2017-08-24 / Around Town

'Voice' Star Returns Home for Performance

Conversation with Troy Ramey
By Christopher Allen

In 2003, Troy Ramey was a senior at Rogers High School who never dreamed of singing professionally. Fast forward to 2016 and the Boston College engineering grad found himself on millions of television screens across the globe, vying for glory on NBC’s “The Voice.” Ramey was ultimately eliminated in the late rounds of the popular TV show, but now, with national recognition and creative control of his craft, he sees no limit to his future. Sunday, Aug. 27, will be a homecoming of sorts as Ramey returns for a one-night performance at Jimmy’s Saloon. “Newport is the place where my parents met while my dad was playing music. It’s special to me in many ways,” said the 33-year-old who now makes his home in New York City. “My friends from Newport don’t really know this side of me.”

Newport This Week recently caught up with Ramey about his father’s influence, returning to the City by the Sea, and talking “gut feelings” with Gwen Stefani.

It's said you’re from about five different towns. Where do you consider home? There are two that are most important. I was born in Vermont, and most of my memories as kid are from that time. Newport is place number two. I love Rhode Island. It was not easy moving from Vermont to Rhode Island as a 15-year-old kid. That’s a tough age, and kids are super cliquey, but I welcomed it and I was able to find lifelong friends.

You mentioned in a past interview that you turned down multiple record deals before “The Voice.” Why was that? I’m a control freak when it comes to my music. When you sign with a label, you give up a massive amount of control. I’m finally surviving 100 percent off music; it’s a dream come true. I just can’t afford to roll the dice. For every artist that we know on a label, there are thousands you’ve never heard of that can’t release a song without someone saying OK. I would totally sign with the right label under the right circumstances, but for now my small team and I can continue to build [and] maintain control.

You quit a cushy engineering job to pursue music full time. Were you confident that you would succeed or did you think you were taking a risk? I definitely was taking a risk. I did have a little bit of a cushion because my royalties started coming in, but it was still scary as hell. It still is.

How do you feel about the competitive reality show format for music? Do you feel it negatively affects the art or the artist? I don’t think that singing competitions serve art or music very well. I’m biased because I’m a creator. I like new things, new sounds, new approaches. I don’t like to hear the same song the same way twice. I understand that most of the viewers of the show probably don’t feel the same way I do. It’s not wrong or right, just different.

Why did you choose Gwen Stefani as coach on “The Voice?” I was trying to be a bit strategic. I thought Gwen might have the most diverse team and possibly the best one for me to stand out on. But ultimately, I chose Gwen because she fought the hardest for me. She wouldn’t let anyone else speak, she made me look her in the eyes and told me that her whole career was a gut feeling, and that she just knew that I was meant to work with her. When it came time, she saved me.

You’ve mentioned the musical influence from your father, who passed away in 2004. Do you feel a genetic disposition toward music or was the influence more from personal desire? I was pretty clear with the producers of the show that I didn’t want to make a sob story out of my dad’s death. I didn’t want people to think I was leaning on that story for sympathy, and I’m actually really happy with the way they told our story. I loved my dad so much. I looked up to him, and I really miss him. It would be crazy to think he hasn’t had an impact on me in music. Music was unplanned, unintended, but when I lost him I found music and I fell in love with it. I felt like it was a way to keep him around.

What’s next? Baby steps is a term that I’m really becoming comfortable with. My career is stronger now than it was a year ago, but it takes a lot of work and a good team. I have had some meetings with publishers, and talks with other industry opportunities, but I have to be patient and selective. I’m really in no rush. I’m also going to be releasing a lot of content. I plan on releasing something just about every single week at least until the end of the year. I have some songs that I am really proud of, and I can’t wait to get them into the world.

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