Port Arthur singer, 22, finding his ‘Voice’
Performing on live television is just one of the benefits of being a successful contestant on “The Voice.”
Big-name artists are there to support you, advise you and cheer you on, said DeAndre Nico, a Port Arthur crooner now making his way through the program’s weeding-out process while sharing his story of surviving Tropical Storm Harvey with an NBC audience of millions.
He’s been helped along by celebrity coach Adam Levine and a team of advisers that includes CeeLo Green and Mariah Carey. That’s heady stuff for a 22-year-old who not long ago was playing any gigs he could get to help his family cope with the storm’s aftermath.
“CeeLo Green is one of the coolest guys I’ve ever met,” Nico told The Enterprise on Friday. “He’s just down to earth — he’s real.”
Nico said Green’s advice helped him and competitor Funsho perform a showstopping performance of “Can You Stand the Rain,” that Levine called “one of the best battle rounds of this season.”
“She’s a beautiful person, genuinely a beautiful woman in and out,” Nico said. “She’s a sweet woman, incredible. I couldn’t believe it was really her. … If they can get Mariah Carey as our adviser? To work with us? That lady is incredible.”
Nico said the show has forced him to grow as a performer.
“All of the extras, like the blind auditions, the knockouts, the battles — you really work your butt off,” he said. “I’m enjoying myself and it’s been a great experience, and I’m so grateful for this opportunity.”
His mother, Johnna Nico, 50, seems just as excited.
“It’s amazing — just unbelievable and humbling that God is exalting him like this,” Johnna Nico said. “He never did the normal things like other kids. He was always applying himself to his craft, his music, and that sacrifice has definitely paid off.”
Nico’s mother said being apart from her son, whom she homeschooled until he attended high school at Memorial and Evolution Academy, was difficult at first. But knowing he’s achieving his dreams makes it easier.
“We’ve spent almost every day for the last 22 years together, but I want him to be there. Now we have to vote for him and keep him there,” she said.
Nico also has used his time on the show to talk about his personal struggles after Harvey.
“We were in the house for two days with no food, no electricity, no water,” he said in an on-air interview. “I thought we were really gonna die in the house.”
After losing everything in the storm, performing gigs, mostly as a drummer or keyboardist, helped his parents pay bills and rebuild.
“People send me emails, (direct messages) and they tell me, ‘Hey man, your story is really encouraging,’” Nico said. “I know people go through things all the time — they go through more than I’ve gone through and they’re still pushing toward doing what they need to do to become successful in life.”
Nico said he wants people to know that losing things doesn’t mean losing everything.
“You still have a future. Your family and everything that’s really important is always going to stick with you,” he said.
That lesson really became clear to Nico when the singer Jennifer Hudson threw books at him, an indication of her excitement and approval: “And it’s like, I went through this for a reason.”
Nico said he’s still nervous getting on the stage, but he has found that the nerves “keep you grounded.”
But being in California does have drawbacks. Nico said he misses his family and his girlfriend. He plans to return to the area and stay after the show.
“It’s hard. I talked to my mom, but I miss my family every day,” he said. “But I’ll be home after all of this.”
Nico said he feels blessed by all of the support he’s received from his fellow Texans during his time on the show.
“Tell my people in Texas that I love them.”