Six months ago, Will Breman was just scraping by. Playing his guitar everywhere and anywhere he could, he didn’t know how much further his music career would take him.
Now, he’s caught the attention of millions worldwide, emerging as a semi-finalist on ‘The Voice’.
Last Tuesday, Mr. Breman made his way into the show’s Top 8, announced first among nine other contestants. Becoming comfortable on ‘The Voice’ stage, Mr. Breman gave his fourth live performance the night before with Young the Giant’s “My Body.” While an end is drawing near, Mr. Breman takes the weeks as they come, viewing each as another personal milestone.
“’My Body’ ended up breaking the Top 20 on iTunes,” said Mr. Breman. “I feel like I’ve already won.”
Since making it to the live shows, Mr. Breman has pushed himself every step of the way. Through each performance he wanted to reveal a different side of his artistry and personality to the audience.
A few weeks ago, when contestants dedicated songs to someone influential in their lives, Mr. Breman chose Jason Mraz’s “I Won’t Give Up” for his mother. After Mr. Breman was diagnosed with Aspberger’s in middle school, he felt broken, but his mom never saw him as anything but perfect. For years she acted as his rock, so he wanted to do something in return.
“The chorus, ‘I won’t give up on us, even if the skies get rough,’ ” said Mr. Breman on the show. “That’s what she did for me.”
Musically, this song choice presented a whole new side of Mr. Breman.
“This song felt like a breath of fresh air,” he said. “It was nice the audience was receptive to something completely different.”
Turns out, Mr. Breman’s fans wanted different. For the Top 11, the audience had control of song choice. To Mr. Breman’s dismay, they chose “Light My Fire” by The Doors. Not knowing what he was going to do, Mr. Breman was shocked, but he soon realized the song’s potential.
“Knowing the fans, they appreciate my ability to flip songs and turn them into my genre,” said Mr. Breman. “(John) and I found an amazing cover and worked off of that, giving me the opportunity to do some scatting and get a lot of my jazziness out there.”
While experiencing different sounds on stage, Mr. Breman brought something else unexpected to the show – Oscar the Pug. Throughout rehearsals, Oscar sat atop John Legend’s lap, giving his owner some much needed support.
When this process began, Mr. Breman didn’t know if people would support him like Oscar always had.
“Of course I was nervous going in,” said Mr. Breman. “Being on the autism spectrum, there was a good chance no one would understand me.”
Now, Mr. Breman receives hundreds of messages and emails from people like him lending their support and gratitude. With that encouragement, being in the public eye and performing in front of millions became easier.
Before, Mr. Breman feared singing without his guitar. ‘The Voice’ took that security blanket away. Just by doing it over and over, Mr. Breman got used to a new performance style, dancing confidently with nothing to hide.
Although Mr. Breman has grown on the show, who he is as a person and musician never changed.
“I did this my way, and no one can take that away from me,” he said. “A lot of people have sung songs straight, based on how the artist recorded it prior. In my case, I was able to take every song and completely make it my own. I was just me being me.”
No matter what happens, Mr. Breman hopes to bring a bigger and better version of himself back to Santa Barbara. Later this month and into the new year, local residents can see Mr. Breman return to some of his old venues, like Island Brewing Co. and Presqu’ile Winery.
“I’m excited to go home, take a couple of days off, then start again,” said Mr. Breman. “I cannot wait to come back here and make Santa Barbara proud.”
Mr. Breman will take the stage at 8 p.m., today on NBC.