If you keep up with NBC’s The Voice, chances are you’ve already become familiar with rising artist Ian Flanigan. If not, then you’re about to meet a talent that is unlike any other in country music.
The singer/songwriter and guitarist, with undeniable gravel baritone vocals, and a high level of determination (having previously taken to the road in a “Flanivan”), stole the hearts of Americans all across the country while appearing on Season 19 of the reality TV sing-off show. Flanigan competed on Team Blake and placed third overall in the competition, after putting his soulful vocals on songs like Zac Brown Band’s “Colder Weather,” Travis Tritt’s “Anymore,” Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Have You Ever Seen The Rain” and Luke Combs’ “Beautiful Crazy.”
Since his show run, he hasn’t stopped.
After The Voice, the newly-engaged New Yorker and father of young daughter Kamea, hit the ground running, quickly signing on with Reviver Music. He is currently gearing up for the May 14th release of his debut single entitled, “Grow Up.” The forthcoming track features guest vocals by none other than his former The Voice coach, Shelton, and Flanigan says the song “is about celebrating life, and feeling young, no matter how old you are.” To celebrate the release, Shelton and Flanigan also plan to mark their live debut television performance of the duet song on a new episode of The Voice, premiering Monday (May 17.)
Flanigan recently chatted with Music Mayhem to talk about his experience on The Voice, and to also share what he’s been up to since coming off the show. He also opened up about his new duet with Shelton, family life and more.
Continue reading to find out more on Flanigan in this exclusive Q&A below.
New music May 14th!! My new single, “Grow Up” featuring Blake Shelton is coming soon. Couldn’t be more excited to share it with you. Go click the link in my bio to pre-save the new single! https://t.co/b5Atr8QV6h #presave #blakeshelton #ianflanigan #newmusic pic.twitter.com/gwswPnLe67
— Ian Flanigan (@IanFlanigan) April 26, 2021
How has life been since finishing in the Top 3 on The Voice, what have you been up to?
Life has been pretty great, I’ve been feeling incredibly fortunate to have had the experience on The Voice this past year. Since the show, I’ve been performing, writing, and recording consistently and have now signed with Reviver Music Group as my new label, and JLS Artist Management as my new management. We’ve just teamed up with Kinkead Entertainment as well, and I couldn’t be more excited to be joining their teams.
You were the first member to join Team Blake during your season of The Voice and Shelton called you a “once in a lifetime” vocalist, how did that feel and what was going through your mind at that moment?
My voice hasn’t always been well received, I went into The Voice with zero expectations. To have someone like Blake Shelton, who’s not only one of the best singers, but someone who’s seen, and coached as many voices as he has give a compliment like “once in a lifetime” was really incredible. At that moment I was just grateful to be heading to the next round and joining his team. There was a lot riding on that performance for me. We had an awesome year-long tour lined up that had just gotten completely washed away by Covid. Like so many artists, and people in general we were out of work and I remember being backstage just thanking God for the chance to keep working.
You are gearing up to release your new single “Grow Up,” which will feature your coach from The Voice, Blake Shelton. Can you tell us how that came about?
My whole team has worked really hard to make all of this happen and I couldn’t be more stoked to release “Grow Up”. The Feature from Blake happened pretty organically. After I signed with Reviver, we were focusing on recording this single. As we were moving closer to recording, we thought it would be awesome if Blake would want to jump on the track. We reached out to see if he had any interest, and he did! Blake has a history of helping previous contestants from the show and I’m so grateful for his generosity and that the timing worked out for us to do this.
You can pre-save “Grow Up” now HERE.
What was it like working with Shelton on the forthcoming duet?
It’s always an absolute pleasure to get to work with Blake, I’m a huge fan of his music and him as a person. He’s great to hang with, and a real pro in the studio. This time around there were a lot less cameras and it was good to catch up with him outside of The Voice. When you’re working with Blake, it doesn’t take long for him to get the work done. He’s got one of those voices that just tracks so easily and sits really well in a mix right away. It’s still hard to believe that this experience is happening for me, I just try to be present, and grateful in these situations. I’m always aware of what an honor it is. Blake was very generous with his time in the studio. Being such a busy guy, to cut out the time to make this happen really shows his character, and his dedication to helping other artists. I’m thankful to call him a friend.
Can you tell us about the meaning behind “Grow Up”?
“Grow Up” is about celebrating life and feeling young, no matter how old you are.
Will this single be the start of a forthcoming EP/album or will it just be a standalone single?
This single has been an amazing experience. We were fortunate enough to work with producer Craig Alvin, who really made this song come together. We also began working on a couple other tunes that were excited about. We are still working out exactly what is coming next, but I’m excited to say there will be more music to come.
You recently signed with Reviver Music, how has that been for you?
Signing with Reviver Music has been a great fit. The label owner David Ross, has been really great to me and has taught me a lot already. He’s been amazing to work with and has really encouraged my artistry, he’s made me feel very much at home. He’s one of the hardest working guys I’ve ever met and it inspires me to do the same. We have a lot in the works right now and I can’t thank him enough for making it all happen. Clay Myers has been a huge part of this process as well. He’s been an invaluable resource between his knowledge, and his years in A&R. He has been sourcing songs and is how we came to “Grow Up”. David, and Clay have been working together for years and it’s really exciting to be a part of their team. Reviver has also been extremely helpful and encouraging with my own writing, I feel I’m exactly where I need to be to grow as an artist.
You and Ayla got engaged back in October 2020, the same month that Shelton got engaged to Gwen Stefani, do you have any wedding advice for them as they prepare to tie the knot soon?
We did! Ayla and I went on a trip during a break from The Voice to Acadia National park, up in Maine. I had been planning to ask her for a while knowing Acadia was one of the only places we both had never been before. We stayed in a cabin up there and I asked her on top of a mountain one evening. I’m just glad I didn’t drop the ring! When we got back a couple weeks later I saw Blake had done the same. That’s when I knew, great minds think alike! We both used our time off between the show wisely! Blake’s a smart guy, so I’m sure he’s letting Gwen make the wedding planning decisions, that would be my only advice!
I know things have probably been tough when thinking about wedding plans with the ongoing state of the world. But have you and Ayla began making any wedding plans in the works yet?
Sadly, no plans confirmed yet. We did think about eloping while we were driving through Las Vegas a couple weeks ago. However, we plan to have a music festival wedding where we get a bunch of our musician friends to play and have a big BBQ sometime next year!
You recently celebrated 5 years sober, congratulations, that is a huge milestone. Do you have any advice for those struggling with addiction?
Thank you! I consider my sobriety my biggest accomplishment. I use to feel like five days was impossible let alone five years. Sobriety is a long road, and it doesn’t do anyone struggling with addiction any good thinking about the daunting task of years, or the rest of their lives as living sober. “One day at a time” is the realist quote out there. Just get through today by any means necessary. There are thousands of inspirational quotes, and dozens of books for advice, so i’ll give you two quotes that changed my perspective the most. “You are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with”, and my favorite quote, “Baby steps count!” No matter how small of an improvement you make, it counts. Whatever you do, don’t give up!
You are on the advisory board of the New York based organization called Hope Rocks, which supports those struggling from addiction and depression. What does it mean to you to help others?
Helping others is what we are on this earth to do, Hope Rocks is a platform that elevates that. Their mission is to de-stigmatize mental illness, depression, addiction, and to bring hope to people. Being a small part of that mission, and to help where I can means the world to me. They are one of the only music festivals to be created around these issues that I’ve ever found, or heard of… anywhere! People don’t address this topic enough in an accessible way. Hope Rocks is doing something really beautiful. Check them out!
You and your family have been touring the Country in the ‘Flanivan’ for years, even prior to The Voice, can you tell us about life on the road with your family?
Life on the road is a constant adventure. We live in a big, beautiful country and its very inspiring to see it first hand, every 100 miles it seems to change entirely. You learn to live with the essentials, and less privacy! You trade a lot of luxuries you were use to for a different set of luxuries. A lot of living on the road is all perspective, some might think 3 people living in a 24’ van for almost 2 years is crazy. They’d be right, but, we looked at it as a way for us to see the country and build our family business together. You don’t need half the things you think you do, and this way of living really shows you that. These past few years have been some of the best in my life, and have brought us to places we just never could have experienced otherwise. We recently sold our motorhome and got a new, bigger travel trailer. One where we can all stand at the same time! It’s been a game changer. We still call it the ‘Flanivan’ and still plan to be on the road for the next few years. We do want to work towards a house one day, but I’m not sure when, or how much time we will spend in it.
What is it like raising a daughter on the road?
To be honest, at first it felt like we may be doing something wrong. When we bought our motorhome our daughter Kamea, was 5. I knew I could teach kindergarten math, but that was the extent of it for me. Ayla, my fiancé was homeschooled and was not afraid of taking teaching on at all. We had no-one to help guide us with this process, we just decided to sell everything and figure it out on the way. Homeschooling a kid while navigating the country, and touring as a musician has led to some unique hurdles, but I truly feel Kamea is becoming a one of a kind, beautiful human. In normal times she helps sell the Merch and is a part of the shows while learning what music and art means to her. I feel we get to introduce her to a lot of unique experiences. In just this past two weeks, she’s been in two major recording studios with world class artists, saw the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Nashville. It’s been a lot of fun.
What else is in store for you in the coming year?
A lot of music, a lot of travel, and a lot of writing. We’re all waiting to see how the state of the world develops and what that looks like for live shows. Im feeling hopeful and excited to get back to performing more regularly.