By Tonya Burton
On Aug. 14, after a family vacation to Florida, Josh Kaufman arrived at the Carmel Palladium for an interview, wearing his signature fedora, a polo shirt, and skinny jeans.
“Well, it’s not like Usher or Adam Levine who can’t go anywhere,” Kaufman said of walking around Carmel. “I’m just glad people care … and I guess, they do connect with my music.”
Kaufman is a Carmel resident who became the season six winner of the NBC hit “The Voice,” nabbing a $100,000 grand prize and a recording contract with Republic Records, a division of Universal.
Much has been written about Kaufman since his appearance on “The Voice.”
He is an original artist, performing since the age of 4 when his mother sat him on the piano bench at church and encouraged him to sing. In his teens, he appeared three times on Ed McMahon’s “Star Search,” and later auditioned for Simon Cowell’s “The X-Factor.” After years of being a regular at the Potbelly Sandwich Shop in Indianapolis and working as an SAT prep tutor, Kaufman’s wife, Jennifer Myer, encouraged him to try out for “The Voice.”
Something clicked at “The Voice” auditions. All four chairs turned around for him. This time Kaufman was ready. Although his journey was challenged by events such as change of coaches to snafus on iTunes, he prevailed. On May 20 he was named the winner making him the first from team Usher to win.
Josh has been on a whirlwind ride since entering the contest. What followed the end of the show was “The Voice Tour” of 31 cities in seven weeks, beginning in San Antonio and ending in Redmond, Wash. Josh was joined by finalists Jake Worthington and Christina Grimme, as well as season five winner, power house Tessane Chin. During the tour, Josh sang duets with Chin, including Rhianna’s “Stay.” Then, in conjunction with the projection of Usher on a big screen image, he performed “Every Breath You Take,” written by Sting and made popular by The Police in 1983.
After “The Voice Tour,” Kaufman interrupted his family vacation for a day and flew back to Indianapolis for a State Fair Performance, where an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 people gathered at the free stage. He appeared with his band, New Etiquette, which includes drummer, Ryan Koch, and bassist, Nate Gray. Kaufman’s eclectic style was clearly in evidence as he performed songs such as John Legend’s “All of Me,” and his own compositions, “Love and Regret” and “My Delusion.” Of particular interest, was Sinead O’Connor’s hit, “Nothing Compares to You.”
“The melody is the same. I just changed the chord progression. I heard the song on my alarm clock one morning and thought to myself, ‘Oh, I could do it this way.’ I’ve been doing it that way for about fifteen years,” Kaufman said.
That process of seeing things both in part and in whole provides a glimpse into the workings of Kaufman’s mind. Kaufman graduated from IUPUI as a philosophy major. Rather than viewing philosophy as arcane, he said he sees it as the principle behind everything. When one talks to him, his voice is warm and animated, but anyone would be aware of the deliberate thought and weight given to each answer, each response.
What’s next for Josh Kaufman? Since “The Voice Tour” is over, Kaufman said he will be heading to New York City for meetings to discuss his new album and specifically a single, which will be released first. He’s looking for that magic formula that will put it over the top, a release on iTunes and plenty of radio play.
As far as where he will live, his family is committed to staying in Carmel where his oldest daughter is enrolled in school.
“I will travel as I need to, and my family will join me when they can, but we discussed it and we want to stay here,” he said.
Kaufman said he hopes people continue to feel connected to his music.
“That’s what I want. That’s what they worked with me on at ‘The Voice.’ They said, your music’s solid. Let’s work on connection. Look people in the eye; make contact with the audience. And, man …Usher. When Usher walks out on the stage, he owns it. He is a phenomenal performer. And, that’s what I kept thinking—how can I become a better all-around artist,” he said.
Kaufman’s next performance in Indiana will be at the Indy Jazz Fest on Sept. 13.
Follow Josh at www.iamjoshkaufmanmusic.com and on Facebook.
Current in Carmel would like to thank Josh Kaufman for this interview. We also thank Steve Webster, CEO of CMPR Management who arranged the interview. For hosting us, we thank John Hughey, Director of External Relations, Chris Lewis, Director of Programs with the Feinstein Foundation, and Tania Castroverde Moskalenko, CEO of The Performing Arts Center.