‘The Voice’ contestant Ryan Berg is a ‘proud East Dallas boy’
Local singer-songwriter Ryan Berg is making waves on The Voice’s 19th season. Berg, who starred in commercials for the reality show, wowed the virtual audience with his portrayal of John Mayer’s “Waiting for the World to Change” during his blind audition. Coach Gwen Stefani was so impressed that she used a “block” to prevent John Legend from recruiting Berg.
After his audition, Berg said he was “a proud East Dallas boy,” and Cavender took note when Blake Shelton said his style was “straight out of that of a Dallas Cavender.” With Berg on Team Gwen, the combat rounds began this week, in which the participants compete against those of other teams. The voice will air Mondays and Tuesdays at 7 p.m. on KXAS-TV (NBC5). Our questions and answers with Berg have been edited for the sake of clarity and brevity.
What made you decide to pursue a career in music?
I grew up in East Dallas and listened to my mother in church. She was in the choir while I was singing in the bank with my dad, so I had this surround sound setting. They are both amazing singers. I later went to Texas State [University in San Marcos] and studied opera, and that made me write music because I wasn’t very passionate about opera. From there I built this band called Velvet Ears here in Dallas.
Ryan Berg appears in an October episode of “The Voice”.(NBC / Tyler Golden / NBC)
How familiar were you with The Voice?
I’ve seen it. Growing up we went to all the shows and I remember Kelly Clarkson going to be a part of them. I saw “the other show” when it won. Do you hear what i’m saying
(Laughs) I hear what you are saying.
I was inspired by the reality TV show aspect just because the stories are deep and that’s such a big part of the music. Often when gigging you can only explain, song by song, what you really feel. You can go further in these shows and really explain your perspective.
You talked about your mom coming out on the show.
My main point is that things happen. What happens behind closed doors is not dictated by love for family. It took me years to figure that out. It’s a process. But my mother is the same mother who raised me. Fortunately, I have a father who was very patient, loving, and accepting. It took a long time before he realized that. But at the end of the day, I’m blessed to have three mothers. The more mothers, the better.
When you found out you were going to LA, you must have been in quarantine. You probably weren’t sure when and the show was delayed by at least a couple of months, right? You must have had mixed feelings.
Absolutely. It was a scary and frustrating time, especially financially. My main source of income is making music. It was a bittersweet feeling, but I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity at a better time. It was a blessing. Without this experience I would have been lost.
After arriving in LA, did you quarantine a lot of time in a hotel?
There was a lot of isolation. It was confusing and there is also a waiting process because we’re not allowed to talk about what’s going on. It was difficult, but I knew that I was healthy and safe and that I was doing something to improve my career.
Ryan Berg performed at a farmers market in Dallas’ West Village back in 2015.(Rex C. Curry / Special Contributor)
You sang this song by John Mayer, and Gwen Stefani blocked John Legend from adding you to their team. Tell me how it was from your point of view. Was it terrifying? Do you remember that?
For me it was a blackout moment. I had drilled the song so many times that it was almost a muscle memory. I looked at the virtual audience and it probably took 20 seconds after I sang my song to actually realize what had happened. I tried not to focus on what was in front of me. I tried to focus on the essence of the song and “Waiting On the World to Change” is such a relevant song right now. But it’s hard to explain and adrenaline rushed through my veins.
Have you had any contact with Cavender’s?
You have reached me, yes. I didn’t know what was happening at the moment, but when I saw it on TV I said, “Wow.” I didn’t know how close Cavender’s was to home.
Do you even worry about being pigeonholed as the guy who was on The Voice?
Not at all. I’ve been a hustler since pursuing my musical dreams, and I really believe that I can create my own dynasty in music. I just see it as an opportunity to be in front of the crowd that I’ve always dreamed of being in front of the crowd.