The Voice’s Lilli Passero on Finding Her Musical Lane and More

THE VOICE -- "Live Top 10" Episode: 1217B -- Pictured: Lilli Passero -- (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC)

Lilli Passero, who was eliminated from The Voice this week, along with fellow Team Adam Levine member, Mark Isaiah, came to Los Angeles after studying theater at the prestigious Carnegie Mellon University. In The Voice Blind Auditions, she chose Alicia Keys after the coach wooed her with a song. But, eventually, the retro “vintage pop” singer landed on Team Adam after he stole her in the Knockouts.

In a conference call with reporters on Wednesday (5/10) Lilli talked about finding her musical lane with Adam, the difference between working with Alicia and Adam, and much more.

On what was going through her mind when she was in the bottom 3 with Mark Isaiah and Vanessa Ferguson: It’s funny because you never know what’s going to happen but I did have this little gut feeling that it was getting near to my time to go home. So when I wound up in the bottom three it was a bit of an overwhelming experience because you’re sort of preparing yourself to leave before you know the results. I think I was preemptively feeling everything when maybe it wasn’t time yet. And seeing the performances didn’t change anything for me. I still was pretty sure I was going home.

Did her illness a couple of weeks ago affect her journey and performances on The Voice: I don’t want to say that my illness played a role in it. I think that my illness just affected that one week, because we didn’t have time to land on the perfect song and the perfect performance. After that I think [it was] because I can be flexible and versatile in some ways–because I think I was one of the least fully flushed out artists before I came to the show. I didn’t already have a clear lane to share with my coach. It was more about discovering that lane. Our time together was more about learning about each other and trying things rather than sticking to what we already knew I should be doing. And also a lot of the music I love is not necessarily music that would be conducive to the audience on the show. So, I’m amazed that I got as far as I did with just trying to figure it out as I went. ut I think that the sickness had little to do with it, just that one week.

On finding her “lane” by the end of her time on the show. It’s funny because I grew up with standards, the Great American Songbook, and I sang “Unforgettable” as a little girl. And “Town Without Pity,” you know, the [vibe] that I never sung before was incredibly familiar in terms of the music that I grew up on. But I don’t think that my lane necessarily is the music I grew up on. The music I grew up on is one of my influences and I’m influenced by so many different kinds of music. The lane that I left [the show] in was more about illuminating some of my influences. I’m not about to put out a jazz album, but you will always hear it in my singing and in my music.

Does she consider herself an actress who sings or singer who acts? Unfortunately, I’m sorry to tell you this, I don’t really respond to either one of those. I’ve never been comfortable putting myself in a box and I don’t think I’m going to start now. I’m very fortunate to be able to do both and to say that I love doing both and I will continue to do both.

Is she interested in a Broadway career? That is an interesting question. Because I am an actor, there are certain straight plays, of course, that I would love, love, love to do. I have not always really responded to a lot of current musical theater for whatever reason–maybe because I was raised on the classics. And when they don’t look like that it’s hard for me to get excited about them. You never know what the future holds and if the right role came along it would be an honor to participate in anything that I believe in so. We shall see.

On moving forward musically. Would you like to make an album coming off The Voice? I think to start [I’d like to make] an EP–really throw myself into making a couple of like great songs that I’m really proud of and see how people respond to them and then go from there.

What musical style would her reccord be? I think the easiest thing to call it would probably be vintage pop. You will hear jazz, you will hear blues, you will hear influence from the doo wop groups of the 50s and 60s, you’ll hear a lot of things.

On fans accepting a female standards crooner. I think the artist can transcend the song, I think it’s more about the person you’re watching and less about what they’re signing. I think I connected with as many people as I could and I’m not really interested, or it doesn’t matter to me as much who I didn’t connect with because that’s out of my hands. So, I think the world is ready for anything as long as it’s the right time for it.

Looking back, was her instant save song, “Stormy Weather,” the right choice? Maybe a bigger flashier song would have done the job. I think that Alicia’s pitch for Vanessa was really remarkable. I almost started crying listening to her fight for her. I think there are so many factors that go into it and, from the beginning I never thought I would get this far and I even said ‘God, how amazing would it be to get to the top 12?’ And then I got to the top ten so maybe it was something I manifested, that it was just my time to go home, I don’t really know. I think it’s hard. I understand the desire to want to find the answer, find the solution or pinpoint the exact moment or all of that, but I don’t know if that’s necessarily something you can do.

On working with Adam Levine. Did they always agree? What where rehearsal sessions like. [Rehearsal sessions] were interesting. They were always fun. He’s like such a fun guy to hang out with and he’s so smart and he knows so much about music and he’s very passionate. He really knows what he wants and I think he knew what he wanted more than I knew what I wanted. We would [go] head-to-head on things and at the end of the day, if I feel a million percent about something, I’m going to stick up for it. But if I’m unsure then I’m more likely to allow someone who knows more than me to have the final word. So he was picking my songs at the end and he really inspired me to be more confident in them. With “Unforgettable” I was really nervous to sing it especially because the Nat King Cole version is held so near to so many people–and also because of the nature of the song. I though, ‘at this point in the competition do I need to do something bigger or is this the right choice for me?’ And he really encouraged me to stop worrying about the competition and to just focus on me and doing something that looked really good on me. I really admire that about him. That even though he’s working for the show, he is not married to the outcome of the show, he’s married to the outcome of who we are as artists and people.

What drew her to audition for The Voice? My parents brought it up to me. They thought it would be a great opportunity for me to get my career to the next level, to put my abilities and what I do in front of a bigger audience. They said ‘you have nothing to lose only so much to gain’ and they were right. I’m glad that I [got out of my] comfort zone to do it, because I never wanted to be a part of a competition before. I’m so glad that I allowed myself to participate in it, because it was so, so, so rewarding.

On Alicia Keys fighting for votes for Vanessa. Was it fair that she said that a vote for Vanessa was like a vote for herself? I don’t know if you saw the whole episode, but [Alicia] said in the Mother’s Day video, ‘To be a mother is to be a lioness.’ And I think Alicia sees the people on her team as her cubs. I respect the hell out of her for saying and doing whatever she has to do to protect Vanessa. That same spirit is what got me on her team during the blinds. I mean, she decided that she wanted me, and she sang me a song and made sure she got me. I really admire and respect her for doing everything in her power to get what she wants, for what she believes. That’s just the way it is. Of course it’s fair, if anything it’s something that we should all aspire to do ourselves, to have that kind of passion and fire.

On the difference between working with coaches Alicia Keys and Adam Levine It’s night and day. They’re very different people. I think that’s why they are both coaches on the show, because they’re both wildly qualified but very, very, very, very different. I think Alicia would have thrown me down a slightly different lane in terms of song choices. But other that, I always felt kind of in awe of her when I was around her. I don’t know if it’s because she’s a women and has that maternal kind of queen-like vibe to her. And then working with Adam–you really forget that he’s Adam Levine because he’s so down to earth and very easy going. He treats you like a buddy right way. He’s very frank and straightforward and he doesn’t hold anything back. It makes you feel like you’re with your best friend who you can say anything to. And he was super, super dedicated and committed to finding the right things for me. I really appreciate how much he cared and how he never gave up and put his all into doing everything that he thought he could to let me shine. Working with him during the live weeks–we got much more time together than I got with Alicia. So in a way I felt like I got to know him better. But I’m so grateful that I got to work with both of them. I’ll probably be having realizations for the rest of my life about things that they left me with.

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Founder and editor of, home of the awesomest fan community on the net. I love cheesy singing shows of all kinds, whether reality or scripted. I adore American Idol, but also love The Voice, Glee, X Factor and more!