Todd Tilghman won The Voice Season 18 but he admits to being terrified the entire time

Todd Tilghman
Todd Tilghman on The Voice. Pic credit: Mitchell Haddad/NBC

Todd Tilghman was crowned the winner of The Voice Season 18 in May.

Tilghman said that even though, midway through the season, the performances were switched to virtual, he has no complaints. The whole thing was just a wonderful experience, despite feeling terrified the entire time.

“A lot of people may not know this about me, but The Voice happened at exactly the right time in that I was in this place in my life,” says the 41-year-old pastor of Cornerstone Church in Meridian, MS, whose wife insisted he audition.

“I do joke a lot that maybe it’s a midlife crisis. The Voice just came at this time in my life where something had to change for me, and I didn’t know what or how.”

Truth be told, Todd thinks the show going virtual and him performing from his church may have something to do with his win.

The father-of-eight feels voters seeing his baby daughter asleep in a sleeping bag as he sang added to his popularity.

Now, five months after his win, Todd is doing his best to roll with all the new aspects of his life, despite not knowing what the future holds.

“Thankfully, we live in a world right now that you don’t have to be face to face to make connections,” he says. “You can get on the phone, you can get on email, and you can get on Zoom or Skype. There’s a huge building block in this really unknown future that I have right now, but, ultimately, I don’t have any complaints at all.”

The Voice winner also discusses why he likes the premise of The Voice, what it’s like to perform virtually, his advice for Season 19 artists, and more.

Monsters & Critics: What was it about this show that made it still interesting enough to audition for Season 18?

Todd Tilghman: First of all, I will never ever be able to be grateful enough to The Voice and what they have done for me and the platform that they gave me.

But in the beginning, frankly, I slipped on a banana peel and fell backward into it. My wife was like, “You need to go do this,” and I was like, “Heck no. I’m not going to do that.” And, of course, she won.

But The Voice is just beautiful. The whole premise of it; that people from all over the place with all different kinds of backgrounds, including people like me who are not old, but certainly not young and sexy, still get to come and be a part of it, so maybe that was the draw for me.

But at any rate, whatever the draw was, man, what a great experience it’s been for me.

M&C: In the past, there have always been rumblings that the contestants haven’t really shined post The Voice. Todd, what are you doing to build your music career, especially in this COVID era?  

Todd: Well, for me, honestly, I don’t know that I’m doing anything differently. Because I’ve met a couple of people who have been on the show, I’ve actually built some relationships with a winner or two of the shows in the past, so I don’t know that I’m doing anything differently.

But, I would just say, man, I am working so very hard to make this work. I am on the road all the time and on the phone all the time. The way that I see this, and I think I said this in the finale interview for season 18, is that the only thing that I know to do is rely on the people who know what they’re doing and the people who have the knowledge that I don’t have.

They’re smart, and they are experienced and seasoned in this industry, and I am not. What I can do is work, and so that’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve just been working very hard and making a lot of connections.

M&C: After you win, you do a week of press and junkets, and you’re running around doing everything. What’s the week after the week you win like?

Todd: Season 19 just premiered, and I still don’t think that I have fully realized that I won Season 18. It’s just been so busy, and there’s been so, so many things have been happening.

But I will say because it’s so funny how in all of these interviews that I did just after my time on The Voice, so many people were like, “So do you realize you’re the oldest person to win?” I do, thank you.

So, I will say that I took a lot of naps that week. Even now, I’ve got some things going on, but what I do try if I have any say in the scheduling, I try to schedule it a little bit later so I can just sleep in the morning.

But my life really immediately just took this insane — good but insane — turn, and I’m still riding it there.

M&C: What would it be like to perform a concert but to have virtual fans instead of having fans singing with you in person?

Todd: I said on Season 18 when the show went virtual that the audience … a lot of people ask me did the audience make you nervous? Oh, no. The other artists around me made me nervous because they were so great. I love the audience, the audience, and the energy they give.

But I do have, and I’m not trying to say like I’m some sort of anomaly, because I think lots of people have this, but I do have a unique experience in that before The Voice, I had never really performed.

I had only sung in church, and when you sing in church, you do learn to connect on a different level than just people. So, I think that helped me.

It was hard, but what I tried to do in my time on The Voice, especially when it went remote, of course, is I tried to just connect with those songs, like when I did Glory of Love. I just tried to put something in my mind like me and my wife, and I love her so much, and she’s so beautiful and so good. I just put something in my mind, in my heart, and that’s all I did.

But, yeah, it is harder, but it can be done.

M&C: Before COVID, the winners got to go down the red carpet, got to do a lot of press junkets, got to really experience media training head-on, and really experience what their life will be like as an artist in the real world. What piece of advice would you give to this season’s artists to prepare themselves since they’re not getting the average experience that previous seasons got from The Voice?  

Todd: For me, honestly, I would just say to any one of these artists that are on the show this season: just be grateful. I so legitimately feel like what is supposed to happen at the time it’s supposed to happen does happen.

I feel like that’s what happened with me. A lot of people said, “Do you feel cheated?” No, I don’t feel cheated.

There’s a couple of things that are a little frustrating, not regarding The Voice, but regarding moving forward in this career post Voice. So, I would just say – just be grateful, and make all the connections you can, be grateful, and stay grateful. Keep your attitude good.

The Voice airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/7c on NBC.

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