About 24 hours after his third-place finish on NBC's "The Voice," Tony Lucca was back home in Waterford, ending his period of "suspended animation" in Hollywood.
And then he started to get a sense of how exciting his successful run on the reality show was in the Detroit metro area.
"I've been hearing all kinds of stories, friends that would make a weekly ritual of (watching the show) and the gatherings that took place, people that got together at bars and restaurants that all chimed in with support," says Lucca, 36, who plays a home town show this week at Detroit's Saint Andrews Hall and will also perform at the annual Detroit fireworks display on June 25. He also sang the national anthem prior to the Detroit Tigers game on June 3 at Comerica Park.
"It's been a lot of fun experiencing it vicariously through everyone that got to watch it in real time. I heard about lounges and bars that let my friends and family come and use their TVs and everything. That's awesome. I was like, 'Wow, that must've been a lot of fun. Sorry I missed it...' "
"The Voice" has certainly vaulted Lucca, a cast member of Disney's early 90s "The Mickey Mouse Club" -- with other future stars Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, Kerri Russell and "The Voice" judge Christina Aguilera -- into a new strata. Since 1997 he's released nine albums and five EPs and built a solid following, but the show gave him a powerful platform that exponentially increased his audience. It also gave him two singles on the Billboard 100 chart, versions of Jay-Z's "99 Problems" and the Beatles' "Yesterday," the latter a duet with his coach, Maroon5 frontman Adam Levine.
And Lucca certainly intends to take advantage of that new momentum.
"I came into ('The Voice') hoping I would gain some additional exposure...and what we tapped into over the course of the last few months was unimaginable," notes Lucca, a Detroit-area native who returned to Waterford during the summer of 2011 after spending years in Los Angeles. "I feel like it's the spark plug my career has been sorely lacking. I've never been more excited about what I'm going to do creatively, and I could not be more grateful."
Lucca's next recording move is in something of a holding pattern for the time being. Universal Republic Records holds an option to sign all the contestants from "The Voice" and will most certainly put out an album by winner Jermaine Paul. Lucca says he's "not at liberty to discuss" his status with the label, but he's not resting on his television laurels, either. He recently traveled to Nashville to work on songs with some other writers, and he's been "getting all of the proverbial ducks in a row" with his management and booking teams for quick future decisions.
"There's been a lot of spring cleaning on my end, a lot of e.mails and phone calls, conference calls with my team, making sure we're all on the same page and everything," Lucca says. He's hoping to hit the recording studio during the late summer and says that "I'd love to have an album in the can by the end of the year. But as far as getting it out, it's probably not feasible 'til the new year."
He does, however, expect an assist from Levine, who was a passionate advocate for Lucca and has remained a friend and continuing mentor.
"I'm very much still in touch with Adam," Lucca says. "He's been privy to all of the contractual discussions we've been having. He'll be on board in one way or another. He's already starting to put some meetings in place for me to sit and meet and write with some heavy hitters as well.
"He's been great, just a true friend who's been very honest and forthcoming the whole way."
As for performing, this week's Saint Andrews show and the fireworks appearance are two of just a few summer dates Lucca has scheduled. "I just want to spend some down time with my family," he explains. But Lucca has put together a nearly 10-week fall tour that begins Sept. 1 in Laramie, Wyo. and will run into early November.
Thanks to "The Voice," attendance will surely be up for those shows, and Lucca says the increased recognition factor -- for himself and for his wife, Rachel, son Liam and daughter Sparrow -- has "been a lot of fun."
"My wife gets recognized a lot now, as does my son," Lucca says. "When people see me and they see the family, it's, 'Oh my God, that's totally him!' They want to meet the whole family and give us congratulations, which is nice. You can tell everyone wants to see it keep growing, which is an awesome thing."
Tony Lucca performs Thursday, June 21, at Saint Andrews Hall, 431 E. Congress St., Detroit. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $12. Call 313-961-8137 or visit www.livenation.com.
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