'The Voice' winner Todd Tilghman says Blake Shelton brought him out of comfort zone: 'That's why I picked him'
When 41-year-old pastor and father of eight Todd Tilghman auditioned for Season 18 of 'The Voice' this year, he probably never could have predicted he would end up winning the show. After spending his life in service to others, Todd finally chose to do something for himself and his family. And following the big finale on Tuesday, the singer is ready to take the world of country music by storm.
MEA WorldWide (MEAWW) got a chance to speak with Todd about his experience on the at-home rendition of 'The Voice', what being mentored by Blake Shelton was like and what the future holds for him.
You've had a bit of time to process this, but how does it feel being a winner of 'The Voice'?
I really don't think I've done any processing. I don't even think I've processed that I was even on 'The Voice', much less that I won it! But honestly the whole process, in the best way possible, was really humbling for me.
Why do you think America connected with you on such a deep level?
I really don't know. What I will say is I just tried to be as genuine as I possibly could and I just tried to put myself out there. I like to have fun. A lot of times, life just isn't what you'd want it to be. And so I tried to just laugh and smile and hop around and enjoy myself and hope that maybe it'll lighten the mood. And maybe that connected with people.
Life certainly doesn't always go according to plan. The pandemic caused 'The Voice' to have a very different season this year. What was that whole experience like?
Obviously we were all a little disappointed to find out that we were going to be doing the show remotely, but as time passed, I feel like it was just meant to be that way, at least for me. There were a lot of things that played out, maybe not necessarily in the eyes of America or on the show, but in my own heart. I felt like I turned the corner during the Top Nine performance of 'Love, Me', which never would have been like that had I been in California. It was what it was because I was here with my family.
Life changes and you adapt and we got to learn a lot of new things. So even though there was that initial disappointment because we've been looking toward this and now it's not happening like we imagined, once I got past that, I'm appreciative of it.
What was it like working with Blake Shelton as your coach?
It was really very comfortable and a lot of fun. That's why I picked Blake Shelton. I had a feeling that he would be almost like a friend. And now, I feel like we are friends. So it was just a remarkable experience.
A lot of people see his fun side on the show, but we rarely get to see what a fantastic mentor he is. Do you have any specific moments with him that inspired you?
Blake has a way of daring you to step out of your comfort zone. He's really hands-on with song choices and is really very involved in what you're saying. He had a way of steering me in a direction that I would have loved to go, but I'd never really thought I could.
And so some of the country songs that I did, I love that music. I just never thought I had the voice for that until he steered me in that direction. And it turns out it worked really well. The public seemed to really love it and now it's a real possibility for me.
So we can expect more country music from you, then?
Yeah. I think I'll sort of veer toward country. I don't know exactly what "subgenre" I'll be in, but that's what I'm going to aim for. Hopefully, I'll hit somewhere near the bullseye.
Would you be interested in trying other genres, besides country?
I love worship and gospel music. I don't know if that would be strictly the field that I want to go into, even though I think it's a necessity in the world. I feel like the way that I'm supposed to present that kind of message to the world is different from that, though.
I'm also a huge fan of Southern rock, like the Allman Brothers and Leonard Skinner. But the reason that I lean a little bit more towards country is because Southern Rock is not known for any big, beautiful ballads, which I love doing. And the coaches on the show liked them too, they kept giving me those big ballads!
Usually following the win, there's a tour and a record deal, which unfortunately is going to pan out a little differently this year. Could you share some details about the status of the tour and your upcoming debut album?
Record deals are weird. I've never been involved with that, and there's a lot of little moving pieces and parts to that, but it's definitely still on the table.
I don't know about touring, but I do know that through this experience, we will be more appreciative of things like live music. Maybe we took it for granted before. What I can say for sure, whichever route we end up taking, music is for sure comin'. I just don't know how long and under what umbrella you might find it, but it's comin'.
Were there any specific moments on the show that were really memorable to you?
A couple. I'll go in sequential order. First of all, at the end of the knockout round when it came to Blake, I'll never forget how he mentioned that you never see me without a smile on my face. A lot of times people don't understand you do that sort of thing deliberately. You don't necessarily feel super happy but you want to be a person who brings happiness to the room if you can. So it's nice that he noticed that.
The second was the 'Love, Me' performance in the Top 9. It just changed my heart about this whole thing and just watching that back reminded me how personal music really is to me and that I'm not just here to sing for these coaches and win a show, but these are my people and my family. And music is a big part of that.
And finally, a highlight was working with Blake and Ester [Dean] and Shane [McAnally] from Songland. That was just so much fun. I would do that 10 times over if I could.
Given the world situation right now, are there any words of wisdom of hope you could share to help people get through these trying times?
I would tell people that what you see right in front of you right now, those things that are tangible to us, they are a small part of a bigger and better story. So just understand that even though this pandemic and all these things are here right now, we really can find hope in knowing that this is just a part of the story, this is not the whole thing.
My favorite line in 'Long Way Home' is that "Life's a melody of hope that we're all singing." We just have to hang on to our hopes and we will come out on the other side of it. Sometimes we want to reach the top of the mountain without climbing it, but you don't get to do that right now. This is the climbing part, I guess.