Name: Julian King
Hometown: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Behind the excitement of a contestant getting a turn from one of the The Voice’s four judges is the story of the hard work it took to get to that moment. Julian King grew up in the church which is the home of the birth and growth of exceptional talents like himself. From becoming musically gifted early on, Julian continued to sharpen his craft by attending Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts and earned his bachelor’s degree in Vocal Performance at The University of the Arts.
After initial doubts from singing competition rejections and consistent dedication to come into his own as an artist with his debut EP, Sing For You, in 2017 and traveling to perform in his city of Philly to as far as China, Julian has now grown confident in his sound and is prepared to take on Season 16 of The Voice.
Ngozi Nwanji: Which part of Philly are you from?
Julian King: I’m from Uptown which is the West Oak Lane, Mount Airy, and Germantown area.
How would you say the history of Philly’s music scene has played a role in your music upbringing?
JK: Because Philly is so rich musically I feel like that’s where all my references came from when I was younger. We moved back here from San Diego and around that time is when Musiq Soulchild was really popular. Jill Scott was beyond popular and then Vivian Green; Philly was really thriving. And, they served as references as to what I inspired to be.
I know you’ve talked about the greats like Musiq and Jill, but who are some upcoming underground Philly artists that you’re rooting for?
JK: I haven’t really been out much to be completely honest. There’s a guy named Beano French who I think is super talented and his sister, Just Frenchie. Both of them are extremely talented.
I want to backtrack into the start of your music journey. How far along into your childhood did you first become really interested in music?
JK: I was growing up in church. And, you know music is very deeply rooted into church. So, I was already growing up with those influences and those avenues to express my creativity. I didn’t really think too much of it because I was just singing and dancing in church. It wasn’t really a thing up until like 8th grade. I did a musical and then it kind of changed the trajectory of what I wanted to do because I originally wanted to be a veterinarian.
Was The Voice your first TV singing competition that you auditioned for?
JK: Not the first that I’ve auditioned for. I’ve auditioned for X Factor, America’s Got Talent, The Four. I even auditioned for The Voice before and I didn’t make it.
How were those experiences different in contrast to of this audition for The Voice?
JK: Well, this experience I made it the furthest on this one. And, with the other ones I was much younger. I don’t think that I was ready and I found myself at a place where I kind of was like, '“Maybe this singing show thing really isn’t for me”. And, having a talent people are always like “Oh, you should audition for American Idol or The Voice” and it really isn’t that easy. It takes a lot of work to get to that blind audition. Like, a lot of work. So, kudos to anyone who even makes it on these stages to audition in front of the judges.
What were your thoughts before stepping on to the stage?
JK: I just kept telling myself that I didn’t really have anything to prove. I had already felt really comfortable with the song. So, it wasn’t that I felt pressured musically, but I felt pressured to turn around chairs.
How does that feel though? Because I know people talk about how it’s really nerve wracking to sing to the back of the judges’ chairs.
JK: It is because it’s like I only have a minute and thirty seconds to try to prove to these four people that I’m worth their time. And, they’re also not looking at me. It’s not like they can look at me and be like, “Oh, he kinda dresses cool”. So, it’s solely based off the voice.
You sang Jon Bellion’s “All Time Low”, but I heard some R&B influences throughout. Who would you say growing up inspired you musically?
JK: Definitely JT and Usher. Beyonce, Brandy, Jazmine Sullivan, Boyz II Men, Stevie.
Are there any other genres that have also influenced you other than R&B?
JK: In my spare time I really enjoy listening to movie scores. Gospel music is also a huge influence on my life. And, I enjoy radio music.
Regardless of how far you make it in the competition, what do you hope to learn from the experience?
JK: I really just hope to soak in as much as I can from John Legend. I think we have a lot of similarities vocally, musically, style wise. Not very many people get to get coached by someone that they actually really look up to. John was already a favorite of mine before the show. And, I honestly didn’t even know that he was going to be a coach until a little bit before the blinds and that’s when everyone else found out. The timing was really perfect. I want to learn as much as I can about being on television and sets; I really enjoy it actually. And, I just want to enjoy the journey and experience because it’ll be over soon. So, how can I just capitalize on that, cultivate relationships with the contestants & staff, network and just be a sponge.