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A Musical Journey

Finding his voice

Former Madigan chaplain's assistant Mycle Wastman is a contestant on NBC's reality talent show 'The Voice'

Published: 04:56PM October 17th, 2012
Finding his voice

Scott Hansen/Northwest Guardian

Mycle Wastman, a former Soldier, performs during a recent acoustic set in Theater 47 at Seattle's Magnuson Park.

More than 20 years ago, an Army private appeared on a CNN Christmas broadcast strumming his guitar and singing “Silent Night” in Mina, Saudi Arabia.

The Soldier was Mycle Wastman, and that program turned out to be a glimpse of the future for the young musician.

After an active duty Army career from 1990 to 1994, Wastman served afterward in the Army Reserves as a chaplain’s assistant at Madigan Army Medical Center at Fort Lewis from 1995 to 1996.

“While I was in the service, I’ve always had a love for music,” Wastman said. “It was always my passion, but it never was something I was pursuing as a career.”

Today, the former Soldier and Seattle musician is now introducing his musical talents to millions of viewers as a contestant on the hit NBC television show, “The Voice.”

After his blind audition, for which he performed the Al Green standard, “Let’s Stay Together,” musician coaches Adam Levine, Cee Lo Green and Blake Shelton each turned his chair around to offer the soulful singer a spot on his team — an important step on the program. Wastman selected Cee Lo Green as his vocal coach, and after his Tuesday night, battle-round performance of Alex Clare’s “Too Close,” Green again selected Wastman, advancing him to the knockout round of competition.

The winner of “The Voice” receives a record deal with Universal Music Group.

“It’s been an incredible experience,” Wastman said. “Just the spotlight that is on me right now is pretty intense. Seeing the new people who are appreciating my music and seeing the people who have been in my life for a long time — stepping up and being supportive and wanting me to succeed — I’m really thankful for having the opportunity.”

Wastman’s passion for music was instilled in him as a baby when his grandmother, who sang background vocals for Frank Sinatra, sang to him in a rocking chair. After his time in the service, Wastman worked construction and project management jobs in Seattle. By the time he was 30 he realized music is what he needed to do.

“I definitely was a late bloomer,” Wastman said. “(The other jobs) never filled that space in my heart and I kept on going back to music. There’s no guarantees in life; might as well do what you love to do.”

Wastman entered the Seattle music scene about 10 years ago and has released two albums since.

Friend and fellow Seattle musician, Ryan Shea Smith, first met Wastman about six years ago when they teamed up to form Jive Talkin’, a Bee Gee’s tribute band.

“The first time I heard Mycle sing I was totally blown away,” Smith said. “A lot of people can sing, but he can do things that are really rare vocally.”

To augment his singing, Wastman also plays guitar, bass and drums. He draws on personal experiences with his songwriting, including his six-month deployment during Operation Desert Storm. About 10 years ago Wastman penned a song titled “40 Days and Nights in Babylon,” reflecting on his time as a Soldier.

“I just wanted to describe the situation of the common young Soldier and what they go through,” he said. “I just wanted to paint that picture. People can relate to that.”

More than 12 million people tuned in to watch “The Voice” Tuesday, but Wastman says he tried to only focus on the 300 people in the studio audience watching him perform.

As the televised competition progresses, Wastman vocally battles to be the one singer left, known ultimately as the title of program — “The Voice,” Win or lose, Wastman is enjoying every minute on the national stage.

“It would be some validation for what I’ve been doing forever,” he said. “I think it would be a great thing ... It doesn’t matter if I win or not. To me, just being on the show is awesome. I’m just happy to be here.”

View the Mycle Wastman photo gallery.