By: Kathleen Woods
Stepping out in front of a crowd and knowing that you will be singing for Christina Aguilera, Blake Shelton, CeeLo Green and Adam Levine on The Voice is no easy feat.
Nelson Emokpae made it seem effortless as he sang “Ain’t No Sunshine” in 2012 and won over Coach Chirstina Aguilera.
Emokpae’s band is called Nelly’s Echo and his voice certainly echoed through the Spratt 101 theatre on Thursday night. His voice melted through each key change, singing popular songs from “Old Time Toad” to “Rolling in the Deep.” He began with a few of his hits such as “Goodbye,” which gave the audience chills, a song written like a letter saying goodbye to all of his exes.
I sat down with Emokpae as he ate a bowl of fruit and prepared for his performance at Missouri Western.
Q: Why did you decide to become a singer?
A: “I’m actually a physical therapist by trade. But on the weekends, I would go out and play music because it was my was my passion was my hobby. After a while, I had this thought that I did not want to be that old man wishing to travel the world and really, really use my passion as my passport to see the world. So I decided one day in 2010, to quit my full time job as a physical therapist, to hit the road as a full time musician.”
Q: Who is another artist that you would say inspires you?
A: “So, when I was in my last year of PT school, when I was getting my chops as a musician, I kind of modeled my style of the early Jason Mraz style cause he’s a storyteller. He banters with the crowd, he’s fun, he’s very positive, very energetic. So I kind of tailored my style towards that. I didn’t really copy it, I just kind of used his style as inspiration for what I do.”
Q: So I did a little research on you. I’m not gonna lie. I looked at your YouTube page and your website, as well. I found that you were on The Voice. So, I was wondering what your most memorable experience on The Voice?
A: “There were so many good experiences, the one that comes to mind was – oh this is going to haunt me one day – was making Christina blush because I’m silly.”
Q: On your website it says that you have shared the stage with artists like, Travis McCoy, Trombone Shorty, Sean Kingston and Boys to Men. Which would you say out of all those bands had the most impact on you?
A: “Trombone Shorty, because he is that amazing. They communicate their intention very clearly with the audience’s. They just take you on this ride and it’s very positive. Go to Trombone Shorty show. It’s raw. It’s dirty. When I say ‘dirty,’ it’s very intimate. It’s very visceral. You leave not the same way you walked in. It’s just a really, really good live show. Anyone can fake it online but you can’t fake a conversation one on one.”
Q: This question is kind of silly, but I’m going to ask it anyway. You created a video about the Popeyes, Chick-fil-a spicy chicken debate. Why did you decide to create that video?
A: “So when I first came to this country in 1986, my first ever job was working at Popeyes. And now the Popeyes’ brand came up with this new spicy chicken sandwich. Yeah, that was like a big hit all over the country and one day, I was just playing around some beats. I was like, ‘You know what? It could be cool to just make a song’. I made the song and funnily enough, the song and the video came at a time when I needed a video and a song because I made a goal to my fans. I promised my fans that every month every first Tuesday of every month, I release a brand new song on video. So that was my brand new song and video for the month of September.”
Emokpae enjoy’s playing at colleges all over the world because of the positive impact he can make on college students. He wants to leave his audiences feeling inspired. To feel like they had a meaningful conversation between strangers and leave as friends.