I wanted to leave an impact on the show. I don't think the results this week were totally unexpected. Historically speaking, once you end up on the bottom a couple of times, it's hard to get out of that. I wasn't surprised."

And earlier this week, he was eliminated from the top 8 without even a shot at the top 4 after performing Bryan Adams' "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You."

Over the weeks, he has sung obscure songs, country songs, alt rock songs and now a lame ballad from the early 1990s. He didn't take offense that the Bryan Adams song is not exactly universally loved (though ubiquitous nonetheless).

"It was something that [coach] Miley [Cyrus] wanted to do at bequest of the producers," he said. "We wanted to make sure we tried everything. That was like a final effort to make sure every possible formula was tried. It was not my first pick but I was perfectly happy to do it. I trusted Miley."

Again, he wasn't sure if it mattered what song he sang at this point. People were voting for who they were voting and his fan base clearly wasn't large enough to sustain him into the top four.

He said the top three were expected, even among the contestants. Sundance Head, Billy Gilman and We McDonald have been favorites for weeks. The other five fought for the final slot. He thought it would be Ali Caldwell but Josh Gallagher grabbed the slot instead, via the Instant Save on Twitter. "It's been an interesting season," he said. "I don't know who's going to win. The finale is going to be a good show."

Even going in, he knew his grungy, more low-key style wasn't going to necessarily make him the winner. At the same time, he said, "I was able to prove you don't have to be this big torch singer to get this far. Hopefully I inspired other musicians like me to take a chance and try out."

Gibson said he accomplished his goals. "I won regardless of what place I finished," he said. "I feel very good."

On Monday, he also had fun with the Rihanna/Kanye West/Paul McCartney song "FourFiveSeconds," a  duet with We McDonald. "It was another genre nobody would have expected me to sing," he said. "I was really happy to get a chance to do something different. She was amazing."

Gibson said he will perform during the finale and hopes to duet with someone he admires. He has sent in his wish list but he's not sure if any of those names will pop up on Tuesday night. (One person who certainly won't be there is Father John Misty. Gibson got flak from the singer after he performed a cover of one of his songs, possibly a first in the history of "The Voice." "I was a little confused by it," Gibson said, sounding clearly hurt. "He signed off on it. I was surprised. He is entitled to his opinion. I'm sure he has an image to uphold.")

Gibson is already planning an album which he thinks will be Hozier meets Nirvana. He wants to get out new music as quickly as he can whether he signs with a record label or not. (Nowadays, that's not a common occurrence anymore.)

His favorite performance on the show was his haunting rendition of Nine Inch Nails' song "Hurt."

"It took personal phone calls from the higher ups to get Trent Reznor to clear it," Gibson said. "It was an honor and a privilege to sing it. I truly that song. I'm a huge Nine Inch Nails fan. It's a darker song. This show tends to go for a more happy pop sensibility. It was nice to talk about a subject every bit as important as love and happiness." (The song seems to be about depression and addiction.)

Although he came onto the show hoping to work with Adam Levine, Levine didn't turn his chair for him. Instead, Miley Cyrus chose him. And she became a strong defender of his.

"She really inspired me to pursue avenues I was a little bit of afraid to go musically," he said. "She gave me the strength to believe in myself and really go for it."

"She's been amazing," he added. "She's someone I could consider a personal friend. We have plans to work together beyond the show."

He plans to hold an Atlanta homecoming concert in January or February. I'll update this when I get information.


"The Voice," Monday at 8 p.m. with two-hour season finale at Tuesday at 9 p.m.


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About the Author

Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.