Photo by Trae Patton/NBC
It’s hard to watch The Voice each week and not wonder how the young hopefuls handle the pressure of stepping on to the world stage time and time again. This season, Team Gwen is the perfect example of a group of talented artists, who all lack experience. So it’s not surprising that Jeffrey Austin, Braiden Sunshine and Korin Bukowski all handle their pre-show jitters in different ways.
The oldest of the trio, Jeffrey is still just 24. Interested in performing from an early age, he auditioned for all of the musicals when he was in high school. But when it came time to make important life decisions, he heeded his mother’s advice and took the more stable route into public relations rather than pursuing a career in entertainment. But now in the Top 11 of The Voice, he’s had to be on his came for each new number.
In a recent roundtable interview, he explained that he honed his ritual thanks to his coach. “I always get really pissed off. I get really angry,” Jeffrey revealed. “That’s something Gwen told me in The Battles is to get really angry about what you’re about to do. Get angry to prove yourself… I get really mad and that really helps.”
On the other end of the age spectrum, 15-year-old Braiden Sunshine takes the opposite approach — spreading a little bit of love before he hits the stage. The high school freshman admitted, “I think my ritual is probably really annoying for other people because I just walk around and give everybody hugs and tell them ‘You guys are gonna do great.’”
But there’s an ulterior motive behind the teenage singer’s seemingly altruistic. “I try to lift everybody else up so I don’t concentrate on myself as much because when I concentrate on myself, I scare the crap out of myself,” Braiden conceded. “Sometimes I notice that people give me weird looks when I’ve given the same person a hug like five times.”
For her part, Korin confessed that she gets a bit emotional, “I just cry and shake, pretty much. So she turns to one of her teammates when pre-show jitters get the best of her, asking Jeffrey to channel that pissed off guy in her direction. Jeffrey explained, “I just always tell her to knock it off.”
Clearly the tough love helped Korin make it to the Final 12 and beyond. Still she acknowledged, “I get unreasonably scared. Nothing’s in control. You have control over your song and how you perform it. I don’t have any specific rituals. I just get really in my head.”
But it seems that thoughtful introspection has helped Korin hone an important new skill. “One thing I’ve been told is that I’ve able to emote with the audience, which is something I didn’t even know I could do,” she remarked. “So, I’ve been really happy with that response so far. People have told me they can connect with me and with what I’m singing. And that’s meant a lot to me.”
Jeffrey said that he has also learned this valuable lesson, “I think the most important thing that I’ve been working on to this point is definitely to connecting to the song and emoting. And so I’ve really started to… figure out how to do it because it takes you a lot to get it there. Especially with Gwen… if it’s not believable, she says, ‘I don’t believe you’ and she makes you do it again.”
In the meantime, Braiden is just being himself and being a kid. “I don’t know what I have that’s gotten me here, but whatever it is, dang I like it. All that I do is hang around and sing and be young.”
See if their rituals help take these three contestants all the way. Watch The Voice on Mondays and Tuesday nights at 8 P.M. EST/PST on NBC.