Why Rockin’ Mama — and Team Christina protégée — Alisan Porter Should Win The Voice

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

I got hooked on “The Voice” in Season 2, many years back, and will never forget the anger I felt when rocker Juliet Simms was denied victory. She should have won — critics knew it, her coach CeeLo knew it — but somehow Team Blake’s Jermaine Paul snagged the big prize (of course, Jermaine is a talented singer in his own right, but many of us expected Juliet to win!).

Since then, I’ve gotten excited over a handful of candidates — the standouts in my head are Matt McAndrew (Season 7, Team Adam), Cassadee Pope (Season 3, Team Blake), Michelle Chamuel (Season 4, Team Usher), and, of course, Jordan Smith (Season 9, Team Adam). All were the kind of candidates you just knew, at first listen, would make it to the finals (and they all did!).

I wasn’t planning on watching “The Voice” past the blind auditions this year, but something — rather, someone — captivated me in a way that few other “Voice” contestants have since Juliet Simms. I’m talking about Alisan Porter. Her rich, passionate, vocals are breathtakingly piercing — and utterly inspiring.

As many music and entertainment writers have noted, Alisan’s jaw-dropping vocals on her audition cover of Linda Ronstandt’s “Blue Bayou” — as well as Janis Joplin’s “Cry Baby” and Aerosmith’s “Cryin’”– made her a true standout. A one in a million girl — and certainly someone who deserves the title of “The Voice” for the show’s 10th Season.

But while her voice is compelling, so is her personal story.

Alisan Porter’s entertainment career began in 1991, when the now 34-year-old mom of two scored a starring role in the movie Curly Sue. But instead of seeing her acting career take off, years later, Alisan found herself in the midst of alcohol addiction. And while she’s been sober for eight years, most of her energy up to this point has been focused on motherhood and marriage.

Should Alisan nab the victory on Tuesday night, it’ll represent a true comeback for someone who seems to truly deserve a comeback.

Another reason you should vote for Alisan Porter — either by downloading her song on iTunes, or voting for her on The Voice’s home page/app before Tuesday 10 a.m. ET — is that no one else like her has won the show. Finalist Hannah Huston (Team Pharrell) is the 20-something gal who can sing anything (kind of like Cassadee Pope … and dozens of other contestants); and country singer Adam Wakefield, while talented, is  really just another version of Team Blake Season 7 winner Craig Wayne Boyd.

My second choice for winner, Iraqi-American bluesman Laith Al-Saadi, is also a true original — with his bellowing, big voice and out-of-this-world guitar soloing ability. But the show is called “The Voice” for a reason (no offense to guitarists!). A winner should bring something unique to the collective pop-rock vocal soundscape as well as a powerful contribution to the world of popular music.

Finally, it would be nice to see a female coach actually win this thing for once — especially someone as talented and nurturing as Christina Aguilera. The female coaches have the odds stacked against them on this show, since every season has only allowed for one female spot (and, as it looks, one minority spot), while bro-mancers Adam Levine and Blake Shelton remain the big mainstays. As a side note, wild gal Miley Cyrus and R&B piano mama Alicia Keys are sliding into the new judge slots for Season 11, replacing Pharrell and Christina Aguilera, so that should shake things up a bit!

Those of you who don’t follow the show should take a few minutes to listen to Alisan Porter for yourself (just do it before Tuesday!). I’d be shocked if any person, rockmommy or not, isn’t moved by her vocals and her presence.

The Voice Season 10 Final airs Monday, May 23, 2016, at 8 p.m. on NBC. For more on how to vote and download the official app of “The Voice,” check out the show’s home page.

— Marisa Torrieri Bloom is a writer, guitar teacher, mom, and the founder of Rockmommy.

I’m Not a Beyonce Fan, but Lemonade is Epic

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom 

I’ll be the first to admit I wasn’t a huge Beyonce fan back in the pre-2014 days, when the pop diva’s biggest hit was the cheesy bachelorette-party anthem “Single Ladies.” I like my music with a lot of edge, lyrically, musically, and vocally, and while Beyonce’s got the pipes, tracks like “Irreplaceable” didn’t deliver an earth-shattering sonic experience.

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Beyonce’s “Lemonade” is one of the best records by a rockmommy — or anyone, really! 

My feelings about Bey started to shift when, in 2013, I watched her rock the stage at the Super Bowl Halftime Show: Here was this powerful mama, flanked by an all-girl rock band, doing her thing with those curves and that voice. Months later, I downloaded “Drunk in Love,” her salacious duet with hubby Jay Z. It’s still one of my favorites.

Fast forward to 2016, when I’m hitting my midlife stride in the thick of marriage and young children — an experience that Beyonce, wife of Jay Z and mama of Blue Ivy, totally gets. As such, “Lemonade,” Beyonce’s 12-track album and one-hour video experience, is as profound and transformative as reviewers like Rolling Stone’s Rob Sheffield have promised.

Until I heard “Lemonade,” I had no plans to ever download anything by Beyonce, ever. But so many of my friends and musician peers rhapsodized about its profound artistry, seething-wife lyrics, and creative collaborations that I couldn’t help myself.

Kicking off with the etherial, captivating Pray You Catch Me,” “Lemonade” takes the listener on a journey through anger and redemption (albeit, one that occasionally reminds me of lesser-known artist Imani Coppola). It’s hard to pick the best track, but I’m particularly drawn to “Hold Up,” with its hypnotic tempo and catchy pre-chorus (“Hold up, they don’t love you like I love you … slow down, they don’t love you like I love you…”). My other favorite, so far, is the rock-guitar-heavy Jack White collaboration Don’t Hurt Yourself, where she sings (presumably to Jay Z), Who the fuck do you think I am? You ain’t married to no average bitch, boy.”

Beyonce delivers the unexpected with these, as well as the country ditty “Daddy Lessons” and the eerie, trip-hoppy tune “6 Inches,” which features one of my favorite new artists The Weeknd.

While much of “Lemonade” flows with sultry vengeance and feminist undertones, Beyonce makes a powerful nod to racial inequality in “Formation” and the experience of African American women in “Freedom.” beyonce-lemonade-3

And still, the more I listen, the more I discover. I’ve only owned this record for a few days, and I’ve already listened to it something like six times, each time unearthing some new gem or insight. That’s the mark of great art — you always take away something fresh from every encounter.

So seriously, download “Lemonade” now. You’ll be rockin’ out and hailing this pop-turned-rock-but-still-pop mother for weeks to come.

—- Marisa Torrieri Bloom is a writer, guitar teacher, mom, and the founder of Rockmommy.