Branden “Avery” Wilson
Avery Wilson, who was professionally trained as a dancer, is now turning heads as the teenage powerhouse singer with the electrifying vibrato on Season 3 of NBC’s hit reality talent show The Voice.During the show’s “Blind Auditions” the celebrity coaches were so awed by Avery’s rendition of Usher’s part on David Guetta’s “Without You” that all four of them swiveled their chairs around to see him sing it. Adam Levine of Maroon 5 was the first at 26 seconds. CeeLo Green was next, then Christina Aguilera and Blake Shelton. They all bargained to become the then 16-year-olds mentor.
Avery thoughtfully chose the Grammy-winning singer-songwriter CeeLo; Usher tweeted his approval of Avery’s melodious take. Episodes later, Avery blasted away the competition in the “Battles” during a duet of Guetta’s “Titanium” proving once again that this tenor’s voice is simply infectious.
“Prodigy.” “Fantastic.” “Engaging.” This is what critics are saying about Avery.
After being one out of the 35,000 Voice wannabes who stood in line at the New York City regional auditions, Avery has gained more than that in fans since making it on the show. His Voice audition recap has garnered nearly 1.2 million views on YouTube. His Twitter fans, better known as Averyators, total more than 13,000. He receives 200-plus emails from fans daily. All of this happened just one month into the Voice competition.
The Hamden, Connecticut native so impressed the show’s coaches, their exclamatory sound bites tell it all:
“You deserve to be a star!”— CeeLo
“You can’t teach that.”—Christina Aguilera
“You’re one of the guys who make this all worth it.”—Blake Shelton
Interestingly enough Avery, up until two years ago, was a reluctant singer who only shared his talent at the behest of his father, Gramen Wilson, who saw a future in his son’s voice. “One day I was humming, as all people do,” says Avery. “My father heard me and told me ‘From this day, you are not a dancer who sings. You are a singer who dances!” After the reactions from The Voice Avery now says: “I wanted to tour and dance; now I’ll tour and sing.” Avery, who was born Branden Avery Wilson on July 18, 1995, is the youngest of three brothers who were raised by Gramen, a director of operations at McDonald’s and Teresa, a nurse at Yale-New Haven Hospital. At 6’4,” he is the tallest in the family and an all-around talent. He plays the guitar and the piano and writes songs. He tumbles and flips like a gymnast. He was trained in the disciplines of tap, jazz, hip-hop and ballet. When Avery was 9 years old, his father showcased his latent talent at local grocery stores, convenience shops and the famous fast-food joint. “The first time was Walgreen’s. I thought we were going to buy regular things like cough medicine or something,” says Avery. “My dad saw a friend and said, ‘Hey such and such this is my son and he can sing’.’’ Avery recalls singing The Jackson 5’s “Never Can Say Goodbye.” “If I didn’t dance to it, I wouldn’t have known it.”
Gramen enjoyed showing off his son’s talent on the spot. But Avery didn’t enjoy singing. Like the child who is forced to play piano with promises that he will be thankful later in life, Gramen promised while Avery was the frustrated child. The impromptu singing gigs continued with open mic nights, some of them at the local McDonald’s. Gramen would have staff focus the store monitors on the makeshift stage where Avery was a regular. People began to see the star in Avery even when he didn’t. “I finally grew to understood why my dad was pushing me,” Avery shares. “People told me how my voice touched them and changed their life and healed them from certain situations. That made me happy that I could do that. That it wasn’t dance that made them happy but my voice made me realize if I can do that then I understand why he pushes me.” By 14, performing live became natural for Avery, who took the stage name Jus B. A MySpace page still in existence is a testament to Gramen’s vision that Avery would make a great singer. On songs like “It Never Ends” and “Ring Tone” the pitch and tone of Avery’s voice is remarkable even then.
A year before Avery auditioned for The Voice he was a runner-up on America’s Got Talent, but didn’t land an on-air spot. Most would agree the latter wouldn’t showcase the expertise Avery honed as an on-the-spot singer during his younger years in Hamden as The Voice would. While contemporary dance tracks are making the Cooperative Arts & Humanities High School senior famous now, Avery lists R&B greats Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway and Rachelle Ferrell as major influences. “These people take into consideration what the song is about and how to convey the message. They take what they can do with their voice and tie it with emotion and make a connection. That’s why you fall in love with them. They know what they are talking about; they know what they are singing about.” Avery likes to take a similar approach to songs. Before singing he reads the lyrics to get a feel for what the songwriter was trying to convey. It’s that maturity that keeps fans searching for him on YouTube. Without having his own sound just yet, Avery aspires to sing songs that have meaning and purpose. On the YouTube page Avery Musicxx viewers watch Avery take a popular Fat Joe song “Don’t You Be Holding Back” and turn it into “Let it Out” for a PSA against child molestation. Both of his personal YouTube pages AverySINGG and Avery MusicXX are frequently updated with fan shout outs and uplifting messages. They serve as an archive for the singer’s covers that range from Chaka Khan to Frank Ocean.
All the pomp Avery puts into his on-air performances is matched by his sincerity. Knowing that The Voice can be a platform for something other than his singing while he is still a contestant, Avery wants to be an advocate for people who have felt like misfits as he has and sometimes still does. Being 6’4,” Avery was always the tall, awkward kid with the high-pitched voice. “I have been picked on for my height and my voice, which was extremely high,” Avery recalls of his life before. “I feel like I can be a voice for the kids who don’t fit in. Being different is the new normal and it’s cool to be imperfectly perfect.”
When he’s not taping, Avery spends time with his family and the six dachshunds they share. He doesn’t have a stylist so he shops high end and thrift. But the singer who was once averse to singing now feels most comfortable in the studio and on stage. It’s where he says he can be himself. “I feel like God has a place for me,” Avery shares. “I have been working very hard all my life and He is letting me know that it is time for my gift to make room for me.”
Stay tuned for this frontrunner during the “Knockouts” on The Voice.