The third season of NBC’s prime-time talent show the Voice has been especially exciting for Minnesota music fans, with Nicholas David — known locally as Eagan’s Nick “The Feelin” Mrozinski — continuing to advance forward each week. Nicholas is now among the top six finalists on the show, and the producers are clearly putting some weight behind him; just last week, coach Cee Lo Green brought in legendary soul artist Bill Withers to give him some pointers.
In advance of tonight’s episode of the Voice, the Morning Show’s Jill Riley and Steve Seel spoke with Nicholas over the phone from L.A., and you can listen to that conversation here. A transcript of their chat is below, along with a few videos of Nicholas performing on the Voice.
Jill Riley: How are you? Congratulations on the top six!
Nicholas David: I’m good, I’m just truly taking it all in. It’s kind of a lot.
Steve Seel: Seriously. The one thing I want to ask you, before we get into it, is your name — it’s not the name that you’ve built the foundations of your career on here, starting in Minnesota. We’ve been wondering, ever since you started on the Voice, what was the decision to go with Nicholas David?
Nicholas: Being in a very different route that I never would have — a year ago, I never would have expected to be doing something like this. I just thought it was a different part of the musical journey, so to speak. Because like, the Feelin’, and even with my last name, too, when we were in the beginning of doing things and they were kind of jumbling up my last name here and there. And I was like, well, if they’re already doing that now, what are thousands or millions of people going to be doing with my last name? I just kind of prayed on it, breathed on it, meditated on it, and Nicholas David kind of came. Again, I thought it’d be fitting for a different road that I’ve never travelled.
Jill: When did you decide to audition for the Voice?
Nicholas: I do some voiceover work, and the gal that gets me my jobs, she changed my life already, and she was like, you should try out for the Voice. I was like, I don’t think so.
Jill: Had you watched it before?
Nicholas: Yeah. A little bit here and there. Because I’ve got two kids, I don’t really get too much time. But then once she said you should do it, and again I have a lot of trust in her, she was just like, go for it, and I just listened and did it. It was wild just how it led to here. I was booking some shows, and I had the first weekend in March, I couldn’t book for the life of me, and then once we found out about this show and stuff, I was like, well when is the audition, the first part? And they’re like, March.
Nicholas: Yeah, it was just kind of wild how it would be these little ‘wow’ moments that are kind of almost like divinely orchestrated.
Jill: What’s it been like working with Cee Lo Green?
Nicholas: Super, super cool. Super cool. Again, I think they’re all awesome, but that was who I was hoping to work with and almost felt destined to work with. It’s just been a perfect fit. He said we were cut from the same cloth; I would agree with that one thousand percent. Because we’re doing so much and it’s been so much, you have these moments where you’ll kind of be like, am I really doing this right now?
Steve: When they show the rehearsals on the show, you don’t really get a sense for how many rehearsal sessions take place and how long they are. How much during the course of the week are you actually doing that?
Nicholas: We’re rehearsing quite a bit. We do stage stuff, we do band stuff, all sorts of stuff. It’s quite an involved process, it doesn’t really stop ever.
Jill: Have you had a hand in choosing your songs? Or did Cee Lo present songs to you?
Nicholas: It’s a collaborative effort.
Steve: It really is? So it’s not something where things are chosen for you and they make it look like you’ve chosen things, that’s good to know.
Jill: I would say you guys made a pretty great choice with Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me.” That was, I would say, a highlight of the show this season.
Nicholas: Awesome, thank you.
Steve: Tell us about that amazing moment that was caught on video, when Cee Lo brings Bill Withers into the studio. You looked absolutely aghast.
Nicholas: Again, this whole trip has been almost unimaginable, and working with all these people has been so amazing. Not to discredit any one of those people, but Bill Withers came in and it was weird, my leg started shaking. My knees — I was like that’s, no. Oh my gosh, holy buckets for real, that is really him. I felt like that was one of the elders of the tribe, and all I could do was just listen. I cleared my shelves so I could just store as much of his wisdom and information and perspective and experience as I could, it was unreal. And then they’re like, do you want to go over your new song for him? And I was like, no. Lo was like, would you mind if Bill gave you some pointers? And I’m like, yes? Yes.
Jill: What are some of the pointers he gave you?
Nicholas: He was like — first of all, I loved it too, because I have such a love and respect for the older generation. I feel like they kind of just get slammed in nursing homes and not really, like, their experience really valued. For a quick sidebar, to explain that, I’ve been doing this retreat with my dad for seven years, my dad’s been doing it for like 37 or 38 years, where we go take a vow of silence for three days, and the majority of the people there are ages 65 to 85. And being with them, where you’re quiet, you’re around them and you look to them and you see the life in their eyes — and so then back to the Withers thing, it’s just like he walked in there, and after kind of, I don’t think I’m really over the fact that that was Bill Withers, but to see the life in his eyes, and that particular path that he lived, and that I’ve chosen to follow.
He was like, we’re all born with something. We all got a little bit of crazy in us, so be nice to that person. And be who you are. And learn who you are, know who you are. He’s like, some of us weren’t born with a pretty face. I wasn’t born like Harry Bellafonte, I can’t sing about bananas. He’s like, believe you me, I’ve got a whole song worked out about every fruit in the jungle, but that’s not me. I was born with what I was born with, so I have to sing what I have to sing. And I was just like, oh man. It was so cool to watch, to watch Lo listen and watch the whole band there, everybody was just hanging on his every word. It was unreal. He kept going, and he felt like he was taking up too much time, so he’s like I’d better get going, and we’re all like, oh, no! Unreal.
And he’s like, Cee Lo, you owe me some money, man. So he would say these deep things, and then keep cracking these, like, I’ve got a garbage bag outside you can throw it in. And then when he’s done he’s like, I’m still waiting on my check. It was hilarious.
Jill: It’s like a dream that you’ll never wake up from.
Steve: Like a guru stepping in, but then one with this sense of humor as well. That’s what’s so magical about it.
Nicholas: It was so cool. I was doing my prayers and stuff last night, and part of what I do is cut out pieces of the newspaper and add the date or a picture that will strike me. And I was looking and I saw he was releasing a box set of all of his work. And again, kind of what I was speaking about earlier with divine orchestration, how it’s like — it just makes me think, wow, that did happen. It’s truly unreal.
Steve: Well there are so many Minnesotans and a lot of listeners of the Current who are just so excited for you, and really rooting for you. It’s so wonderful that you’re getting this exposure.
Nicholas: I truly can feel the support in my being, it makes me shake. But in a good way. It gives me strength for this unimaginable journey that just feels like a walking dream.
Jill: Can you give us a hint to what you’ll be performing next?
Nicholas: That’s confidential informaion. [laughs]
Watch Nicholas David perform as one of the top six finalists on the Voice tonight, 7 p.m. on NBC.