Jesse Campbell: My 'A' Game Is on 'The Voice'
The show's breakout star dishes about hardship, triumph and who he'd like to battle in the final round.
"I found myself in a rock-bottom experience," Campbell said. "I had some issues that kept me from being who I am -- I had to work through a lot of self-esteem and unworthiness."
Despite some of his lowest moments -- sleeping in his car with Soraya, his 11-year-old daughter, and not being able to afford simple fever medication for her when she fell sick – Campbell said that he looks back on those experiences without bitterness. He said that he operates from love, a place that gives him a quiet confidence that seems to reveal itself most when he sings.
"I'm not mad about my past because it's those moments that have brought me to the present, which I also believe will bring about the experiences of the future," he said.
He hopes that future includes being crowned the Season 2 winner of The Voice, but he doesn't expect to take the victory without a fight. If it comes down to him and another contestant, he wants to go head-to-head with the best, and for him that's Lindsey Pavao. Pavao, who performed a punk-rock remix of Trey Songz's "Say Aah" in her blind audition, arranges her own music, which Campbell feels sets her apart from the rest.
"I would really want to perform in the finals with someone who is going to bring their 'A' game. To me, Lindsey has the creativity unmatched by anyone that I am aware of on the show. She takes songs and flips them and converts them with her flavor and her style. And she's selling probably more [iTunes] units than anybody. And I think she is a beautiful, creative and interesting person."
Whether or not we see a Pavao-Campbell showdown remains to be seen, but if Campbell -- who says he wants to be the male version of Aguilera -- sticks around until then, we'll get to see him cover songs from his musical icons, who include Michael Jackson, Sarah Vaughan and Vandross.
Signing a deal with Universal Republic would be nice, but Campbell said it's the small possibilities that get him most excited, like being able to purchase a puppy for his daughter, for whom he says he's doing all of this.
As for his ultimate goal? It's quite a mouthful. "My desire is to be an international recording artist who sings heart-centered universal music with soul," Campbell said with a slight chuckle. "I think I need to patent that."
Akoto Ofori-Atta is The Root's assistant editor. Follow her on Twitter.