They say girls just wanna have fun and Beverly McClellan did just that on NBC's The Voice. From Joan Jett to Janis Joplin and Cyndi Lauper to Etta James, McClellan arrested audiences with a spirit reminiscent to iconic voices that have maintained their generational appeal. Recording parts of her post-Voice album Fear Nothing in Nashville, Tennessee, McClellan returns this weekend to perform for Nashville Pride.
McClellan is giving Tennessee Pride festivalgoers a one-two punch as she will follow up Nashville Pride with a Knoxville PrideFest performance June 22. O&AN caught up with McClellan in between shows including International Mr. Leather in Chicago to chat about the first days on The Voice, her influences and what's next for the out singer.
You had found success in some music circles prior to The Voice– did you ever think you’d do a reality singing competition?
Oh My Gosh, no way. I fell into this by a greater design; I did not go looking for this. A friend sent me an email and I responded thinking it was a joke and it turned out to be real. It was my fate and my time, I believe.
The Voice openly addressed its contestants sexuality- was this important to you?
I was going to be myself, regardless. I can’t change me nor can I hide me. I don’t want to anyway. We are who we are and they had no choice or I wouldn’t have done it.
I am proud, shouldn’t everyone be? I couldn’t imagine hiding it and living a double life. I did that until I was 14 and then Mom found a box of letters in my closet and well the hiding stopped then so I guess I have been out since I was a teen.
You’re beautiful inside and out and your voice is powerful, did you ever fear though that your look may have been unconventional for television viewers?
Maybe there was a part of me that worried about that but 99% of me didn’t care. I felt it was an advantage for them to not see me but to only judge my voice. I liked that aspect, that was cool.
You released Fear Nothing but what else has have you been up since The Voice?
Touring behind Fear Nothing, guesting on Steve Vai’s new album and touring the world with him and taking the time to do Prides.
You're performing at both Knoxville and Nashville Pride, have you ever performed in Tennessee before?
Yes, many times over the years and most recently with BB King and Steve Vai. It doesn’t get any better than that.
I saw you last year at Atlanta Pride, is playing pride festivals different from other gigs?
I like to think that music is for everyone across the board but I do connect with a lot of young people at Prides and the music seems to empower them. Everyone needs a Cyndi Lauper, a Joan Jett, an Etta James or Janis Joplin. Cyndi defined what I was at 13; she was beautiful with pink hair and an individual look. She was a strong talented woman who wasn’t the norm but the world embraced her. If I can be for someone what she was for me, that is awesome.
Which artists are in current rotation on your iPod?
Cyndi Lauper, Etta James, Janis Joplin, Rihanna, Adele, The Black Keyes, Pistol Annies, Vicci Martinez and Dia.
What’s next for Beverly McClellan?
More touring . . . and a new album is in the works but more on that later.