The Voice Alumnus Curtis Grimes on Balancing Commercial and Personal Music

Categories: Interviews

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In the late spring of 2011, Gilmer, Texas-raised Curtis Grimes competed in the first season of the NBC's ratings-bonanza The Voice. While the show has remained a phenomenon, Grimes made his mark on that trail-blazing season by showing off his smooth, confident baritone vocals. He also showed his competitive-edge by sending the contestant he was picked to "battle" against, Emily Valentine, packing after they covered Lady Antebellum's pop-rock booty-call "I Need You Now." But before the two were separated, Grimes and Valentine shocked the judges by laying a massive smooch onto one another.

Whether the kiss was planned or not, it seemed sincere, and was at the very least a nice bit of showmanship from the East Texan who loves baseball as much as the traditional country music he grew up on. The slick mainstream hit he succeeded with on The Voice isn't really his style of music, but he made it seem as though it was. With Our Side of the Fence, Grimes new album, out next week, it's again clear he's an artist who knows how to be comfortable in skin that might not look like his own on the surface.

Grimes and two of his AMP Entertainment (the high-powered management team led by Tim DuBois) buddies, Matt Caldwell and Cody Johnson, each have cow-poke flavored tunes on their records. In fact, "The Cowboy Kind," the lead single from Grimes' new album has already cracked the Top 10 of the Texas Music Chart. Though Grimes hasn't ever busted broncos or hung-on for eight seconds when riding a bull, he feels the song rings true to who he is, just not in a literal manner.

"It's true I've never done the rodeo thing," says Grimes. "But, growing up, my first two jobs were on a ranch, working as a real ranch-hand. I wore the cowboy hat, tucked my jeans into my boots, mended barbed-wire fences and bailed hay every day, so I'm not the rodeo kind of cowboy that Cody Johnson is, but if someone needs me to work some horses for them right now, I could definitely hold my own."

Grimes goes on to explain the actions or responsibility of a rodeo cowboy isn't what the song's really about, anyway.

"The whole touring thing feels a lot like what a traveling rodeo cowboy goes through," he explains. "You're away from home so much, and make a ton of sacrifices for your dream, so that part is similar and really hard."

It's not only the subject matter of a song that Grimes admits to sometimes having difficulty balancing, but the overall sounds of his tunes present dilemmas in-terms of choosing personal taste over commercial needs. Given that as a pre-teen, Grimes first CD purchase was Garth Brooks' Pieces -- a fine example of a neon cowboy covering many sonic bases very well. So it's not that surprising Grimes knows how to please a party crowd without vanquishing his tear-stained leanings.

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