2017-03-30 / Around Town

Judges Sing Ramey’s Praises on ‘The Voice’

By James Merolla

Troy Ramey received a four-chair turn during the blind auditions and then won the battle round against Jozy Bernadette. The live finals show is in April. Troy Ramey received a four-chair turn during the blind auditions and then won the battle round against Jozy Bernadette. The live finals show is in April. A Rogers High School graduate could be the next winner of “The Voice,” the wildly popular singing competition on NBC that offers a top prize of $100,000 and a major recording contract.

Troy Ramey, 32, graduated from Rogers High in 2003 after moving to Newport from his native Woodstock, Vt. On March 7, he performed on the show, singing Cat Stevens’ “Wild World,” which he dedicated to his late father, a teacher and coach at Rogers High who inspired him in sports and music.

In the show, four top recording artists served as judges – Gwen Stefani, Alicia Keys, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton – and sat with their backs to the singer. If one turned around by pressing a buzzer, the vocalist passed the audition. Shelton turned around immediately, followed by the other three judges within one minute.

“You have lifetimes in your voice,” Keys said, before calling Ramey “cool.”

That prompted Ramey to shout to his wildly cheering mother and sister in the wings, “Alicia Keys just called me cool. Wow!”

Ramey, who now lives in Long Island, N.Y., was planning a career as an engineer or sports coach when his father died 13 years ago. He hadn’t even dreamed about music.

“It’s really hard to explain how exciting this whole thing has been for me because never, in a million years, did I ever think I would audition for ‘The Voice,’” he said in an interview last week on WPRI-TV 12 in Providence. “And I’m really glad I did.”

Each of the four judges asked the soulful baritone to join their “team,” where he would be mentored to the finals. “You sing like a man,” Shelton said. “Like a man who crushes rocks and blows their dust away.”

Shelton made a pitch to coach Ramey, but he chose Stefani, as his wide-eyed family hugged and cried.

When asked how he felt when all four superstars turned around and pitched to mentor him, he said, “I think it’s a hard thing to explain. I’m 32, and I didn’t start singing until I was in my 20s. I lost my father when I was 19. He was a musician. That’s how he met my mother. I think everything happens for a reason. When I lost my father, it subtly nudged me in a direction to a life that helped me find music.

“When I found music, I found this love that I never really knew I had,” he said. “Over the last 10 years, I have been working really, really hard, and I have really high expectations of myself. When those four judges turned around, it was an incredible affirmation of the last 10 years.”

Ramey grew up in a modest home, which lacked a television but had plenty of music. He dreamed of going to college to study engineering and play basketball, but after his dad’s death, he transferred to Boston College and focused on helping his mother.

While working at a restaurant, he started to jam with co-workers and joined a band called “In Like Lions,” which had a five-year run. Three years ago, he decided to join his girlfriend in New York to pursue a career as a singer-songwriter. He held a job at an engineering firm for a couple of years in order to fund his debut album. In 2016, his music caught on through streaming websites, with almost four million plays and counting, so he decided to leave his job and pursue music full-time.

“The blind audition was probably the best day of my life,” he said. “And watching the tape of the audition unfold was probably the next best thing. To see my mom, my sister, and my girlfriend losing it next to [host] Carson Daly was just amazing.”

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