Britton Buchanan is back at home in Sanford this week after finishing in the runner-up spot in Tuesday's season finale of "The Voice."
The 18-year-old said in an interview Friday that he's rested and readjusting to life away from the grind of a twice-weekly nationally televised singing competition show. But he admits it's a little harder now going to Walmart than it was before.
"I can't go to Walmart or the bank, I found that out," he joked. "Each adventure took me a really long time."
He hasn't even had much time yet to reconnect with friends, he said. "I don't even know if a lot of people know I'm back yet," he said. "But if they do it's probably because people are taking pictures of me in Walmart and posting them online."
Britton's wry sense of humor is something viewers of "The Voice" got to see this season, along with his natural musical talents. He is equally adept at singing as he is guitar-playing, and his easy confidence on stage belies his young age. As coach Adam Levine of "The Voice" told Britton this week of his time on the show: "This is going to be but a footnote in your much larger career."
We covered Britton's every move on the show this season, and you can read all those stories here.
Here are some of the highlights of our chat:
He's got the moves like Jagger
We had to talk about the dancing. Britton kind of let loose on his cover of "Good Lovin'' in the performance finale on May 21.
"It was funny because I can't dance, but if you watch that video it looks like I can a little bit," he said. "If I tried to re-create that, it would not work out at all for me."
Some of the moves — the high kicks and the strutting — were reminiscent of Mick Jagger.
"I'm very highly influenced by Mick Jagger," he said. "If it happened like that, then that's a high compliment but it was an accident. I'm very influenced by him so a lot of his moves probably made it in there."
And was the knee slide at the end of the song a nod to his musical hero Bruce Springsteen?
"Probably," he said. "I thought, 'What's more rock 'n' roll than knee slides,' so I just did it."
Britton loves The Boss
Britton mastered a variety of covers on the show, from classics like "Some Kind of Wonderful," "Good Lovin,'" "Gimme Shelter" and "New York State of Mind," to more contemporary covers such as Ed Sheeran's "Perfect" and Avicii's "Wake Me Up." In Monday's performance finale, he even sang a song he wrote himself — he wrote it in 10 minutes at the end of chemistry class at Lee County High School.
Britton is a well-known Springsteen super-fan, and the song, "Where You Come From," was inspired by a Flannery O'Connor book and had a bit of a haunting Springsteen vibe.
"I think he's the greatest," Britton said. "If anyone thinks there's any similarity to me and Bruce Springsteen, I would take that any day. If you think that song was good enough to be a Bruce Springsteen song, that's the biggest compliment you could give me. I think my songwriting is directly influenced by a lot of people — people like Bruce and Jackson Browne and Tom Petty and Bob Dylan and Paul Simon."
One highlight among many for Britton on "The Voice" was the chance to sing a song by The Boss. For the May 14 performance show, Britton sang Springsteen's 9/11 anthem "The Rising."
"I got his permission straight from him," Britton said. "And that was a weird thing to hear — that he was letting me sing his songs. It's very crazy to think about."
To add to the craziness, Britton got a tweet from E-Street Band rocker Steven Van Zandt telling him that he did an excellent job.
"Just was sent Britton Buchanan’s excellent version of The Rising. Tough song to pull off. Very impressive. I salute you!" Van Zandt wrote.
'The Rising' helped him grieve
Even though the night after 'The Rising' performance was the first time all season Britton had any hint of trouble with voters and he ended up having to sing for an "instant save" from Twitter users, he has no regrets about the song choice.
"I think it worked out the way it was supposed to work out," Britton said. "That song is going to be very special to me for a really, really long time now. The song was very special to me for personal reasons the day that I sang it. I got some news that morning that hit me hard and it was very personal to me. It was kind of like a grieving process for me to sing that song that night. It was then I knew that that was the song I was supposed to be singing."
Britton is referring to the sudden death of someone he describes as being "a big loss for the community here in Sanford," but declined to give details out of respect for the person's family.
'The Voice' perks
Britton and his fellow finalists — Brynn Cartelli (the winner), Kyla Jade and Spensha Baker — each received a new Toyota C-HR from the show. But that wasn't the only perk he took away.
On the day he recorded "Where You Come From," coach Alicia Keys gave him an all-original 1969 Fender Telecaster guitar. Britton describes it as "absolutely amazing." It's the one he's playing on "Good Lovin'."
And then there are all the rocker clothes. Did he get to keep his TV wardrobe?
"Heck yeah! The only thing I don't have is the gray leather jacket that I wore for 'Some Kind of Wonderful'," he said. (It was a rental). "I have everything with me, and I love it!"
The clothes were picked out by the creative team that designed the staging and sets for each performance. He said he was never forced to wear anything he didn't like. "It always worked out," he said. Even the times he had to wear bell-bottoms.
"I didn't wear bell-bottoms enough," he said. "I really enjoy those bell-bottoms. I kept trying to find ways to get me in them. They work for me."
First things first: Britton has to finish up some online classes in the next week or two so that he can finish high school. Right now, he said, it looks like he'll get to walk with his graduating class.
Then in June, Britton has four shows on the schedule at the Temple Theatre in Sanford. They first scheduled two shows — June 15 and 16. The tickets went on sale Friday afternoon and sold out in 8 minutes. That's right — 8 minutes. Two more shows were added for June 14 and June 17. (Call the theater at 919-774-4155 for details). Don't be surprised if he's playing larger venues around here soon.
He describes the Sanford concerts as acoustic solo shows. Jackie Verna from "The Voice" this season will open.
Britton is excited to be playing at the Temple and in his hometown.
"It's absolutely gorgeous," he said. "It was built in 1925. It's small and intimate, which is exactly what I want these shows to be. It's an absolutely gorgeous venue — I got my start there — so I'm super excited about coming back and playing it again. It's gonna be a great evening."
After that, Britton said Keys is helping him record his first record.
"She's so special," he said. "We're working together, and she's helping me with a lot of stuff that's coming up. I already have recording dates booked for a record coming up next month."
The record will be all original songs written by him.
"I haven't ever really written anything with other people.," he said. "Not that I don't want to, but I've never really had the opportunity."
Britton realizes that his writing style is a little on the serious side, but that's just what speaks to him.
"I try to realize that the world is not as perfect as pop music makes it out to be so I write about very serious things," he said. "I really dig a lot of the music today and the fact that a lot of it is concentrated in bringing joy to people, but I'm just kind of in the realm of seriousness with a lot of songs."