Setting The Stage: Virginia Musician Sid Kingsley Secures a Spot on The Voice

THE VOICE -- "Blind Auditions" Episode 1902 -- Pictured: Sid Kingsley -- (Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC)

By Julia Raimondi
October 20, 2020

Richmond native talks about his music and his experiences auditioning in a world reshaped by COVID-19

RICHMOND-There isn’t much going on these days in the music industry because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Without live performances at local gigs, it can be difficult for artists to get their sound out there. But Richmond-based musician Sid Kingsley hopes to do so with the help of NBC’s The Voice. On Tuesday’s episode, Kingsley successfully auditioned and joined Team Legend. Shortly before that, he sat down with Julia Raimondi to discuss what being on The Voice during a pandemic is like, and what he has planned for the near future:

Q: A year ago, you released your “Sweet Virginia” EP and collaborated with Jordan Stoll. Since then, where has your career taken you?

A: We were touring up and down the East Coast. And then COVID hit in March and kind of put things on a pause for everybody. I had to switch gears into doing more recording. 

During that time my fiancée wanted me to do The Voice auditions. I agreed and she sent off a video. We got a call back immediately to do an audition. We did that and then I kinda forgot about it. I hadn’t even given it any thought. And then they called to do another audition. I went and that was in February. So I again forgot about it. I guessed I didn’t make it. It was as soon as everything shut down from COVID that I got a call from The Voice. They said, “Hey, you made it!” I was like, “Uh, okay I don’t know what’s going on because COVID is happening. I don’t know if anything’s happening.” So that’s that’s where my career has been since a year ago. It’s been a pretty crazy twelve months.

Q: Going more into your decision process for auditioning for The Voice: You mentioned your fiance brought it up to you first. So what made you agree to send that video in?

A: Pretty much after every show that I’ve ever played there’s been someone that comes up and says, “You should audition for The Voice.” I shrug it off and it never even enters my mind. I never thought of myself as a vocalist in that way – to be good enough to be The Voice. That’s never been my focus. My focus has been instruments and playing piano. Singing was just something I did so I never gave it much thought. Eventually enough people kept saying it. So I started to entertain the idea. 

There was an open call audition – which is one of the big auditions where they come to your city and everyone waits in line. I was going to do it but the ROCKN’ to LOCKN’ festival was on the very same day as the open call audition. I decided the audition was a long shot. Instead, we found out you could send in a video to audition. So my fiancee sent in a video that we had taken for a different thing that wasn’t even specifically for The Voice. 

Q: After you heard back from them and they said they wanted you on the show, what happened next? How did COVID complicate it?

A: They called in March, just after everything shut down. I was bartending at that point. All that stopped. I was basically having a panic attack over the whole COVID thing so while they were telling me about it I was trying to sound excited. Normally I would have been like, “Oh my gosh! This is awesome! They’re calling me and want me to do this!” But I was in-between freaking out over losing my job and the whole country shutting down and this great news so I didn’t really know how to react. It was even open-ended from them: “We don’t know when we’re going to bring you out to L.A. or if we’re going to bring you out. We don’t know.” It was just over the big question mark.
Courtesy of NBC, here’s a look at Sid Kingsley’s original blind audition.

Q: How did you end up getting to Los Angeles for filming?

A: They offered to fly me out there and I had to get a COVID test. We had to take lots of COVID tests. But I actually took a train out there instead of a plane all the way from Richmond to L.A.. I fly and I will fly but if I don’t have to fly then I won’t. Especially during COVID, the idea of being in a closed metal tube breathing recirculated air didn’t sit too well with me. At least on a train you’re getting a mixture of outside air. 

Q: How was The Voice audition in a COVID world? I’m sure it wasn’t like auditions under normal circumstances.

A: Everything was a little more difficult and meticulous to do. We quarantined when we got there and we had to take a COVID test. I couldn’t leave my hotel room. [I] quarantined for nine or ten days, not leaving the hotel room for anything. 

I was taking COVID seriously to begin with, but they were taking it to a whole other level of seriousness because it’s a huge production. You have a lot of people with jobs on the line. One person gets sick and it can endanger the entire production. Everybody’s wearing a mask, sometimes even double masks. We had to wear a N95 mask with a surgical mask on top of it. They would only have so many people on set at any given time when normally you would have a whole crew of people out there. There were a lot of precautions. I don’t know what it looks like normally but I know what it looked during COVID and they were hyper-vigilant. 

Q: What was it like just auditioning for the four judges without a large live audience sitting behind them?

A: Normally there would be a live studio audience. I was on the soundstage and there was a virtual audience but I couldn’t hear them. That is obviously not the same. On television it looks like the coaches are miles away from you but in reality they’re right there. More than six feet away, but closer than I thought. So it was definitely very intimate. It felt like I was singing for four people right there instead of a large audience. 

But it was no more emotional or stressful than any other gigs that I’ve ever done. I get nervous before I play anywhere. It doesn’t matter if it’s for four A-list superstar celebrities or a thousand people. And I’ve never played in a scenario where somebody was judging whether what I was doing was good enough or worthy enough. I also tried not to think about the fact that a lot of people were going to be seeing this. Then you add in the COVID element to it and that’s a whole other level of stress. I was emotionally drained after. It took me about two days to recover after filming from the emotional stress that I put on.

But as far as playing for the judges, they are just people. I’m not placing them on that pedestal of being A-list celebrities. They’re just doing a job, I’m just doing a job. 

Q: Who did turn their chairs around?

A: Three out of four chairs turned around. The only chair that didn’t turn was Kelly Clarkson. And I ended up choosing John Legend. Any of the coaches would have been great. They all are very accomplished people in the industry and they’re all amazing. But I picked John Legend because I think he’s an amazing songwriter and he’s got an amazing voice. And we both play piano. So it went really well. I was pleasantly surprised that I got that many chair turns. You know, if I got only one chair to turn, I would have been ecstatic.

Q: For fans that want to keep up with what music you’re putting out and where you’re heading next, where can they find your music and follow you?

A: For music, go to Spotify. Just look up Sid Kingsley, I’m the only one there is which is awesome. I’m on Instagram under Sid Kingsley. I’m on Facebook under Sid Kingsley Music. Those are the best ways to reach out and follow along. I’ll also be vlogging on my YouTube channel when I’m able.

Q: What music are you working on outside of doing The Voice?

A: I have stuff cooking. I have songs that have been recorded and I’m waiting to put them out. Just during this time I can’t really yet. But there’s definitely a lot more coming out and I’m writing constantly so, yes, there are things in the works.

Julia Raimondi is a freelance writer for Dogwood. She can be reached at [email protected].

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