If you are a fan of NBC’s The Voice, then the name Jonathas will certainly ring some bells. He was the soulful powerhouse from Season 2 who was cut in the final battle round, just before the ultimate live competition. Jonathas was a fan favorite, bringing something new to the competition…a Brazilian who could sing Usher’s U Got it Bad better than Usher himself (yes, I said it!). For those that aren’t as familiar, Jonathas migrated to the United States on a boat for over a month with his mother at the age of four. Growing up poor, music is what he turned to at a young age and it has become the one thing that could help provide for his family. Now living in Texas at the age of 24, he has a wife and two kids and drops his debut album, Numb, which is slated to be something that the R&B game needs. Check out my interview with Jonathas and see what he has to say about his upcoming album, his migration to the U.S. and choosing team Christina on The Voice.
Tell me about your journey from Brazil to the U.S.
I came to the States when I was about 4 or 5 years old. I was on a cruise ship with me and my older brother and my mom was pregnant with my younger brother. We came to the States super young and Austin was one of the first stops we made. Singing was always a part of my life…I tried to enter as many things as I could; we grew up really poor so money was always a situation and we tried to scramble around and get into as many free things and contests as we could.
At what point did you know that singing was a passion and something that you were going to follow for the long haul?
I gotta say when I was probably in Middle School, there was a big show that I did and I lead the choir and had these big solos and I knew from there exactly what I wanted to do. I had to grow up and learn everything on my own [including] all the studio stuff, so I just started taking it to the next level. Middle School was really it…not only was I like, “I can do this” but I love to do it and I love to hear the fans yell. It was what I wanted ever since I was young.
Even though this is your passion, it’s obviously a way for you to provide for your family. Given the struggle that you’ve had early on in life, does that add any extra pressure to succeed?
Yes, absolutely! I make a little money here and there, but I also work part-time. I’m 24 hours, fully committed to this music thing because that’s what I do and that’s what I love to do and it’s what I’m gonna do until I’m where I want to be, but even now it’s tough. You go onto a show like The Voice and you get cut where you did and you get back home and people had all these expectations, family as well. It was tough. Having to pick it up from there, it was tough. I had to search deep and find myself and that’s where Numb came from.
What can fans expect from your upcoming album, Numb?
Numb is real, it’s something that I had to step out of where I was and I had to find myself and I had to do my own soul searching. It was the first time I was dealing with another writer that was writing something for me and that was big because I’m real picky when it comes to my music and I like things a certain style. I really opened up for this project. I had a writer for my first single, Written in Stone, who was Karen Rodriguez. It’s me thinking, it’s me searching and I’m still finding my voice.
You have an amazing voice! Where do you get your main inspiration from?
That’s a good question! I never grew up with any vocal coaching, but I did grow up with my heros like Usher. When Ne-Yo first broke out as an artist, that’s when it struck me. Ne-Yo was one of my biggest inspirations and not just as an artist, but as a songwriter and having to work behind the scenes and see everybody else get the fame and high accolades. Then he comes out and BOOM, he’s the man! I really kept that in mind and stayed focus. I really follow up on the artists that I have a lot of respect for and it keeps me in line with my music. Nowadays, a lot of things are going Pop and it’s rare that you hear R&B on the radio. What I don’t want to do is reject what I have now and where my voice is best at and go do the Pop; I want to stick with what I love and what I do best and that’s R&B.
Did you get a chance to work with Ne-Yo?
I didn’t and it kinda sucks because I ended up going with team Christina and Ne-Yo was a mentor on Cee-Lo’s team. But, everything happens for a reason and hopefully things come up after this project is released.
You chose team Christina, was that something that you did on your own and if so, what was the ultimate deciding factor?
I did choose her on my own, but I didn’t have intentions of choosing her…I don’t even think they give you more than a minute to decide. I went into the competition saying I wanted to go with team Cee-Lo. He’s another artist that I have a lot of respect for. I felt like Christina wanted to fight for me more and when she was looking at me and talking to me I just really felt like she wanted to connect with me as a artist and elevate what I had to the next level.
Were you happy with your decision at the end of it?
That’s a tough question to ask. I can say yes and I’m really thankful for everything she’s done for me, but at the same time did I make the right decision? That’s a question I ask myself all of the time. Everything does happen for a reason and maybe it just wasn’t meant to be quite yet and maybe there’s something bigger for me out there.
What advice can you offer up-and-coming artists who are hustling just like you in this industry?
The best thing that I can say is, if you have a dream, never throw it away just because someone tells you that you can’t do it or someone tries to bring your down. You can do anything that you put your mind to, you just have to go out there and do it and take chances. You have to leave it all on the line and try your best every single time. Your work ethic is one of the most important things. This music business, it sucks to say, but it’s grimy. You have to hustle to get into where you need to…when you’re hustling, you have to have a work ethic and you have to put in work.
How can fans support you?
You can go anywhere from iTunes to Amazon or my website, IknowJonathas.com.
Any last words for your fans?
I hope everyone is on board; I’ve been working really hard on this project. I’m here for them and I hope they’re here for me!
Thank you for visiting the Dreamworld and I hope that Jonathas’ story has inspired everyone to keep pushing! Check out this video of Jonathas singing Usher’s U Got it Bad onNBC’s The Voice and be sure to buy his new album, Numb!