When an artist exits a singing competition TV show they have two options – strike right away, or risk fading into obscurity. Chevonne, a former backup singer for Lady Gaga who was a contestant on season three of The Voice, chose to strike, immediately launching a Kickstarter campaign to fund an album and a music video. The campaign turned out to be a successful one, as she exceeded her goal of raising $10,000.

Substream Music Press caught up with the big haired, big voiced, singer to find out more about her experience on The Voice, which included being selected by Cee Lo in the blind auditions, and stolen by Christina Aguilera during the battle rounds, as well as what it was like touring with Lady Gaga. Chevonne also discussed the incredible impact the Muppets have had on her life, and the experience of actually getting to work with them.

Substream Music Press: You’ve toured with Lady Gaga and been on The Voice. When you go through those kinds of really big experiences, experiences very few people get to have in life, what kind of effect does it have on you?

Chevonne: It’s humbling. You’d think that it would be the opposite, where you think “I’m the shit, I can do anything, I’m a big shot,” but really I just show up at these jobs and I’m like “how did I get here? This is amazing. This is awesome.” On The Monster Ball Tour I just took in every moment and I made the best friends of my life. I saw the world. On The Voice I had a wardrobe room, and makeup, and hairstylists, and I was in front of television cameras, and I was on prime time TV. It was my little girl dreams all coming true, and my rock star fantasies happening. It didn’t matter if I won, or how many downloads I had, I got to be on those stages I dreamed about, and people in the supermarket recognize me and give me hugs, and little girls look at me like they want to be like me, and it just fills my heart with so much joy and humility because I was them, too. I feel so full of happiness that I just want to share it, I want to throw it out there. I want to give it back.

SMP: What did you learn from your time touring with Lady Gaga?

Chevonne: I learned how to use my voice, and use myself, as an instrument. I play instruments, but as a background singer I’m another piece of the band. For me, I was her double, and I sang soprano, so whenever it was a chorus I would be singing the chorus line right with her, then taking it up higher, so I had to be on my A game every show. Even if I, or another singer, was sick, we all still went on stage, there were no understudies, you just go up there and you nail it. You didn’t have a choice. So I learned how to use my voice as a tool, to really hone it, and my technique was, at that time, at the top of my game. I also learned how to sound just like Gaga because the more you can blend the better it is. I have a very different colored voice than her, but I was able to get her inflections. I can actually do a mean Gaga right now.

SMP: Which is probably why you didn’t do a Gaga song on The Voice.

Chevonne: Yeah, and I just feel like it would pigeonhole me artistically and I had so much else I wanted to say. People already know I can sing those songs because I did, on stage, with her.

SMP: From the outside, Lady Gaga seems overly serious. Were there any tour hijinks, or was pranking strictly forebode?

Chevonne: There wasn’t pranking, but it was like a rock band. We were Lady Gaga’s band, and dancers, but it was like being a hair metal band. We had the tour busses and we’d go out in different cities around the world and they’d know we were coming so they’d give us VIP seats and we never had to wait on lines to go anywhere. It was just unreal. There was so much partying. Not in a debaucherous way, but just fun, going out dancing, having an awesome time, drinking beer with all these amazing musicians, this pop band, this crazy hybrid of KISS and Gaga. It was a dream, it was an Almost Famous type of thing.

SMP: I’m trying to imagine you in KISS makeup.

Chevonne: On Halloween I dressed as a creepy clown.

SMP: All clowns are creepy.

Chevonne: {laughs} I did like a KISS style face.

SMP: Awesome! Moving to The Voice, you were chosen by Cee Lo, and stolen by Christina Aguilera. Not to blow up anyone’s spot, but every coach tells the contestants things like “we’ll keep in touch,” but do they really follow through with that?

Chevonne: They do. They’re wonderful and so down to earth and they really do care about us. Cee Lo and Christina, specifically, are very busy right now as artists. Cee Lo’s gonna tour, I think, in 2013, and Christina’s about to tour, so they’re busy, but they really do love us. Cee Lo invited me back after I was eliminated from his team. He brought back most of Team Cee Lo to do his Vegas show with The Muppets.

SMP: Yeah, we gotta talk about The Muppets. Was performing with them a lifelong dream come true?

Chevonne: My first memory of watching something and feeling like I wanted to be an artist, or creative in some way as my living, as my passion, was at three years old, watching a Muppets VHS that my mom got for me. It was Rock Music with the Muppets. It had Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem performing with Blondie and a bunch of other artists.

SMP: Tell me you still have that tape.

Chevonne: Of course I do! It was like an hour long thing. I watched it and I was just riveted and I remember in my head thinking, at three years old, “I’m a Muppet. This is my tribe. This is what I am. I’m weird, I’m silly, and I like to sing and dance all crazy.” I remember thinking “this is it. That’s gonna be my life. I want to be a Muppet.”

SMP: So one of the plots of the latest Muppets movie hit close to home.

Chevonne: Every Muppet movie, I cry. That’s where my heart is. My heart lives in those puppets, and I met the real Muppets. The Muppets that are in that Vegas show are the original puppets, and they’re (backstage) fluffing them up. It’s like The Muppets will not come out of their dressing room… you have a better chance of meeting Lady Gaga than you do Miss Piggy.

SMP: We should expect that, though, it’s Miss Piggy.

Chevonne: I stood on line with everyone else who was there to shake Kermit’s hand, and I actually gave him a kiss. I got some pictures with him.

SMP: I was about to ask if you got pictures.

Chevonne: It’s very scientific. The eye line has to be right. They don’t want any shady looking pictures of Kermit to be floating around. A special person has to take the photo, it’s a whole lot of production.

SMP: Your Muppet adventure sounds amazing, but was there anything about The Voice that was overwhelming?

Chevonne: The pressure of elimination was really rough. Everything else was a blast. Actually performing, coming up with outfits, picking songs, talking to the cameras, it was all cake, and being with everybody else on the show, all the contestants, we’re like family. I know it sounds corny, but it’s real. But knowing every time that you might be kicked off, that’s the worst part because you start to really over-think, “am I singing this right, am I making the right artistic choices here, have I even chosen the right song for me, am I gonna do one thing that’s gonna put everybody off?” It causes you to sort of panic and get in your own head too much. Towards the end, when I chose “Dancing With Myself” for my last song, I was just thinking just relax and have fun and do what you do, and I think the coaches responded best to that. I really learned how to stick to my guns, do me, relax, have fun, and not think so hard about all that pressure.

SMP: With reality singing competitions you absolutely have to strike when the iron is hot. In December you completed a $10,000 Kickstarter campaign to record your debut album and music video. When will you have music ready for people?

Chevonne: The album’s gonna be out early in 2013, I want to say March, and as soon as a single rises to the forefront I’m gonna put it out.

Chevonne Interview

By Adam Bernard