A chance free weekend brought Todd Michael Hall into the homes of millions of television viewers across the nation.
The 50-year-old Saginaw resident and businessman is now a familiar face around town, after having a run as a fan favorite on season 18 of NBC’s singing competition “The Voice.” However, Hall never expected to achieve the success on the show that he earned. In fact, he entered the audition process on more of a whim than anything else.
“It was kind of ‘I wonder what that would be like.’ For me, it was always about getting more exposure, and I thought it would be fun to just see what would happen,” Hall said. “Then I saw that they were having an open call in Chicago. I looked at my calendar, and I was open that weekend.”
At the open call, he performed Foreigner’s 1981 hit “Juke Box Hero” because the song let him showcase his vocal range. The performance earned him a callback and, eventually, he found himself in the blind audition round in front of the celebrity judges on the show. His repeat performance of “Juke Box Hero” caused the judges to take notice.
“That takes me back to the hair bands, man. That’s what I love,” judge Blake Shelton said after the performance. “That is a direct path to the finale, dude.”
Fellow judge John Legend noted rock was underrepresented on “The Voice” because the show didn’t draw talent of Hall’s caliber.
“It was magical. So impressive, Todd,” Legend said.
Music has always been in Hall’s blood. At age 15, he joined his brother’s band and began performing shows around the region, drawing an influence mainly cemented in rock.
“You go through the gamut when you’re growing up. … My mom was a little eclectic when it came to things like country and rock and pop,” Hall said. “There was a lot of rock ’n’ roll at that time with bands like Boston and REO Speedwagon. Then in the ’80s you had a lot of hard rock and heavy metal. I guess I would say I’m pretty strongly rooted in rock ’n’ roll, but R&B isn’t too far from rock, country isn’t too far from rock.”
Hall describes his vocal style as “melodic metal.” In his early years, he considered pursuing music as a career, but after graduating from the University of Michigan in 1991, the musical landscape had changed.
“Music is fickle,” he said. “When I got out of college, you had a lot of grunge with bands like Nirvana. … I figured my timing wasn’t good, but it’s not something that has ever bummed me out. My life is pretty good.”
That life includes his wife and family as well as his business. Hall is president of Glastender Inc. in Saginaw, which manufactures stainless-steel equipment for the food service industry.
He took an eight-year break from bands before getting back into playing around 2004. His return to music led him to join the band Riot in 2013. Being the lead singer of the long-established and successful band has taken Hall around the globe with performances in Japan, Europe and South America.
“You make a little money here and there, but what it’s really about for me is the experience. It’s not full time for me,” he said.
Hall’s biggest takeaway with his adventure on “The Voice” was the associations he made with the staff and his fellow contestants who went through a shared experience.
“I think those will be lifelong connections,” he said,
Hall’s solo recording debut, “Letters from India,” came out in 2017. The songs were inspired by the correspondence between Hall and a former pen pal in India — the woman who is now his wife.
During the coronavirus pandemic, Hall found plenty of time to work with Kurdt Vanderhoof, his new songwriting partner, on new material, and Hall’s second solo album has been written, recorded and is ready to come out this fall. His third album with Riot is also expected to be released this year or early in 2021.
“Being on ‘The Voice’ has got me hyped up and excited again,” he said. “I would call (music) my high-falutin hobby. It’s been kind of an unusual blessing in my life.”
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