Country singer Ian Flanigan on Blake Shelton and the life lessons learned: “Be yourself, man”
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Nashville-based country music singer-songwriter Ian Flanigan — “The Voice Season 19” runner-up — is the creative force behind the current single, “Grow Up,” featuring Blake Shelton.
It has had over 2 million streams so far and that number is growing rapidly. But that’s just one piece of his personal achievement — which, like most musicians’ early years, had its share of plenty of bumps and interesting struggles earlier.
“I’m focused on working very hard and staying on track.”
At next month’s CMA Fest, Flanigan will be among hundreds of artists from downtown Nashville; the festival returns this year after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a recent interview with Fox News Digital, Flanigan – born in upstate New York and now based in Nashville – said, “I feel really good where I am now and on the team that I have it in place, and I’m focused on working really hard and staying on track.”
Here are highlights from a Fox News Digital interview with Flanigan about her role models, growing up in New York, life lessons learned — and more.
“How Blake Shelton Saved Me”
“When I walked into ‘The Voice,’ I recognized that I was with some of the best singers on the planet — so I really wasn’t necessarily planning on reaching the final or anything,” Flanigan said. .
Blake Shelton, Flanigan said, “saved me many times for the show. He was the only one who turned around at the start.”
Flanigan also said of Shelton: “He gave me a lot of insight. I’m a baritone, so I always sing pretty low – and at one point I said to him, ‘You know, I didn’t really those high-pitched ‘notes’, and he said, ‘You just gotta be yourself.’”
“He’s really good at appreciating authenticity and championing that — and owning your originality,” Flanigan said.
Blake Shelton “always pulled me down and said, ‘Just be yourself, man. That’s all you have to do.’”
“Especially in the arts or anything these days – and with social media – you can get caught up thinking you should be something else. He always pushed me back and said, ‘Be yourself, man. That’s all you have to do. ” “
“And he does that himself in his own career,” Flanigan added, “that’s why I think so many people love him and he’s been so successful.”
Flanigan recently opened for Blake Shelton in Gatlinburg, Tennessee at “Spring Blake”.
“We had a great time,” Flanigan, 31, said. “And I still have to thank him and talk to him a bit.”
He added that “Shelton is a very busy guy and I try not to bother him too much! But I always love connecting with him and talking with him. He’s amazing.”
What he learned growing up in Saugerties, NY
Flanigan grew up in Saugerties, NY, in Ulster County, on the west bank of the Hudson River.
“I grew up four miles from Woodstock, NY. The Hudson Valley music scene is really intense,” he said. “There are a lot of heavyweights up there.”
Nearby, he says, is “Levon Helm’s studio, [home of] the midnight hike. The caliber of musicians up there has always pushed me to be the best I can be in multiple genres, especially Americana, country and folk.”
Flanigan said “the best thing I’ve ever taken from my hometown is that being a musician has always been a highly valued career path, regardless of the outcome.”
“I really got my education on the road, from older musicians.”
“I always had the support of my hometown. I was never asked ‘about its ambitions or anything,’ he says, ‘because it might not necessarily have been the best career choice financially. I’ve always been backed by that.”
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Flanigan said he started playing guitar and singing in bars around the age of 17 – “and never looked back”.
He said that in high school he took music lessons and learned a lot about the guitar during those private lessons. “But I really got my education on the road, from older musicians,” he said.
Why he says ‘following your passion will make you work 10 times harder’
“The main thing I’ve learned over time,” Flanigan said, “is to follow your passion. If you do that, you’ll work 10 times harder” at what you love than if you do something you love. you do not. take care of a lot.
“Find a way to make it work, if that’s what you want,” he said.
He said there were a few years when “it might not have looked like I was on the right track”.
“But you just have to keep chasing” your dreams, he said.
“I realized, we’re building a really big team, and we’re starting to get much more ongoing support.”
“About three and a half years ago,” Flanigan said, “my fiancé, with my daughter-in-law — we sold everything we owned and moved into a 24-foot Winnebago. to make one as we could.”
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There were times during this trip, he said, when he wondered if he had done the right thing.
He said it was after being on ‘The Voice’ that he started working with Reviver Music – and “I realized, we’re building a really big team, and we’re starting to get support in a lot more ways. continues that we can rely on, ”he added – as opposed to the independent scene, he said.
He said otherwise, “you end up doing a lot of unique pieces.”
But with a team, “I knew we were doing the right thing.”
How he appreciates those who supported him 100%
Flanigan paid tribute to his partner, Ayla, for all she does and has done to help him on his musical journey.
“My fiancée, Ayla, has worked as hard as I, if not harder, for the same goal,” he said. He cited his “incredible management skills and artistry” as key to his success.
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He said “it’s all about the team”.
No matter what skills and ambitions one can bring musically – it’s the team – the family, the village – that ensures success, he said.
“She has been my number one supporter throughout this incredible journey. Not a day goes by that I am not grateful to her,” he said.
In the coming year, Flanigan said, he “hopes to do as many shows as possible” and is excited about the opportunities to perform and gain exposure to audiences and music fans.
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Flanigan’s music has been described as “an eclectic mix of progressive country/Americana and percussive fingerstyle”. He appeared on stage with Blake Shelton as well as John Fogerty, Grace Potter, Tedeschi Trucks, Corey Glover, Chris Knight, Dwight Yoakam and others.
Flanigan is also behind the single “Under A Southern Sky” (available on all digital platforms).