Back in early 2007, my band, The Honour Recital, called it quits. We had been together for five years and had gone from an unknown group of kids playing music in our parents’ basement to a band playing Warped Tour and negotiating a record deal. When we disbanded, I had no idea what I would do next; I just knew I wanted to play music.
Through a mutual friend in Los Angeles, I was referred to a band from Florida, called Automatic Loveletter. They were (and still are) an incredibly talented rock band with a singer whose voice is like a combination of the best of Janis Joplin and Steven Tyler—and, in my humble opinion, she tops them both. We were put in contact with each other and talked for a few months before finally agreeing that I should join the band. So the day after I asked my fiancée to marry me, I hopped on a plane and headed for Clearwater.
When I got there, the band was just as good as the recordings and Juliet’s voice was better. We all became quick friends and it seemed like the perfect fit.
I knew leading up to leaving Indiana that the band was in the middle of a record contract with Epic Records and that a record release would be coming soon, with lots of touring happening around it, in support of the release. In fact, that was the best that everyone in the band knew at the time. Unfortunately, soon after I arrived, the label informed us that the record was being pushed back to a later, unknown date. The schedule of back-to-back touring dates would be put on hold as well, as they weren’t ready to throw the massive weight of a Sony-backed label into a band who didn’t have a record in stores. Interesting catch-22, huh? So we played whatever spot-dates we could book on our own and worked to connect with fans on social networks, doing what we could to continue building the band’s fan-base and notoriety on our own.
Meanwhile, I was really starting to miss my fiancée and was growing more and more homesick every day. Add to that the fact that I didn’t bring a car to Florida, as we all believed we’d be on the road constantly and I wouldn’t need it. Not having a car makes it difficult to get a job, which makes it difficult to care for oneself. So, with very little band activity, no job, no car, and a growing longing to come home to my girl, I made the difficult decision to leave the band and come home.
I knew when I left that I’d probably be hearing Automatic Loveletter on the radio within the next year; as soon as the record came out they’d be massively famous. Seriously, Juliet has such a great voice and the songs were so good and so catchy, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be heard by millions everywhere.
As it turns out, I was wrong about the timing. I was wrong about the band. But I was dead right about Juliet.
Throughout this year’s Super Bowl (the most-watched television event every year in America), NBC promoted its show, The Voice during seemingly every commercial break. The show looked interesting to me last year because of the stars of the show, but I never watched it and didn’t intend to this year–I just don’t have time to add more TV watching to my busy schedule. But it turned out that immediately after the Super Bowl, the auditions for the new season of The Voice started and Kim and I were sucked right in. (Good marketing, NBC!) We were half-watching, half-talking and checking Twitter on our phones when Kim said, “Is that Juliet?” as the show went to a commercial break. I barely missed it, so I didn’t know. When the commercials were done they showed some of the people who were getting ready to audition for the coaches. There she was! Juliet Simms, the girl whose band I had played with over four years ago, backstage with her brother, Tommy. I was blown away!
I knew she was great and that the world would eventually know her talent; but no one could have known the events of record label troubles and the music industry’s struggles as a whole would lead to her auditioning for a talent competition on one of the largest television networks in America. Nor could they have known how Adam Levine and Christina Aguillera would practically fight over the chance to be her coach!
Though I haven’t been able to watch every episode and spend three hours a week following all the performances and voting results, I have made sure to catch videos of Juliet’s performances on YouTube the day after.
A couple of my favorites:
After months of this show going on every week and the Voice’s coaches and viewers voting to eliminate singers, it’s down to the final four contestants. Juliet made it! To say I’m proud of her and excited for her would be an understatement. She’s one of the most talented, driven, passionate, hardest working people I know—not just in the music world either. Juliet is an example of knowing what God made a person for, knowing her strengths and talents, and working hard to make her dreams come true. The world could use more people like her.
Check out her incredible final performance on the show:
PS—As an added bonus for reading through this entire post, here’s a live performance from my time with Juliet, Sean, Daniel, and Automatic Loveletter: