If you’ve been watching this season of NBC’s The Voice, I’m sure you’ve been as happy as we have to witness the artistry that is Cait Martin. Cait’s voice is both powerful and heavenly. Even though I have full faith that Cait will keep advancing round after round, I still hold my breath when she performs.
Cait was a 4-chair turn in The Blinds, beat out her opponent in the Battles, and gracefully slayed during the Knockouts with her rendition of Whitney Houston’s “All The Man That I Need”. Yes, I just said Whitney Houston. That shows you the level of mastery she has.
Cait Martin carved some time out of her schedule to chat with Will Focus for Taji Mag about her experience thus far.
Listen to the Interview Audio here
Will Focus [WF]: I’m just going to start by first saying congratulations, and I want to see how it made you feel just making it to the Playoffs on The Voice.
Cait Martin [CM]: This whole experience, every round you make it past, just kind of blows your mind because the talent is so high and you don’t know what they’re looking for. Ultimately, I feel like it comes down to just preference and who the coach wants to represent them as you get closer and closer to the final. You can sing your butt off, but that might not necessarily be what they’re looking for. So every time you make it further in the show, it’s really just kind of an amazing, blessed feeling.
WF: That’s awesome. Do you have any specific piece of advice that’s helped you excel to this level in the competition? Anything you would give anybody.
CM: This past round has really taught me to trust my gut and my instincts in who I am as a performer. You kind of have to stop saying, okay, well, I wonder what they want or [what] I have to do. You have to just try your best to be your most authentic self and present that because you already know you’re a good singer. You already know you’re going to be a hard worker. It’s just about figuring out how to authentically present yourself the best you can every round, so you have no regrets.
WF: How long do you feel it took for you to realize that component of what you just advised?
CM: I think it took me to get to the Knockout round. I knew I wanted to do something different and something that I could emotionally connect with for my Blind audition. With your battles the next round, you don’t get a say in the song that you choose, so you have to kind of find a way to not only bring yourself to that but also be able to bend and move and shift because you’re singing a duet with somebody else at the same time. So being malleable in that way. By the time I got to the knockouts, I knew I wanted to perform something that was going to just stand out on its own. And I got “All the Man I Need” by Whitney Houston. As I was preparing with that song, I went through so many different times where I was second-guessing myself and I had to really dig into myself and find out, okay, who am I going to be as an artist? I’m not going to be somebody that’s out here trying to sound like Whitney Houston. How can I bring Caitlin Martin to this iconic Whitney Houston song? And that’s really when I started to feel the shift in stepping into my own identity as a performer.
WF: So I actually have another question that’s related to something you just said, like in the blinds. Chance mentioned that your tones, especially your lower register, were reminiscent of Whitney’s. So did he plant that seed for your knockout performance of Whitney’s “All the Man That I Need”?
CM: Well, I’ve kind of known that a little bit about myself because Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, these great vocalists, are who I grew up listening to with my parents. So I kind of have picked up little nuances and inflections and things like that in my voice luckily was able to lend itself to as I grew and matured. So I’ve always wanted to have the opportunity to sing a Whitney Houston song and the fact that I got this one, it was like a little bit of foreshadowing, but I didn’t even know it was going to be able to happen when I got given this one. So it was definitely a really cool moment.
WF: Awesome. So 4 chair turn, right? For you, what solidified you choosing Kelly as your coach? Like, was it the jacket or your mom yelling Kelly from backstage? I’m just kidding, lol. But on a serious note, what was it that made you make that decision?
CM: Well, before we even have the opportunity to get out there to L.A., they ask us – because we don’t know who the coaches are going to be until we get out there and we’re rehearsing our songs and we’re doing everything so, we know for sure it’s going to be Blake because he’s always there, except this is his last season (lol). But we didn’t know that we were going to be having Kelly return. We didn’t know that we were getting two brand-new coaches that had never been on the show before. So they asked if you could have any coach, out of all the coaches who’ve ever been on The Voice, who would you want? And I said, oh, my God, Kelly Clarkson because I see myself in her career. She has the ability to take her voice and adapt it to so many different genres, and so many different types of music, and I wanted to be mentored by someone that would be able to help me kind of go down that same path. So having her not only be an option for me but being the first person to turn within a matter of seconds, I’m like, I got to go with my girl Kels.
WF: How important was that quick chair turn when you saw it? How important was that for you?
CM: The confidence in me wanted to be like, yeah, you got this! (lol) But I didn’t want to let that get to my head at all. So I kind of couldn’t even look at her. I had to look past her, and I’m like, just stick with the song. Stay in the moment, stay present, whatever else happens. Because after that, it’s like, no matter if nobody else turns around, you at least have one, right? You’re on the show. You have the opportunity to be able to do more. So just looking past her, but then I felt the chairs turn around and the audience cheers every time a chair turns around, and I’m like, Dang, everybody okay!
WF: All right. Let’s dial it back a little further. What is the feeling as you start to walk out? I want you to just explain that to me as you’re walking out onto that stage for the very first time, knowing what this could potentially mean to you and who you could connect with, what is that feeling as you’re about to walk out? What is the conversation you have maybe with your mom beforehand or with yourself as you’re entering that stage?
CM: Well, when you’re standing there waiting for those doors to open, you have a producer come and talk you through it. Make sure that you’re feeling confident, make sure that you’re feeling focused, and they help to remind you of why you’re doing this. Remember why you’re here, and channel your motivations and your inspiration as you’re about to get out there on stage. I know you’re nervous, but they said, we wouldn’t put you here if we didn’t think that you could do it. So walking out on the stage, you look straight across, and on the other side of the stage, I had my parents, so being able to see them gave me this kind of sigh of relief before I turned forward and saw the chairs and steadied myself to get ready to sing.
WF: That’s awesome. So in terms of impressions, what do you want to leave on those who you impress upon in terms of who you are, and who they see? What’s the lasting impression you’d like to leave on the hearts of America?
CM: That you can go for your dreams with kindness. You don’t have to compromise who you are as a person. You don’t have to compromise your integrity if you’re willing to work hard and be authentic to who you are as a person.
WF: Regarding your Whitney performance, how important is it to be still and in the moment with a performance like that?
CM: That was definitely the scariest of the three performances that I’d done thus far in the competition. That song is a beast because Whitney is a beast. She is channeling not only so many different types of emotions that she’s trying to convey in the song, but vocally. She’s using every register of her voice in that song. She’s using dynamics. She’s using her range. And I’m like, how can I make a version of this song that’s just as impactful and meaningful without singing? Like, I’m trying to copy Whitney because she’s incomparable. Nobody’s going to be able to sound like Whitney but I wanted to take the essence of what she put into that song and find a way to do it justice. It was a big moment but honestly, after I sang, I felt really proud because of the journey that I had to take to get to that moment with that song.
WF: Let Me commend you, I’m a big Whitney fan. So I watched your performance a couple of times when you did that song specifically and I think it’s interesting because Reba, when she realized the song you were about to do, she said, that’s a big thing! Anytime you hear someone is about to perform Whitney, you’re like all right, that’s a huge undertaking, are they going to live up to those expectations? In that moment you appeared to be yourself covering a Whitney song, I didn’t hear Whitney but I heard her capabilities. I heard the tone of your voice, performing with the skill set that she has which is huge.
CM: Wowww… That’s a big compliment.
WF: It was an amazing performance, but I think the most quality part of your performance was your ability to command the stage without having to move around the stage. A lot of the people who had large voices who became icons in our past, they’re able to command the stage with just their presence and their voice alone, there isn’t a lot of theatrics. Their voice actually creates those theatrics. It was an amazing performance, for me you became an instant favorite because of that performance. You hold your own in terms of making sure you stay true to yourself. So I just wanted to give you your flowers on that. That was amazing.
CM: Wow, thank you for that. I haven’t had anyone be able to articulate what they appreciated about the performance in that way and that’s honestly what I was trying to convey. I was most nervous that people would, like you said, say ‘oh she’s gonna sing a Whitney Houston song’ and compare me to somebody just trying to sound like Whitney or try to imitate her. And I really wanted to bring myself to her song and for you to be able to see that – it really means a lot.
WF: You did amazing. From the way you started and then when you pulled that mic away and walked and started performing – amazing you did exactly what it was you set out to do.
CM: Oh man, thank you! I asked for the mic stand actually.
WF: Oh did you?
CM: I was like I’m going to need y’all to give me a stand for this one. Just give me a moment and let me just sing.
WF: I’m thankful that you’re on the show and you’re doing a great job. Thank you for taking the time to speak with us. If there are any last words you want to give to someone who is coming up who is a singer, who isn’t so sure about themselves, what can you tell them that might help them pave the way for themselves?
CM: Trust yourself. Do the work that it takes to find yourself as an artist, don’t try to be anyone else. Take the things you love about music, and your favorite artists, figure out why you love those things, figure out how you can make those things your own, and bring something uniquely you to your performance. That’s going to be the thing that sets you aside for success.
Cait Martin has spent years performing and traveling as a theatrical vocalist on tours and cruise ships. In 2019, Cait got a call that her sister Jaimie collapsed at work from a pulmonary embolism. She rushed home to be by her side, but Jaimie died a few days later at the age of 32. Cait lost her lust for life and spent more than a year living at home with her parents and turned inward. Slowly, she came out of her sadness when she realized singing was her gift that brings joy to others. Cait is currently doing voiceover work and musicals and creates original music on the side.
Follow Cait Martin’s journey on Instagram at @caitmartinsings and be sure to vote for her when the Playoffs are live on NBC’s The Voice.