by Jessica Giles | May 15, 2020

Royce on the Rise

Tallahassee musician Royce Lovett on vulnerability, The Voice and his hometown’s influence

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Tallahassee artist Royce Lovett, who appeared on the last season of The Voice, celebrates his Florida roots in his songwriting. Photo by Adam VL Taylor

Royce Lovett became a dreamer on a winding street in Tallahassee. As a child, the 30-minute drive down Meridian Road to his parents’ house was when Lovett first played with poetry and lyrics, weaving together words and melodies as the car snaked underneath the canopy of oak trees heavy with Spanish moss. Once home, he would retreat to the empty field around the corner and perform his songs for the three-feet-tall grass, watching the wind send his make-believe crowd into a frenzy.

Lovett’s been making music since he was a kid, but nowadays he doesn’t have to imagine a sold-out crowd swaying to his songs; that’s his reality. The 30-year-old’s star has been steadily rising over the years, but his soothing-yet-gritty reggae/rock performances as a contestant on the last season of NBC’s The Voice made him a recognizable face around the Sunshine State. While The Voice viewers saw a distinctly reggae side of Lovett, his albums are much more of a musical soup, mixing rap, hip-hop, rock and reggae with a whole lot of soul. We caught up with Lovett to talk about his Tally blood and time on The Voice.

Why are your Tallahassee roots so important to you?

RL: I just have so many weird, awesome, bad, good, fantastic, horrible memories of life in Tallahassee. And all of that together says love to me. And all of that together says family. So when I think of Tallahassee, I don’t necessarily think ‘Oh, we’re the capital city. Oh FSU, FAMU whoop, whoop.’ I just kind of think there is a legacy here. My grandparents built something here. I’ve had moments that kind of changed my life in Tallahassee.

Talk to me about the depth and inspiration behind your lyrics.

RL: My inspiration has changed over the years but it always has had this focus of love, and I think the reason why it has changed is because I’m constantly understanding more of love and different sides of love and the truth about love. So when I first started out, a lot of my songs dealt with what I was thinking about. And then as I progressed in songwriting, I started trying to figure out, ‘How do I make music more palatable to others?’ And then I got interested in telling stories about others and listening to stories.

Telling stories in your music requires being vulnerable with a huge audience. Is that scary?

RL: It definitely is. I think as a man, you’re taught to be strong and to show armor, and I think as a black man, [you’re taught] don’t show weakness and to be strong and have armor. And then the moment weakness is shown, it’s the thing that everyone’s going to laugh at. And then, in the world of hip-hop, you’re taught to fake it till you make it. People want to know you were in the hood but they don’t want to know you’re still in the hood. I’ve realized that vulnerability is such a huge blessing to people, and it’s a blessing to me because I have literally nothing to hide. It’s freeing on both sides. I think it’s a little bit more inspirational too to those who look like you or come from where you come from.

How has your appearance on The Voice changed things for you?

RL: I definitely left with a greater sense of gratitude. My goal was to get on one episode and to use it as just another boost on the checkmark of things that you’ve done. I left feeling completely grateful for my life and what I have, realizing that some people don’t have something good to go home to. As far as tangible career stuff, The Voice has a huge platform of people that watch it, and I think I’ve been recognized more often than in the past, and I think that Tallahassee really appreciated the way I represented them and the way I was proud of my city on a national TV screen.

What can people expect next from you?

RL: I have a lot of songs that I’ll be putting out as singles. So fans can expect more new music, surprise releases and definitely expect for me to be a lot more engaging with the hopes that they will also engage. I think you’ll hear a little bit more pop from me. I think you’ll hear a little bit more love songs from me.

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