Country singer-songwriter Savanna Chestnut, who spoke with 360°Sound last year, recently appeared on the hit NBC show The Voice, now in its 20th season. Country superstar Blake Shelton chose Chestnut for his team after her country rendition of the ‘80s pop classic “Hold Me Now” by Thompson Twins. We caught up with the Americus, Kansas native to talk about her experience on The Voice.
360°: Congrats on being picked for Team Blake! Please start by giving us the story of how you got on The Voice.
Savanna Chestnut: For me, a casting director found a video on my Instagram page of me doing the song that I ended up performing for blind auditions, the Thompson Twins song “Hold Me Now,” which I put my own country spin on. They saw it and liked it and asked me to try out. It kind of went from there.
Tell us about the decision to cover “Hold Me Now” and your approach to interpreting it.
I think I was listening to it at some point a couple years ago, and I love ‘80s pop, sometimes I go through phases where I just jam out to ‘80s all week. That song in particular I’ve always loved. I was thinking about the lyrics. In the original song, you almost you don’t really notice the story as much as just the beat because it’s kind of dance-y. It’s such a beautiful song. It’s kind of this desperate heartbreak type song. Obviously, as a country, that’s kind of our specialty. I started to thinking about a way I could slow it down and turn it into a country song. I started working on it and came up with what I ended up performing for The Voice a couple years later.
Do you think anything can be turned country with the right approach?
It doesn’t work for every song. I wish it did. There’s been times before where I’ve thought, ‘This song would be so cool if I could think of a way to do a country version.’ But I do a more traditional style of country. For me, it kind of has to end up with a specific sound to sound country. I suppose how a lot of current country goes, how a lot of it is more pop, you could probably take just about anything and throw some banjo in the background and turn it into a country song [laughs].
How’d you feel about your blind audition?
It was a long day. We do hair and makeup for hours while we wait for our turn to audition. It’s a long day of anticipation. I really thought that I was very calm and in control. I’ve been performing a lot of life at this point. I thought I was good to go, and as soon as I started to sing, I felt kind of shaky and nervous and ended up feeling that way the whole time. I didn’t think [any of the judges] were going to turn for me. It wasn’t looking like it was going to happen for me. I was already mentally preparing to be a good sport about it and take it for what it was. Blake finally turning around was a relief and very exciting, too.
What are some things you’ve learned from Blake Shelton?
I learned I need to work on stage presence in particular as far as being a little more comfortable. I always feel comfortable, but I don’t always have a lot of energy with my movements when I’m performing. People like to see that in a performance; they like to see you dance and move around. I learned that’s one thing I need to start paying attention to more.
What do you hope your time on The Voice will do for your career?
I’ve been a full-time performer for a couple years now. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do. Leading up to this, most of my shows were typically just smaller bars, which I don’t mind doing I do hope that it will eventually lead to some bigger stages, and I think The Voice will definitely help me do that. We’re already lining up quite a few festivals and events for the summer with the band and just getting more people to come out and be interested. Name recognition is a really big thing in this business. Getting massive exposure from The Voice is going to be really, really helpful down the road.
The Voice airs Monday nights on NBC at 8 p.m. EST/7 p.m. CST. You can also view episodes on NBC.com and the NBC App.