Tyler Robinson provided some soulful singing—and some unintended controversy—to the hit NBC reality-competition show The Voice. An out gay Mormon, Robinson was eliminated during one of the show's "battle rounds" when mentor Blake Shelton picked Patrick Thomas over Robinson—a decision some feel was steeped in homophobia (especially given other recent anti-gay incidents allegedly involving the country superstar), as some critics felt Robinson clearly outclassed Thomas.
As the show winds down, Robinson talked with Windy City Times about the show, Shelton and his surprise dream duet partners.
WCT: (Windy City Times) First, I'd like to talk with you about the fact that you're a gay Mormon. How difficult is it to come out in that particular religion?
TR: (Tyler Robinson) It's different in every situation. I was lucky enough to have a mom who loves me even if I was a serial killer. She is one who loves unconditionally. When I came out to her, it was sort of an accident. We were sitting and talking as a family, and one thing led to another. My mom actually asked, "You like boys, don't you?" I said, "Well, yeah." That's when the hysterics began. [Laughs]
For about a year, we didn't have the same relationship we had before. For her, it was a big game-changer. Truthfully, being on the show and coming out on the show was probably the best decision I ever made because my relationship with my mom has never been so strong. Now, she's trying to set me up with guys now—which I think is hilarious. She's like, "My friend at school has a son who's gay, and he's really cute..." [Both laugh.] I'm like, "Mom, I'm in L.A."
WCT: Now, how has the church reacted?
TR: I have only gotten love from everyone I went to church with when I was younger. I don't know if the church has a statement. I was written up in a Salt Lake City paper, and the article was fine; it wasn't rude at all. I think [anti-gay] comments come from people who just don't get it—but, yes, I've gotten nothing but love. I was truly surprised. I didn't go to church the past two years but I think a lot of them knew I was gay.
There isn't enough open dialogue [in the church], but I'm lucky to have an open-minded family. My stepfather wasn't raised Mormon and is from Boston, so when it comes to stuff like gay marriage he's very liberal. When it came to me, he didn't have a bad word to say—[although] I didn't know how he was going to react. When he told me he was OK with it, it was huge. They love the church but they also love me—and that's the most important part.
WCT: Let's move on to The Voice. How did you become part of that show? Was there a massive audition process?
TR: It was pretty long, but I had a friend who found out about the show. She actually auditioned in Chicago; unfortunately, she didn't make it and she went back home to Sacramento. She called me and was like, "Hey, I tried out for this show called The Voice. The idea is really cool and I think you'd be a good fit for it." She told about a week before the auditions in Los Angeles; I didn't know how I was going to get there—I didn't have a job. The day before the auditions I decided to go, and I drove all night.
They saw me and heard me sing; then they said, "We'd love for you to come back tomorrow." So I had to learn two more songs and sing the next day. After that callback, I was interviewed on camera by a casting director. A few weeks later, I got a call and they asked me to be a part of the show.
WCT: There are so many people who feel that the wrong person was picked in your battle round. How do you feel about how things went?
TR: When it comes down to it, that's what I love about the show: It's really down to the coach you have. I don't think Blake made the wrong decision—I think he made the decision he was more comfortable with.
WCT: That's an interesting perspective, because the other mentors [Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera and Cee-Lo Green] went with you.
TR: Well, I didn't have any other choice [regarding my team]—Blake was the only one who swung his chair around for me. But I think there are bigger things coming for me; I've been talking with people. Maybe it'll be a single; maybe it'll be a guest spot on Glee.
WCT: There are also a lot of people who feel that Blake was being homophobic [in eliminating you]. I've seen some very [strong] comments on the Internet.
TR: I can definitely attest that he is not a homophobe. He is truly one of the nicest, down-to-earth celebrities I've ever met. He doesn't even care about being a celebrity. He's so honest and he's a really good guy to be around. He's anything but a homophobe; he hugged me all the time. To call him a homophobe is really not fair to him; what he tweeted about [the allegedly anti-gay tweet that was a play on lyrics from a Shania Twain song] could have been misconstrued. He's like a big, friendly giant.
WCT: Looking at the rest of the contestants, who are you rooting for?
TR: I became such good friends with so many of the contestants. It's so hard to choose—you have Vicci Martinez, Nakia, Frenchie [Davis]. I think Vicci Martinez might be one of my major favorites; I just love her performance quality and her artistry. I love what Cee-Lo said about one of her performances: "It's like a war dance."
WCT: What type of music will be on your album?
TR: It's definitely going to be pop-soul—sort of like a male Adele, but a little poppier. It'll be in between Bruno Mars and Adele.
WCT: I do love Adele.
TR: Everyone loves Adele. I've never met anyone who doesn't like Adele.
WCT: I haven't either, come to think of it. However, I have to say I'm not the biggest Lady Gaga fan—at least with this latest CD.
TR: I am, although I don't like the second CD. I just love her—she's just the whole package. I rewatched her Monster Ball tour on HBO the other night. Her abilities to get at her audience are unreal. She's brilliant—I love her ideas and storylines.
WCT: Who would you love to duet with?
TR: Actually, I'd love to duet with a rap artist—like a collaboration with Nicki Minaj. I think it'd be really fun to do a song with her. I know it'd be cool to have this white, all-American boy on a rap album; I think it'd be groundbreaking and different. I listen to all rap music; I love the musicianship. I'd love to work with Kanye and Nicki, but I know it'll take time.
WCT: Sort of like Adam Levine being on Kanye West's "Heard ‘Em Say."
TR: Yes. I love that song a lot.
One of things I like about Kanye West is his ability to produce and work with so many different types of artists. I think that's why I think he'd be willing to work with this white kid.