More is being revealed about the departure of The Voice 8 contestant, Anthony Riley, from the competition. On Monday, coach Pharrell Williams announced that Anthony, a street performer from Philadelphia, had left the show due to “personal reasons.”
Earlier this week, a Pennsylvania TV station obtained a statement from Anthony that revealed he left The Voice due to health issues that led to hospitalization.
Now the singer is opening up about his health issues to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Anthony says he struggled with drug addiction for two years, and has completed a rehabilitation program at a local treatment center.
“For me it’s tough because everyone’s just finding out and I’ve been moving forward [past my departure],” said Anthony, from Pittsburgh, where he was interviewed.
The singer sat down with The Voice’s production staff in January after winning the Battle Round victory, and shared his ongoing struggle with substance abuse. That night, NBC producers flew him back to Philadelphia so he could enter Clarity Way, a drug and alcohol rehab facility in Hanover, Pa.
NBC footed the bill. The network did not return the paper’s request for comment.
“The Voice has been a really great source of support,” Anthony said. “At the time, [being on the show] wasn’t working for me and I felt like I needed to go, instead of taking on more responsibility than I could handle.” The Voice workload is a typical singing show 14-16 hour day.
“They make sure we understood we were getting ourselves into,” said Anthony. “It’s stressful, there are a lot of days that can turn into lonely days.”
“I had a lot of time to think about myself,” he continued. “I recognized something was getting the best of me.”
The singer would like to be a part of season 9, but for now, he’s done with the show. “The Voice is over for me,” he said.
One of the reasons Anthony spoke out about leaving The Voice was to clear up rumors that were swirling about his departure. One story had him dropping out because he didn’t want to sing against fellow Team Pharrell contestant, Mia Z., in a Battle Round. Anthony said Mia is “quite literally one of the best singers I’ve heard in my life. If anything it would be an honor to go up against her.”
There was some controversy surrounding a tweet sent from his account dedicating a performance to Mumia Abu Jamal, including a video of a 2013 rally in Philadelphia. “I don’t think entertainment and politics should intersect,” said Anthony. “I literally want my fans to get to know me through my music before we delve into political associations and affiliations.”
Anthony claims that the tweet was sent by Christopher Mapp, his former assistant. Mapp said he has been unfairly referred to as a “disgruntled manager,” and that the tweet “wasn’t malicious.”
Mapp also said he personally witnessed Anthony’s drug use, and was nearly evicted due to some of the singer’s choices. Mapp claims he and others have shelled out money for Riley without reimbursement.
Anthony, now committed to his sobriety and spiritual health, said, “One of the reasons I’m proud of being of a Philadelphian is that we all have our own struggle, no matter what you do, no matter how far down you go, you can always make a comeback.”
“I just hope someone hears this message. It’s not worth pursuing anything other than your dreams.”