By: Matthew W. Maxey
Season six of NBC’s hit show The Voice is set to premiere with a two-night event starting Monday, March 24, at 7 p.m., and when viewers tune in they will see one of Nashville’s own looking for her biggest break yet. Cali Tucker, the daughter of country music singer LaCosta Tucker and niece of country music legend Tanya Tucker, has grown up in and around the music business her whole life but sees this as the biggest opportunity she’s ever had.
“This is easily the biggest break I’ve gotten,” she said Thursday in an interview. “I’ve been signed with labels and publishing companies before, toured and performed my whole life just always trying to get a break, but this is easily my biggest.”
Originally filmed four months ago, Tucker has had to keep quiet about The Voice auditions until now, and for obvious reasons can’t reveal the results until after the show airs. Looking back though, she described what the audition process was like.
“There is really nothing else like it in the world,” she recalled. “I get nervous just like everyone else and there is nothing really that can prepare you for it. In all it was nerve racking – and it was exciting – but getting up on that stage was just surreal.”
Tucker did not just end up performing on stage at The Voice by happenstance either; she has been working on her craft since she was four-years-old. It was then, 24 years ago, at that youthful age that she started making television appearances on Hee Haw and at live shows with her mother and aunt.
“My mom and Tanya would always pull me out on stage to sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and songs like that when I was little. I got a taste for the stage at that young age and I remember myself and my cousins being back stage during shows literally peeking out the corner and it was just such a rush of excitement. Ever since then I’ve just craved that rush and excitement of the stage.”
As she grew up that love of the stage remained. In 2000 she won the crown as Miss Teen America and traveled across the country as a representative and spokesperson. Then when she turned 18 she got a birthday present from her aunt in the form of performing with Tanya at the Grand Ole Opry and in that same year she was also chosen to be a performer and dancer at Dolly Parton’s “Dollywood.”
Despite her accomplishments and growing up on a tour bus until the age of seven in the heart of the music business, it doesn’t automatically open doors like people think it might. She noted that, “Things are very different now than when my mom and Tanya were starting out.”
“It is a lot more difficult now. People always ask why don’t you just get your family to help you, but it doesn’t just work like that. They have helped me all they can and gotten me in front of a lot of people, but also it has taken me some time to really hone my craft and figure out what style of music I want to do.”
Like so many other aspiring artists, Tucker has been playing around Nashville chasing her dream for years while also working to pay the bills. She has been a regular at Silver Dollar Saloon, Puckett’s and a number of other spots around town, but playing and also having to work a full time job at Brewhouse 100 in Bellevue made achieving her dream more of a challenge.
Now 28, she has decided that now is the time to chase her dream full time if it is going to happen. She left her job and is now focused solely on pursuing her music dream, hopefully also getting a boost from The Voice.
“I was telling my mom just this week, I really don’t know what else I would do, there is really nothing else I want to do.”
She credits her family largely for giving her the confidence to step out and go after her dream full time. “I’ve always wanted to work and not be a burden on my family, but they have been really supportive since I decided to quit my job and go after this full time. I’ve been very lucky.”
It was also her mom, LaCosta, who actually pushed Tucker toward even auditioning for The Voice. She got a call from her one day last year and she said simply, “You and your sister-in-law need to go out to Vegas and try out for The Voice.”
Loving Las Vegas and never needing much of an excuse to go out there anyway, Tucker hoped on a plane and headed west. “I thought, I’ll go try out and if I don’t make it, well, at least I’m still in Vegas having a blast.”
“I got out there and I was the first one in line at about 3 a.m. When I went in and did the audition I made it through the first round and then kept getting yeses on through the rest of the tryout rounds.”
On the show Tucker’s performance wasn’t a true country hit that many might have expected given her family lineage. We’ll have to wait and see how it goes but she said of her music style that, “I’ve been pigeon holed to do country music of course, but that is not really where my love and my artistry are. It’s really more into a bluesy rock combination. I want people to know I’m not riding the coat tails of anyone in my family.”
“The Voice is a great opportunity for me to showcase myself and show people who I am. Hopefully they like me and will continue to follow me and my progress. I’m really looking forward to where this takes me.”