Ricky Duran: More to the Story

Taylor Harrington 9/7/2021 11:47am EST

Ricky Duran was the season 17 runner-up on NBC’s The Voice and says that his time working so closely with Blake Shelton and the advice given to him from the country legend will never be forgotten. Duran was given his first guitar at the age of six by his father, who tragically went on to succumb to suicide in 2012. Over the last almost ten years since his father’s passing, Duran has been working on “Waiting On You”, an extremely personal piece dedicated to his father, and has also joined up with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to raise awareness about suicide. Ricky Duran’s authentic sound and genuine voice lend hope to all those lucky enough to hear him, and “Waiting On You” will be available everywhere on 9/17/2021.

Welcome to Confessional Magazine. I’m Taylor, this is More to the Story, and today I am joined here with Ricky Duran. He is a phenomenal human being first of all, as well as a musician. You might recognize him as the runner-up from season 17 of NBC’s The voice, but there is so much more to his story. Thank you so much for being here today, Ricky! How did you first get into the music industry?

Thank you so much for having me! When I was probably six years old, my dad gave me my first guitar. He was a musician growing up and was playing out in the Boston area. Music was always a part of my life, but I wouldn’t say I really entered the industry until after I graduated college. When I was about 21, I started performing live at smaller venues and stuff like that, but what really happened for me was when I had my opportunity on The Voice. I think that really excelled my career and got me to where I’m at today.

If you could sum up your experience on The Voice into one word, what would that be?

“Dream”. It was a dream for me. It just felt so surreal, going there but not expecting it. I don’t think anyone really goes in there expecting to get even close to winning the show. I remember, it was the finale and it was me and three other contestants, and we were all just like, ‘Wow, I can’t believe we’re actually here, we made it to the last day on live television, doing what we love.’ It was just amazing.

It’s got to be euphoric, being up there on stage and being able to share your music with strangers everywhere. There is just so much joy in music. When you’re amping up to get out on stage for something as massive as The Voice, how do you get yourself into the headspace to give it your all?

I need a moment of silence. I like to sit back and think about how I want this performance to go. Most importantly, I try to get into the emotion of the song. I get in that zone and I think it’s really important that you deliver every song in a believable way, you know? That’s another thing about the song choice on choices on The Voice. It is really important that you connect with each song.

Totally! Then your audience connects with you more as well, and it completes the whole circle.

Exactly, and a lot of times they are tied into maybe a part of your story, which always kind of drives the song home.

Who would you say was the most influential throughout your journey on The Voice?

I would have to say, Blake Shelton. He was my coach and I got to spend time with him off stage, you know, just having a drink with him in his trailer and talking about the music industry. We talked more about the music industry rather than music itself, and I learned a lot from him.

If you were in Blake’s position on the show and there was somebody else looking to you for advice about making it in this industry, what advice would you give to them?

I think everyone approaches things differently, so for me, I’m very authentic. It’s hard for me to be fake and deliver a song that I really don’t like even if I think it might get me further in my career. To each his own. Some people are about that, but the advice from me would be to just be yourself. I wouldn’t stray away from who you really are as an artist.

Speaking of your own artistry, I know you have a new song being released on September 17th called “Waiting On You”. It’s a very, very personal song, but can you share a little bit of the story behind it with us?

I lost my dad to suicide in 2012, and after that I was in a huge shock. I had never dealt with anything like that in my life before. I didn’t really know how to cope with it and there were a lot of unanswered questions. A lot of times that happens with suicide. It’s like, ‘Why did this happen? How do I not see all this stuff?’ So I started writing this song kind of cathartically just to help myself through it. I wrote it from my dad’s perspective telling me not really why, but telling me to just get through the tough times, basically. I didn’t finish writing the song for years, because it was just a challenging thing to sit down and do, you know? When I finished it, I was like, ‘Well, I’m never going to record this one. It’s too personal’, and I didn’t really necessarily want to share my story. Now, over almost 10 years later, here I am sharing the song finally. I made a music video that I’m really proud of, too, and I teamed up with the AFSP, The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, to help raise awareness about suicide. I found that just through growing up and in life that it helps people to know your stories. Your struggle, it might just help somebody through their their own problems. I kind of just opened up as an artist and decided to tell my story.

First of all, I am so sorry for your loss. That is a devastating thing for anybody to have to go through, and your dad gave you your first guitar. Being able to share this kind of message is so important, because so many other people are dealing with the thoughts of suicide themselves, or not noticing those patterns in their loved ones. Mental health in general needs to just be talked about more, so it’s nice that you’re bringing music into the conversation because music can connect so many people that are struggling or going through this. Can you tell us about the events you have planned with The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention?

I’m in Austin, Texas, and I’m playing a show on September 12th at Antone’s Nightclub. It’s a famous Blues Club down here and all the proceeds are going directly to AFSP. I have a couple local bands opening for me as well as Jonny Gray, who was actually a contestant on the voice as well. It’s gonna be an awesome, fun night I’m hoping. Like I said, all the proceeds go to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, so it’s a great cause. Then there’s an Out of Darkness Walk that the AFSP puts on every year and I’m going to be flying to Western Massachusetts for a big show at Hanover Theatre that I’m finally getting to play. The 18th is the walk, and I have a team that I put together and I’ve raised the most money right now in in Massachusetts for the cause. So that’s really awesome and I’m excited to meet my team there and walk with them and talk for a minute, then I get to go play my show at Hanover for my hometown.

That’s amazing to be able to play to your hometown and share your music with the people that you love! You’re also getting a key to the city of Worcester, MA, aren’t you?

That’s all happening on the same day! They’re actually giving me the key to the city, on the 18th at Hanover Theatre. That’s a huge honor for me, coming from growing up in Worcester, going from bar to bar playing, just trying to make some money to where I am now, it’s gonna be an awesome moment for me.

That’s incredible! I always like to ask this question. In five years, where would you like to see yourself both personally and professionally?

I’ll start with professionally. My whole motivation behind creating music is to create timeless music. Music that people can throw on in 10 years and still say, ‘That’s great!’ I want to continue to do that and I’d love to be on tour when the Coronavirus backs down a bit. So touring and hopefully having at least a few records out that I’m very happy with in the next five years. Then as far as personally, I’m currently here in Austin living with my girlfriend, so, in five years I would imagine getting married. I’m getting older and I would love to have a family at some point.

You’re a bright spot in the music industry and I’m very thankful for you being able to share your story with us. How can our listeners or readers find your music to follow along with your journey and keep up-to-date with your new music?

You can check me out on social media at @RickyDuran on every platform. (Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook) I’m pretty big on Instagram and Facebook, but I don’t do Twitter too much. So for the most updates, I would recommend Instagram. I have a bunch of videos on YouTube and my music is available on all platforms (Spotify, iTunes, etc.) Please go check that out. I’d love it if you kept in touch and follow my journey.

Absolutely! “Waiting On You” is coming out on September 17th and 50% of the proceeds, I believe, that are made throughout the first week of the release will go back to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, which is also major! Everybody, please listen and share Ricky’s new song “Waiting on You” on September 17th! He is helping so many people by giving back at the same time that he is bringing joy through music to everyone. Thank you so much, Ricky for joining me today and letting us get to know you a little bit better.

Thank you so much for having me!

Originally from Edison, New Jersey, Taylor won the 2005 “Middlesex County Caring Award”, and hasn’t stopped caring since. When she is not writing or hosting More to the Story, Taylor can be found chasing her two mutts around Athens, Ohio where she currently resides with her husband. Moving to Appalachia has made a huge impact on her life, and she can’t wait to share some of her stories, laughs, and (mis)adventures with you!

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