The Voice's Trevin Hunte on Up-Tempo Risks, Doubting Teachers, Big Dreamgirls Moments

trevin hunteTrevin Hunte may have specialized in big, booming ballads during Season 3 of The Voice, but don’t try to slap a label on him in his post-show career.

“I just want to create feel-good music,” says the soft-spoken fourth-place finisher. “I definitely love my R&B and soul, but I want to make different types of music that connects different types of people.”

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TVLine caught up with Trevin to talk about his big musical moments on The Voice, the emotional bonds he formed with his Battle and Knockout Rounds rivals, and that certain former teacher of his who wanted him to give up on his dreams.

TVLINE | Obviously any conversation about your Voice journey has to start with your Blind Audition to Beyonce’s “Listen.” You had a lot less experience going in than a lot of your competition. How did you settle on that song, and how nervous were you when you took that stage?
I actually sang “Listen” when I was in the ninth grade, at my high school talent show, and I won that year. But coming into the Blind Auditions was very nerve-wracking to me because it was the biggest stage that I ever stepped my foot on, the biggest platform

TVLINE | We saw before that audition an interview package where you talked about having had a teacher at one point who told you to give up on your music dreams. What was it like seeing that story told on national television? Was it weird in any way? And did you ever hear from that teacher afterwards?
It was definitely emotional and weird at the same time. It was like, “Wow, I am actually on TV pursuing my dreams,” and just to hear my story and to be a testimony or an inspiration to teens out there that are going through the same thing, that was great. I mean, I haven’t heard anything back from that teacher, but it’s okay. I’m not bitter about the situation anymore because, in all honesty, I have to thank her. I took her negative comment and turned it into something that was very, very positive for me and in my life .

TVLINE | Your Battle Round duet with Amanda Brown on “Vision of Love” was pretty legendary. Did you realize Cee Lo went into that matchup viewing you as the clear winner and her as cannon fodder? And how early on did you realize how good she actually was.
From the time I saw Amanda’s audition, I knew for a fact that she had more inside of her. But you know what? We sat down and we talked before we ever practiced or hit the stage. We didn’t want to make it look like a battle. We wanted to make it a duet and I felt like we did that. At that moment in time, yes, I wanted to stay on Team Cee Lo. But it wasn’t a competition to me because we grew so strong together as friends.

TVLINE | What does it feel like to be up there with a singer of Amanda’s caliber and have both of you just belting it out like crazy?
It just feels like great music to me. To stand on the stage with people that share the same dream and share the same passion was definitely a great feeling. Sometimes, we get competitive because we all want to win, but more importantly, I had the opportunity to sing on the stage with someone that sang background for Adele.

TVLINE | You probably had the most emotional matchup of all the Season 3 Knockout Rounds. You and Terisa Griffin seemed very close, and it was such a sweet moment when you guys came off the stage, and she said something along the lines of, “if I was going to lose to anybody, I wanted it to be you.” Tell me about your relationship and how hard it was to go up against her.
Honestly, from the time I stepped off the plane in California, Terisa was actually one of the first people that ever spoke to me. With her being older than me, she always had that motherly love towards me. We did every single thing together, and for me and her to be paired against each other was definitely emotional, and I guess that showed on TV. She was a great person, but I also felt like she had one of the best voices I’ve ever heard in my whole entire life. We talk almost every day…she’s like my mother for life, definitely.

TVLINE | Once you hit the live shows, you tackled a lot of big, old-school ballads: “How Am I Supposed To Live Without You,” “When a Man Loves A Woman,” and so on. Combined with “Listen,” “Vision of Love,” and “Against All Odds,” that was five ballads in a row. Did you have any fears at that point about not being perceived by the audience as fresh or current?
My mindset was, basically, to just show America different sides of me. At that point, it was just ballads after ballads after ballads. I forgot that I was 18, and I felt that America forgot that, too. I was performing songs that were before my time, and there was always a voice in the back of my head wanting to be given something different.

TVLINE | The next week, you tackled Usher’s “Scream,” and we saw in rehearsal that Cee Lo and Jennifer Hudson weren’t immediately on board. How did you convince them to let you go there? And how did you feel about the feedback from the coaches and fans that it wasn’t really well-suited to your voice?
I do know for a fact that that was not my best performance, but it was just my way of saying, “Look, I can actually try and do something different. I could actually take a risk.” If you take new risks and challenges, it makes you a better artist. And it showed what type of music that I wanted to do. It was definitely hard trying to get Cee Lo and Jennifer on board with that, but I showed them that I could do it.

TVLINE | It felt to me like the end result didn’t quite come together. Was it a matter of song choice or…
I got nervous because of the fact that no one ever saw me do something up-tempo before, so that was running through my head while performing it.

TVLINE | Were you happy to get back to your wheelhouse the next week with “The Greatest Love of All,” or did it make give you pause that you might be pigeonholed doing the kinds of big, old-fashioned ballads that aren’t really charting anymore?
People might not always agree with what I do, but you know what? It’s better to be myself as a person and as a performer. And going back to Whitney Houston was definitely a great choice because that’s my idol. I felt like that song, particularly, had a very great and clear message, and I felt like it meshed with my personal story completely. I was happy with it.

TVLINE | For Top 6 week, when the competition really seemed as close as it could possibly get, you chose the hugely range-y, risky “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going,” which like “Listen,” is from the Dreamgirls soundtrack. Were you scared about tackling a song that massive and iconic?
I was definitely scared to sing that song. That is one of the hardest songs in the world, but I came onto the show wanting to take risks and tackle challenges, to become a better artist and performer. And while it was definitely hard ,I thought the outcome was a-okay.

TVLINE | What happened the following week on “Wind Beneath My Wings.” It seemed like you had more vocal problems than you’d had at any point in the season.
To be honest with you, I got kind of emotional, especially watching the package of me back home with my family, and it was definitely nerve-wracking for me. My emotions got the best of me. That said, I’m not mad. I’m actually happy and excited to work extra hard and let my music be heard. And I’m definitely happy that I get a chance to go back with my family, who really truly love me and support me.

Were you a fan of Trevin during his Voice run? Are you eager to hear his post-Voice output? Sound off in the comments! And for all my reality TV recaps, news and interviews — including a new Q&A with Nicholas David — follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!