photo: NBCTeam Xtina's Chris Mann may have placed fourth on Season 2 of "The Voice"--which may or may not have had something to do with his controversial coach's TV feud with Team Adam's third-place contestant, Tony Lucca--but now it seems like nice guys don't always finish last in the long run. Sometimes they end up with label deals anyway, and they get to record with an industry legend like uberproducer Ron Fair. That's exactly the case with Chris, who is currently at work with Fair and a slew of other impressive heavyweights on his debut album, due out in October.
Chris had already enjoyed an impressive pre-"Voice" career--collaborating and performing with artists like Babyface, India.Arie, Idina Menzel, Katharine McPhee, and David Foster; writing music for various movies and television shows; and even appearing as a Warbler on "Glee." But he still wasn't a household name, for some reason, until "The Voice" came along. (Not even auditioning for "American Idol"--which he did while he was still in college--offered him that elusive big break.) However, as a new signing to Ron Fair's Faircraft/Universal Republic label, the popera singer--who amusingly cites both Luciano Pavarotti and Robbie Williams as influences--now seems truly ready for prime time.
While Season 1's "Voice" winner, Javier Colon, failed to climb the charts, and it remains to be seen if Season 2 champion Jermaine Paul will fare any better, I do believe that Chris may be one "Voice" alum who can become a million-seller and establish "The Voice" as a legitimate star-maker. After all, just look at the robust record sales for opera-belting reality veterans like "Got Talent's" Susan Boyle and Jackie Evancho, or crossover opera stars like Andrea Bocelli and Il Divo. I can easily imagine Chris following in those artists' wingtipped footsteps, especially with Faircraft's help.
I recently caught up with Chris at Ron Fair's posh home studio in L.A., where he talked about the interesting cover songs that will be featured on his album (including a remake of Frank Sinatra's "My Way" with new lyrics that Paul Anka penned just for him); his musical collaborators (including powerpop maestro Bleu); his long-ago "Idol" audition; his place in the current pop market; the possibillity of working with Christina Aguilera in the future; and why, despite his talent, it took so long for him to finally make it.
And, if you listen closely around the 5:45 mark, you'll hear him spill some catty dirt about Cee Lo Green's beloved "Voice" mascot, Purrfect. However, if you're the type who gets easily crushed by such revelations as the non-existence of Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, you may want to skip that part...