The respect of those you respect is worth more than the applause of the multitude. (Arnold Glasgow)
This is going to be a blog in two parts. The first part being, I want to take a moment to recognize a truly great person in this crazy world, and a truly special person in my life – my friend Tony Lucca. You may remember him from season two of The Voice, which is how he and I met. That’s me interviewing him after the season finale above. Tony came back to the show this past Tuesday, which meant I got to interview him again, and I always leave our conversations thinking about how wonderful of a person he is.
Tony has constantly inspired me by example. His success is the result of strictly hard work and passion. I’ll never forget the night that I came down to interview him before his “Chapter Two” tour stop in San Diego. When I walked into the venue, he was in the middle of assembling his own equipment for the show – and when he saw I’d gotten there, he dropped that to greet me and make sure that he had the appropriate time for our chat. He could’ve had someone else put things together, and he certainly didn’t have to worry about me, but that’s Tony. He takes care of his own business, and in the year-plus I’ve known him, I have never once heard him complain about anything.
Something else I admire about him is his honesty. When I talk to Tony, I know that he’s going to tell me the truth. Not the media-friendly answer, not the response that makes him look good, or even the one I might be hoping for, but the real story. And that story comes in thoughtful answers and explanations that give me the proper context so that I understand. Tony’s confidence in who he is, what he believes in, and what he’s doing is so inspiring, especially in the entertainment business, where we all (myself included) have to worry about what someone else thinks. I wish I had the strength that he does.
Tony is also one of the classiest, most down-to-earth guys I’ve ever had the pleasure of sharing a red carpet with. He has always made time for me whenever he’s in the area. I think I’ve done more interviews with him than any other Voice artist, and that’s on him, because he’s the one who says yes. The moment I realized I was doing something good with my life was when I arrived at Universal CityWalk for a concert the show was putting on, and from at least 30 feet away, Tony noticed I was there and acknowledged me. Even though we didn’t get to interview together that day, when we ran into each other backstage, he stopped to give me a hug and a hello anyway. Then there’s that San Diego interview, after which he told me he appreciated the time I’d taken to write about him, and how much care I took with telling his story. When he saw me again Tuesday, he congratulated me on my promotion. Tony takes the time to let everyone around him know that they matter. And those little moments of mutual respect mean a lot.
Let’s take a break and watch the video for Tony’s new single, “Never Gonna Let You Go.”
Now, part two. What Tony and I share in common is our arrangement of priorities. There’s a saying he has, which I wholeheartedly agree with: “It takes the time it takes to get the music right.” When Tony could’ve rushed new material out to capitalize immediately on his post-Voice exposure, he instead came back to the show when he felt he was ready. He’s always worked on his terms. Getting to talk with him again has made me realize how important it is to me to make sure I continue working on my terms.
Another Voice alum, season three’s Paulina Cerrilla, did something very sweet for me today. She created my Twitter fan club. I am beyond humbled that I have enough fans for such a thing to exist. It’s the latest moment in a few over the last couple of days where I’ve been able to see and hear my impact in the world. I’ve done a few interviews with other alums of recent, and they have all had very kind things to say about me and specifically, how I treat them. On Tuesday, Carson Daly even commented mid-interview that he should hire me, and later tweeted me to tell me “You’re very good at what you do.”
These compliments mean more right now, because I have realized something about myself that I’ve probably always known but have never had the courage to admit: that what I love and the kind of writer I am is just not compatible with the business of journalism. I’m just not wired like other folks in my position. My editors go a little crazy sometimes because I don’t care about article clicks, ad revenue, or trending topics, even though I totally understand why they do. Lots of other folks have tried to tell me not to get so personally invested in my work or the people I work with. Given those things, I don’t know how far my career can grow.
Yet I’ve also made peace with the idea that I don’t mind. Those qualities that may impede my commercial success are the same ones that got me my own fan club, and that earned me those compliments from Tony, from Paulina, from Carson and others. My priorities are to be not just a good writer, but a good person. I would never be happy if I altered how I do anything. As Sasha Allen told me this week, “There would be nothing that I would change, because that would be changing me, and who wants to do that?”
That’s what talking with Tony reminded me of. He’s proof that you can find success on your own course, if you’ve got the guts to stick with it. I still find myself looking up at him. I’m never going to be a successful musician, and I’m certainly never going to go on tour with Maroon 5 or anything wild like that, but if I can be half the person Tony is, I’ll be happy.
Photo credits: Richard Caughlin (front page image), Joy Serquina (red carpet photo)