Q+A: Cody Belew of The Voice, Season 3
On Season 3 of The Voice, Cody Belew landed a spot on Team Cee Lo with his performance of Otis Redding’s “Hard to Handle.” It was the start of living out the dreams he had as a kid in Beebe, Arkansas. Audiences grew to love him as he tested the limits, taking on unlikely songs, like Beyoncé’s “Crazy in Love.”
You grew up in an Arkansas town so small, there wasn’t much to do but sing. Would you have been a singer if you had grown up in London, LA or a fast paced city?
LORD! Can you imagine how I would’ve turned out had I more to focus my attention on than a pond bank and a chicken coop??!? HAH! I’m sure I would have been a singer! I probably would have taken a very different route in getting here, however. I sang, growing up, because I couldn’t help but sing. I made the farm and countryside all around me my stadium full of people. If anything, I think my location was battling against me, because I didn’t have many opportunities to explore music, it was just something I dreamed about as a kid. Had my environment played any role in my career choice, I should’ve been a professional squirrel hunter.
In the South and Midwest, faith is a strong foundation for the rest of our lives, whether we choose to continue believing in our own religions or not. How did faith make you the man you are today? Why do you believe fate was put in your path to be on “The Voice?”
Great question! Yes, I was raised steeped in the baptist way of worship, but I always felt my soul had lived a few lifetimes before this one. Faith defines the man I am today. I learned faith in myself about the time I realized that faith in God, or the universal center of Us, was completely up to me. That strong sense of self motivation- believing in me when it felt like no one else did- that’s where I find God. My spirit is your spirit is God. Fate has a funny way of pushing us around, doesn’t it? I’m such a control freak, I think that it sometimes takes a monumental shift in my life for me to remember what’s really guiding me along. The Voice was one of those monumental shifts that took me out of the drivers seat. I was just along for the ride!
Was Cee Lo intimidating? You really have had many years of experience. So did you ever feel you knew as much as he did? How is he surprisingly a nice guy in ways viewers didn’t get to see?
I was never intimidated by Cee Lo, but that’s more a testament to him. He doesn’t really allow for that. He always treated me like a fellow artist- a collaborator and that is something that will always be very special to me. Time after time on the show, he picked me. I owe a lot to that man.
Your friend Buddy had a huge role in making you part of his band before he died at a young age. What would he think of you being on “The Voice?” Would he have scolded you on any small technique things? What would he have supported you on?
Oh, Buddy is with me every day. I think in a lot of ways he’s like my Obi Wan Kanobi- he’s like my inner force. He was never a teacher to me in the ways of technique or form. He was truly my friend. He let me make my own mistakes and learn my own way, and in that became my greatest teacher.
It’s strange how you spent so much time and effort trying to make it in Nashville when you could have auditioned for “The Voice” in any city. Life is weird like that. Why do you think some people make it in Nashville and some don’t?
I think Nashville is just like anything else in this business- fate, and hard work are the key. I had not really put myself out there in Nashville as I had only lived there for one year when The Voice called. Looking back, I think The Voice was always meant to be my road, and Nashville was always meant to be my home. I like that I get to be in love with the city instead of growing bitter over the struggle to be seen and heard. It’s a hard world out there!!
What do you believe is THE big kicker that finally allows people their success after years of money spent, tears and frustration?
I think if you’re going to make it, you’re going to make it. It has to ooze from your pores. It must radiate around you. I never ever ever stopped believing. Belief is more powerful than any amount of money or position. You can move mountains if you just believe.
During and after college, you worked as a tailor. Do you ever sew outfits for yourself or friends nowadays? If you had a huge tour every year like The Rolling Stones, would you be heavily involved in the costume design?
I CAN’T WAIT TO DESIGN THE COSTUMES FOR MY FIRST TOUR!! Yes, I have designed and constructed outfits before, but that was mostly for theatre work. I’m unstoppable at Halloween, though.
Are you afraid of what’s next in a good way, that adrenaline rush type? And what is next for you?
The unknown is a strange beast, sometimes I feel as if I’m being hunted, and other times I’m the hunter trying to gun it down. I have my bad days when it seems to pin me down, but most often I’m electrified by inspiration for the task at hand. My debut album is next! I’m working on it now! I just released “Baby, Get Out” with Meghan Linsey to tide the fans over. Then, on April 1st, my work with Heifer International officially begins with the release of my new song “Say Love,” accompanied by the music video that we JUST wrapped shooting in Ecuador. All the proceeds from the digital sales of the single go to benefit Heifer’s work all over the world in ending hunger and poverty. The Say Love campaign kicks off on April 1st, and from there it’s my mission to shine a light on the work of this wonderful organization. (No one else has that scoop yet!)