If you want to get Britton Buchanan going, just ask him about Bruce Springsteen and then sit back. The 18-year-old's love and enthusiasm for The Boss pours out.
"I saw Springsteen in Virginia Beach in 2016, and I was in the pit," he said during a recent phone interview. "During 'Spirit in the Night' he walked right by me and I got to touch his arm and I freaked out like a little girl, right? Later in the show during 'Tenth Avenue Freeze Out,' no joke, I swear to you, the man came out and saw me dancing and came right up to me and held my hand.”
It was a moment. And there will be more of those to come.
Buchanan, a senior at Lee County High School, may get a chance to perform one of his hero's songs on NBC's "The Voice," this season. Buchanan wowed judges in the show's Season 14 premiere with his rendition of Ray LaMontagne's "Trouble" and then picked Alicia Keys as his coach.
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This week, he'll go up against one of his teammates in the Battle Rounds.
At home in Sanford
Buchanan started playing guitar when he was 8 and singing publicly around age 12. Until his big TV break, Buchanan said he mostly sang in the Sanford and Triangle areas, even singing the national anthem at the Durham Bulls game. Twice.
The young Matt Damon-lookalike also been active in the drama club at Lee County High, playing Danny Zuko in “Grease” last spring.
Buchanan is comfortable singing nearly every genre of music — a quality that could take far on the NBC singing competition.
But apart from a couple of great aunts, Buchanan said singing isn't a big part of his family history. His family members, who were present for his televised audition for "The Voice," are very supportive.
His parents, Shannon and Todd, live in Sanford with Buchanan's little brother, Dawson, a sixth-grader at Lee Christian School. His mother is an office manager for a cardiologist and his father, well. "With all honesty, I have no idea what my dad does. He works at Duke Energy but I don't know what he does. Mom, do you know what he does? My mom doesn't know what he does. For all we know, he works for the CIA," Buchanan joked.
NC pals on the show
Buchanan isn't the only North Carolina person on the show this season, joined by Molly Stevens of Raleigh and Rayshun LaMarr, who grew up in Chapel Hill. Not surprisingly, Buchanan has already made friends with them.
"Rayshun is wonderful," Buchanan said. "Every time we’d be in the car together we’d say, 'North Carolina represent!' so we bonded over that."
He also spoke about his fondness for Stevens. "Molly is my girl," he said. "I love Molly to death. Molly is such an inspiration. I saw Molly’s story on TV, and she is one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met, and I love her to death. She’s pretty awesome."
The infamous 'block'
Buchanan's appearance on "The Voice" made history in an unusual way. He was the first singer for which a "block" was used — a new element of the show that allows coaches to block other coaches from getting a singer. Each coach has one block per season, and Blake Shelton used his to keep coach Adam Levine from getting Buchanan.
That's kind of a shame, since Buchanan told Levine on the show that he loved Levine's version of “I Love L.A.” with Randy Newman. “I watched that video like 80 times every week and it’s freakin’ awesome,” he told him.
Buchanan said in our interview that he thinks he might have picked Adam if he had not been blocked by Blake, but knowing what he knows now, Alicia was the best pick for him.
“If I could be in that position having the knowledge I have now, I still would have chosen Alicia," he said. "I wouldn’t have changed for the world. I’m completely happy.”
5 questions with Britton Buchanan
Q: Is there an artist whose music you’d like to sing on the show?
I want to sing Bruce’s music really bad, but then there’s the thing of like, Bruce Springsteen may hear me sing his music. So do I really want to do that? What if Bruce Springsteen hates it? So I’d like to sing Bruce Springsteen, but I have a couple of people. Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne is a big one, Tom Petty, Paul Simon, Billy Joel, John Prine. And obviously Bob Dylan has also been a big inspiration. I’d love to sing some of his songs.
Q: You’re on Team Alicia. What’s your favorite Alicia Keys song?
Q: Apart from performing and getting picked, what’s your strongest memory from audition day?
The friends that I made there. I woke up in the morning and wrote them all a little note and slid it under their doors. And I remember getting the texts after I got done with the audition, when I got my phone back, and seeing their reactions. So it was a solidification of friendships, and I still talk to all of them today. I remember waking up at 5 o'clock in the morning and walking around the hotel in gym shorts and a Bruce Springsteen t-shirt trying to slide notes under peoples’ doors, hoping I was sliding them under the right doors.
Q: How do you describe your personality?
I like to have a lot of fun. I think that interview (in the season premiere) of me walking through the park and kicking or whatever, that was a pretty good example of how I am in day-to-day life.
Q: Have your fans given you your own hashtag yet?
I’m about as technologically savvy as an 80 year old. I know how to tweet, because I’m just typing, right? And I know how to post. I do read and respond to everything that is sent to me though — like messages on Facebook and Instagram, and I’ve liked all these comments on Twitter. The support has just been overwhelming and I hope I’m doing an adequate job of getting back to those people who give those compliments to me.
Watch 'The Voice'
“The Voice” airs at 8 p.m. Monday and Tuesday on NBC.