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Rudy Parris: Contestant of “The Voice” plays at festival

Picture+of+Rudy+Parris.
Picture of Rudy Parris.

Picture of Rudy Parris.

Picture of Rudy Parris.

Jesse Najera, Reporter

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Visalia’s Rudy Parris, a country music singer who attended the April 9 Haggard Boxcar Festival in Bakersfield, talked about his experience in becoming a cast member on the NBC show “The Voice.”

Parris was fortunate to get a VIP audition with some of the producers of the show thanks to Gary Avila. Avila is an entertainment manager who once managed the band Papa Roach. He heard Parris’ music online and was impressed with his talent. He reached out with the idea to work with Parris on a future project that manifested into an opportunity to be on “The Voice.”

Before he could get to the blind auditions that were aired on television, Parris had to pass through a series of auditions in front of many people. The last one was in front of Universal records executives, NBC executives, show host Carson Daly, and executive producer Mark Burnett.

Parris said before you can start performing on the show, there are several steps and contracts to be signed.

“You have to get a lawyer and negotiate contracts with Universal Records,” Parris said. He, along with the other performers, were even required to take a psychological test. Up to and during the taping of the show, Parris says that is was common to be scheduled for 10 hour days on the Universal Studios set, sometimes. “It’s not what anybody thinks it is. It’s a very hard job to do, and it’s a lot of hours,” he said.

During the blind audition that aired on NBC, Parris likened it to riding a bull. “A lot of people couldn’t do it. They would break down, forget lyrics, makes mistakes, and cry. It was kind of sad sometimes,” Parris said. “It was the scariest, most surreal, most powerful thing I’ve ever done in my life. To be standing on that stage and to have to deliver in front of those people, including some of biggest superstars in America, it’s just intense, man. I felt like I was dreaming.”

Parris survived the ordeal and was selected on the third season as a cast member of team Blake Shelton. Parris didn’t win but was featured in that season’s live finale with a guitar and vocal performance on “Rock and Roll All Night.”

Parris’ music roots can be traced heavily to the Bakersfield Sound.

Violin was the first instrument that Parris learned to play as part of his school’s music program in the fourth grade. Parris says he excelled at the violin and would regularly receive music achievement awards from teachers. “That really encouraged me to practice.” He started taking guitar classes in seventh grade and continued through tenth grade. “If you look at my school record, guitar classes were the only A+ grades I ever got,” Parris said.

Prior to making his television debut on “The Voice,” Parris was able to perform at Buck Owens Crystal Palace venue for 10 years as well as the yearly Owens Christmas party and other private events. Parris explained the importance to him of being able to continue making music in the sound and style of local music legends like Haggard.

“He was my main influence. If it wasn’t for Merle Haggard, I wouldn’t be singing. I had no interest in singing, but when I was about eighteen years old, I was at a party. It was late and somebody had put on his album. His voice came emanating out and it was a magical, life changing, moment for me. I asked a friend who the singer was. They told me his name is Merle Haggard and that the song was called ‘Misery and Gin’. I listened and it was like the whole world closed off. It was just me and Merle Haggard’s voice. Right then and there I told myself that I had to learn to sing like that.”

Parris has gotten to know, and play alongside, many of the legendary country singers of the Bakersfield Sound. Before Owens passed away, Parris and Owens had gotten to know each other well. “When my father passed away, Buck called my mother to give his condolences to the family and that meant a lot to me,” Parris said.

Parris performs a wide variety of music. He counts the music of Merle Haggard as having a huge influence on him. On his debut album, “Makin’ My Way” from Warrior Records, Parris performs country music in the style of local legends like Merle Haggard and Buck Owens. He recorded his album at the Capitol Records recording studios in Hollywood. “We recorded in the same room that Buck and Merle recorded many of their hits in,” Parris said.

Parris continues to perform and tour at several venues and events. He is scheduled to perform with several notable performers in the music entertainment industry. He has recently been contacted by the producers of “The Voice,” to be featured in an upcoming segment called “After the Voice” on NBC.

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