The Voice is celebrating its 20th season this spring.
And I’ve decided to celebrate too, by shining a spotlight on my all-time favorite post-Voice music.
Now anyone who reads this blog regularly knows I’m not a fan of what’s happened to The Voice.
Between added gimmicks and a shortened season, it’s not nearly the showcase for artists it once was.
But I’ll be forever grateful to Carson Daly and company for introducing me to so many amazing artists who’ve left the show to release so much amazing music.
Each day during Season 20, I plan to feature one of my favorite post-Voice songs in this blog.
Several of the tracks are from past winners and finalists.
But not every winner or finalist is represented and I guarantee some of the names on the list will have you scratching your head and thinking, “Who?”
Which is perfect, because the purpose of this blog is to help you discover that music as well and maybe even entice you to listen to more of that artists’ post-Voice releases.
About 90 songs will be featured before the list is complete. Which doesn’t sound like a very exclusive list. Until you consider that 896 singers won spots on The Voice in its first 19 seasons and many of them have released multiple albums since.
Also, please note that I’m not labeling these songs as “the best” post-Voice music. That’s simply too dependent on musical tastes.
These are my favorites, songs that make me smile or move me every time I listen.
I hope you’ll celebrate these artists with me. After all, they’re the ones who have made The Voice worth watching since the show premiered April 26, 2011.
And, of course, feel free to list your own favorite post-Voice music in the comments below.
Editor’s Note: Also check out the “Celebrating 20 Seasons of The Voice” playlist on Spotify. I update it with the new songs featured here each week.
I can’t imagine a better way to start this than with a song from a wonderful artist taken from us way too soon. Christina (3rd place, Season 6) was shot and killed by a crazed fan at a meet-and-greet following a show in Orlando, Fla., on June 10, 2016. She’d just released a superb four-song EP called “Side A” that February, plus four accompanying videos telling The Ballad of Jessica Blue, described as “a young woman’s journey into self-discovery.” It was her best music yet. Her family has continued to release Christina’s music posthumously. They’ve also set up the Christina Grimmie Foundation to support families affected by gun violence and breast cancer. Christina on Instagram. Christina on Apple Music. Christina on Spotify.
This list will include several magical collaborations, none more so than this folksy, up-tempo duet from Sawyer Fredericks and Mia Z. This song was first released just six months after Sawyer’s Season 8 triumph on the show. It also appeared on his post-Voice debut album, “A Good Storm.” Remember, Sawyer was just 15 when he auditioned. Mia was just 16; she finished Top 12. Both are still releasing excellent music. Sawyer’s third post-Voice album, “Flowers for You,” landed last year. So did an album (“Evidence”) and an EP (“This or That)” from Mia, now 22. Head here for a video of them performing “Stranger” live while touring together in the spring of 2016. Sawyer’s Instagram. Sawyer on Apple Music. Sawyer on Spotify. Mia Z’s Instagram. Mia on Apple Music. Mia on Spotify.
Hands down one of my favorite songs of 2020 by anyone, post-Voice or otherwise. Kensington was just 16 when she appeared on Season 7 of The Voice and got bounced in the battle round. But she’s come into her own over the past two years with a string of impressive singles. Her plaintive vocal here is perfect for the song. She called “Birthday” “by far one of the hardest and saddest songs I’ve ever had to write … Writing this was a huge part of my healing process. I was able to find peace, newfound strength, and closure through these lyrics … if you are dealing with a loss of a loved one or a breakup that never quite healed, this song is dedicated to you.”
Kensington’s Instagram. Kensington on Apple Music. Kensington on Spotify.
After finishing Top 5 on Season 7, Taylor John became the writer and singer of sad songs. He also left his job at Portland’s Sniff Dog Hotel for the bright lights of L.A. Truth be told, there were multiple John Taylor candidates for this list, including “White Summer Dress” (2017) and “On the Floor” (from his just-released EP “Angeline”). But “Songs of a Dead Man,” one of his first post-Voice singles, complete with references to Johnny Cash and Jeff Buckley, remains my favorite among his releases. Want to see Taylor John perform the song live? Head here.
Taylor John’s Instagram. Taylor John on Apple Music. Taylor John on Spotify.
Quick quiz: Which former The Voice contestant has been nominated for two Grammys? Answer: Koryn Hawthorne, who auditioned for the show at age 16, wound up finishing fourth on Season 8 and has since launched what you might call a successful career in gospel music. How successful? Her debut single “Won’t He Do It” set a Billboard gospel record for consecutive weeks at number one. And the just-turned-23-year-old has another number one hit on her hands with “Speak to Me.” But the powerful vocal on this song makes it my Koryn favorite. It’s from her debut album “Unstoppable,” which proved pretty prophetic as an album title. Oh, and by the way, I’m pretty sure she’s the only former Voice contestant who’s snagged two Grammy nominations.
Koryn on Instagram. Koryn on Apple Music. Koryn on Spotify.
Zaxai told Voice Views a breakup with an ex-fianceé threw him into a deep depression for two years and provided the inspiration for “Too Far Gone,” his post-show debut EP. The EP no longer seems to be available in its entirety, but this brilliant song is. Zaxai (Season 15) described “You Were the One” “as one of those songs that kind of just came to me,” though he says that might be partly because some of the lyrics are taken from journal notes he’d made on his phone of his feelings following the breakup. You might say his latest release, November’s “Li Mechan” with Shandapal, is completely different in tone. In Zaxai’s words “the type of record where your hips get real close with bae.”
Zaxai on Instagram. Zaxai on Apple Music. Zaxai on Spotify.
The best debut single ever released by a Voice winner? Perhaps. I know that chorus is so catchy, I had to be careful not to walk into work singing “I’ve got last night’s mascara / still on my face” for a couple of weeks after the song was released. Brynn, 15 at the time, caught some flack for releasing such a risqué (really?) song at such a young age. Her response was priceless: “It’s not about my actions. It’s called writing in character. My music tells stories and I’m dang proud of it. Hope this cleared up your confusion. 😊” And dang proud she should be; the song’s been streamed 7 million times on Spotify alone. Musically, the Season 15 champ’s been pretty silent since. Sounds like that’s about to change. In a Feb. 6 Instagram post, Brynn alerted fans that she was adding a final song to her upcoming EP.
Brynn’s Instagram. Brynn on Apple Music. Brynn on Spotify.
See also …
Week 2: Kat Robichaud, Chevonne and The Fuzz, Melanie Martinez, Archis (Dia Frampton), Rebecca Loebe, Jamar Rogers, Brian Nhira
Week 3: Brennley Brown, Craig Wayne Boyd, Adam Wakefield, Kyndal Inskeep, Austin Jenckes, Jared Blake, Cassadee Pope
Week 4: Secret Someones (Leila Broussard), D.R. King and Jackie Foster, Wolfchild (Gabriel Wolfchild), Ricky Manning, Moses Stone, Wé McDonald
Week 5: Tony Lucca, Juliet Simms, Chris Mann, Duncan Kamakana, Jordy Searcy, Adanna Duru, Stephen Marcellus
Week 6: Chloe Kohanski, Meghan Linsey, Christiana Danielle, Charlotte Sometimes (now LACES), Chance Pena, Matt McAndrew, Angie K (Angie Keilhauer)
Week 7: Ricky Duran, Luke Wade (as LAWS), Billy Gilman, Emily Keener, Kylie Rothfield, Johnny Gates, Amanda Brown
Week 8: Dustin Christensen, Jonny Gray, Kat Robichaud, Dia Frampton, Lelia Broussard
Week 9: RaeLynn, Natalie Stovall, Gracee Shriver, The Swon Brothers, Ashland Craft, Kristi Hoopes, Texas Hill (Adam Wakefield and Craig Wayne Boyd)
Week 10: Angela Wolff, Brooke Stephenson, Fousheé, Paxton Ingram, Ashley DuBose, Javier Colon, Gigi Rich