Ian Flanigan achieved national recognition as the finalist with a distinctive whiskey soaked voice on Blake Shelton’s Team on the popular NBC talent competition series The Voice. The Country music troubadour is widely viewed as THE up-and-comer to watch. Ian has put his "get it done attitude" to his passion for Country music releasing not only his debut single, “Grow Up,” but also working on an album of 11 songs, most of which he co-wrote.
There is no doubt that The Voice and Bake Shelton, who was not only his coach on the show but is now his friend, have brought Flanigan's unique grit infused voice to the world but Ian Flanigan is not an overnight success as some might think. When it comes to a performer's lifestyle, Ian is no novice. As a young man, Flanigan traveled around the country by himself, living in Orlando when he was 18 and playing in bars, then moving to Colorado to continue to play music. “My family was not a musical family, but they were fine with that life style for me,” he explains.
Flanigan launched a new chapter of his life in the fall of 2019, when he and his partner Ayla sold all their belongings, bought a Winnebago they lovingly named "Flanigan", and with their daughter Kamea, hit the road performing and writing as they traveled. For the decade prior to The Voice, Ian had toured his grit infused voice and evocative lyrics across America, with a Country sound reminiscent of Joe Cocker and his evocative lyrics. His adventurous road approach to his ten year career in music is reflected in the way he's singing, songwriting, and guitar playing resonates with his audience immediately grabbing not only their ear, but their hearts as well.
As Flanigan describes their nomad lifestyle as, “We were going from state to state, working in parks in order to stay for free. We always had gigs booked ahead of time and we did a lot of songwriting festivals, fairs, any place that would have us. Ayla is really great in all sides of the music business. She managed me for a long time and handled all of my social media. It takes a village to do all of it.” Looking back on that time period of their lives Flanigan admits the uniqueness of being parents on the road and states, “It’s comical looking back. There we were raising our daughter, playing all over the country. I remember when she was five, we were playing this biker bar in Arizona and I look down and she’s sitting there eating hot wings. It is the adventure of a lifetime to raise a kid like that.
Flanigan continues, “One of the places we played in the Sonoran Desert was at Boyce Thomson Arboretum in Superior AZ. We were home schooling her and we were doing tours and she was explaining desert plant life to the folks on the tours we were doing. That doesn’t translate into a normal education. But my wife had been home schooled, and she was great at teaching Kamea." One of outcomes of Flanigan's accelerated path to stardom is being able to put roots down for his family. The devoted father explains, “Kamea is eight now, will be nine this fall, and for the first time in her life we will be settled in one place. We moved just north of Nashville a few months ago. I signed a deal with Reviver Publishing, and they’ve been hooking me up with writers here in town. I’ve already grown as a writer, it’s an amazing community. The house has been a big change for us but it’s awesome. And we wanted to get Kamea into school so she could be around other kids.”
Flanigan himself grew up one town over from the worldwide musical epicenter of Woodstock, New York, and he continues to draw inspiration from the rugged terrain and enduring beauty of his hometown Hudson Valley's Catskill Mountains. Ian was fortunate enough to perform at the 50th-anniversary celebration of the 1969 Woodstock concert, held on the site of that famous festival, at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in Bethel, New York. The two weekends featured Ringo Starr, Carlos Santana, John Fogerty, and Arlo Guthrie. Flanigan was also riding high on Valentine's Day 2020 when he played an ACL-Live showcase at Austin's Moody Theater.
However, not long after everything crashed for Flanigan as it did with all artistis, as the pandemic tightened its grip. Tours lost and the family still living on the road with $90 in the bank, Flanigan played his last gig at the Mercy Lounge in Nashville. Little did Ian know that fate was about to open a door. “To be honest I didn’t know that there was a scout from The Voice in the audience when I was performing at The Mercy Lounge that night in Nashville,” Flanigan says. “The scout came back to the green room and asked if I would like to submit a video for the show. I did and was called to go to Los Angeles."
Flanigan came armed to the audition simply, with nothing more than an acoustic guitar and a voice that emanates from deep within, and he caught the eyes and ears of modern music's biggest names. "I was originally going there as an alternate, but when I got there, I did my blind audition and Blake (Shelton) turned around and I was on the show. It was as quick as that.”
Millions of television viewers watched with anticipation as Ian progressed through the different rounds week-after-week on NBC’s The Voice on Team Blake. Blake Shelton said the singer/songwriter had "The most unique voice maybe I've ever heard on The Voice." Usher called him a "Top gun." Gwen Stefani said, "Nobody has a voice that sounds like that, it's just so rare." Flanigan excelled on the show, becoming a finalist and finishing in third place. "I feel humbled, blessed, and grateful," Flanigan said. “The experience was truly once in a lifetime and my appreciation for everyone on the show will never cease."
“The Voice turned out to be a huge blessing for Flanigan who has commented "I’m grateful for friends I’ve met through the show. Blake saved me multiple times during the show and has been a great friend afterwards. When we were working on the single, "Grow Up", we thought it would be great if Blake would be a part of it. We reached out and asked him if he would be interested and he was. You know he has helped other contestants before and I’m grateful that he was interested in helping me.” It was thrilling for Flanigan to record his current single, “Grow Up,” with Shelton, who was not only coached him on the show but is now his friend.
Flanigan has now entered the next phase of his life and career with the momentum he unleashed on national television, landing a record deal with Reviver Music, and working with new management at Noble Steed Music. He remains a principal with Nightcap Entertainment, the company he co-founded that provides label/content services and support to his fellow artists. Flanigan identifies himself as a life long learner who has kept his mind and heart open to embracing the adventures of life and lessons it can teach him. His experience on the voice provided him such a great opportunity for him to learn from great talented people further along and wiser than himself, that could help him get to where he wants to be.
Ian also keeps his eye on life's bigger picture and the importance of giving back to others. Flanigan is celebrating 5 years of sobriety and commitment to being there for others, he serving on the advisory board of Hope Rocks, the New York organization that supports those who are struggling with addiction, depression, and social isolation. Flanigan has not been shy about talking about his road to sobriety and how important it has been to his success in life both professionally and personally. He reported that regularly after appearances he will have someone identifying themselves as someone who has or is struggling with addiction and mental illness. The world needs more like Ian Flanigan who are candid about their past personal struggles and willing to be an example of the possibilities of a life of sobriety.
During this past March Flanigan was an opening act for Blake Shelton’s Ole’ Red concert series, including performing a show at Ole’ Red’s in Orlando, Florida his old stompinhg grounds. Flanigan comments, “It’s always great to be back in Orlando…I started performing here when I was 18, it’s nice to be back with a nice group of people to travel with.” Flanigan has also toured as direct support to Trace Adkins and Chris Janson, and earned millions of streams for his party rowdy debut single, “Grow Up” (featuring none other than Blake Shelton).
Ian is ecstatic to be back on the road touring, playing and greeting old fans and meeting new ones. “We have a pretty rockin’ live show,” he admits. “My favorite part of the business is the live aspect. We do all the other things to get to the stages and bring the energy to the people. That’s why I make music, is to perform. I like to have a nice guitar set as well as something that sounds like the record. I tell a lot of stories. I have a folk songwriter background, and the reason I love Country is the stories. I try to connect people to the stories behind the song. I try to do each show differently when I’m on stage, and not have the same show every time someone comes to see me. I want to let people have a great time and be together for a little while before we all go back to our day to day lives.”
Still riding high on his hit single “Grow Up” featuring Blake Shelton, Ian is currently promoting his newly released single “Under a Southern Sky” (Reviver Records). Flanigan has also released the video for his live performance at Nashville’s legendary Sound Emporium of “Under a Southern Sky,” an infectiously feel good second single from his upcoming debut album. The lyric music video, was written by John Randell, Jonathan Singleton and Jessie Alexander. “We tried to capture the summer night moments,” Ian pointed out about the single." Flanigan also is excited to release on June 17th 2022 his third new single titled "Last Name On It".
The album that these singlea are off is due out sometime this year through Reviver Records, a division of Reviver Entertainment Group located in Nashville and New Jersey. For Ian Flanigan, “Just to work with these amazing producers, engineers and writers to make this thing happen, it’s just an honor to be bringing it home. It’s been a learning curve for me. I think the album will be out in the early fall. Coming off The Voice, it’s been nothing but a blessing. I’m real excited for people to hear the album. For me to write and record and tour, I hope that is what I do for the rest of my days.” All Country music lovers would want the same as we watch the on the verge Ian Flanigan reach his destination of stardom that he has so strived for since his early youth.
By Deborah Gibson