Ricky Duran, 30, has always been a local talent and beloved musician
throughout Worcester County. However, Duran’s musical prowess
became known to the masses as millions of people watched him
perform and compete on NBC’s The Voice.
Duran grew up in Grafton where his earliest memories are of music.
“Since I grew up all I can remember is my father singing and playing
piano,” Duran said. Music was always a staple in the Duran household.
He said, “I picked up a guitar at the age of six and never put it down
after that.” He credits his father for inspiring his passion for music.
As a lifelong resident, Duran was always impressed with how supportive the city of Worcester was as he worked towards his dream of becoming a musician. “My family, friends and the people in Worcester are awesome!” Duran began his career by playing shows at various clubs and bars throughout the city. Some of his favorite venues to play at were Michael’s
Cigar Bar, Valentino’s and Meze. Duran even won several Pulse Magazine Worcester Music Awards throughout his beginning years as an artist.
Duran’s leading role on The Voice was an unexpected opportunity that would forever change his life. He recently moved to Austin, Texas, trying to make a name for himself in the music industry. “I was at the time trying different things,” Duran said, “as an artist, trying different things is essential.” Duran performed a gig at a venue in Austin when the club owner told Duran he knew a producer for The Voice. He suggested that Duran audition for Season 17 of the show. Duran did a tryout for the producer and was called for an Executive Callback. This was the beginning of a once in a lifetime opportunity for the singer.
For months prior to the live show, many segments were pre-recorded. However, the most exciting and nerve-wrecking moment came when Duran performed live on stage during The Voice’s Blind Auditions. Four music legends lined the stage: John Legend, Gwen Stefani, Blake Shelton and Kelly Clarkson. For those not familiar with the show, contestants sing during the blind auditions with the celebrities facing away from the singers. The celebrity judges select the best singers by turning their chairs, forming teams and battling it out on the stage throughout the season.
Duran said he was “nervous as heck” performing on stage, on live television and in front of four musical superstars. “You’re putting yourself out there and you have a pretty big chance of being rejected,” he said. Although he was nervous at first, Duran simply embraced the moment and performed with everything he had. Almost simultaneously all four celebrities turned their chairs around which Duran said was “mind-blowing”. He never thought he would turn all four chairs, but he was excited to be singing for them. “It was amazing to have them [the celebrities] just watching you jam
out,” Duran said.
The moment that all four chairs turned around was the moment that Duran knew he had just witnessed a “turning point” in his career.
After the chairs turned, the celebrities begged Duran to be on their teams but ultimately Duran chose to work with Blake Shelton. Each week viewers across the nation watched in suspense as the singers competed. However, the community of Worcester rallied around Duran with encouragement, support and most importantly, votes. As the competition became narrower and narrower, Duran found himself in the finals. “It was just shock. I was shocked that I was in the top two,” he said. Ultimately, Jake Hoot from Kelly Clarkson’s team won The Voice. Nevertheless, Duran was grateful for the experience and loved every moment on the show.
When asked what the most unexpected aspect of being on the show was, Duran answered that developing a genuine friendship with Blake Shelton was something he was not expecting, “Getting to know Blake as well as I did, I was surprised.” Duran said that Blake has been a true mentor throughout the show and after. The country music star even played a clip of Duran’s blind audition on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Duran described
Blake Shelton, “He is so genuine and so nice and honestly wants what is best for me.”
One thing that has dramatically changed in Duran’s life is the amount of publicity and attention that he has been receiving. He went from being a hometown music star to being nationally known. He has been recognized in airports and even when he just walks down the street. According to Duran the fame is not going to his head and he is thankful for the support and loves interacting with his fans. At times, the fame can make hanging out with family and friends difficult, especially when he comes back home to Worcester. “The weirdest part is when people ‘re-meet’ you,” Duran said. He explained that some people he has known through school or other facets of life sometimes treat him differently or are nervous around him since he has been on The Voice. However, he said he is still the same guy who was born
and raised in Grafton and performed in Worcester.
Fame and success are elements that Duran enjoys ever since winning runner-up on The Voice. However, his heart and soul are still where they have always been, on his music and on his family. “I don’t get distracted by shiny things,” Duran said. His focus is still unwavering as he works on his songwriting and his career as a musician.
Duran is optimistic and eager to share his music with the world. However, his life journey has not been an easy one. In 2012, Duran’s father, Ricardo A. Duran, took his own life after dealing with health issues. After losing his father and the man who inspired his passion for music, Duran went through a period of “not believing” and became very angry at the world around him. However, he continued onward with the support of family and friends. Duran and his mother, Odette A. Duran, shared a very close bond. Tragically, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. As Odette’s health declined, she made her son promise that he would live life to the fullest and follow his dreams. On June 18, 2018, Odette passed away after battling cancer. Duran said that when his mother passed, he was heartbroken but felt a certain “spirituality” and that he was still “connected” with her. In fact, he credits his mother with all his recent success and believes that she is still looking out for him.
Despite all the loss that Duran has experienced throughout his life, he believes that art and music can shine a bright light even in the darkest of times. Duran has even used his music to help others. A few years ago, he started “Songs for Hope” an event that shines a spotlight on suicide awareness. While on The Voice, Duran was very open and honest about his life story and realized that his experiences could help others as well. “I never thought I would inspire others,” he said. However, his story resonated with many viewers who also suffered loss. Duran said that being on The Voice gave him a different and bigger platform to reach and help more individuals.
According to Duran, The Voice has opened a lot of doors for him. His
goal was always to be a “respected artist” and he is determined to follow his dreams just like he promised his mother. Duran is excited to announce that his first album is currently in the works and he is also looking forward to booking a tour and traveling the country!
Duran is excited to return to his hometown for a performance at the Hanover Theatre on March 27th. Tickets went on sale at the end of January. This event will allow fans, hometown supporters and music aficionados from all over to listen to their favorite The Voice contestant.
Duran’s advice to other hopeful musicians is also great life advice in general. He said that there will always be obstacles in life, but you must keep following through and moving towards your goals. Duran believes that you should always try your best and give your all. He said he has performed in bars in Worcester with two to 300 hundred people and regardless of how many people were there, he always gave it his best shot. Now, he has been seen by millions of people on national television.
“It sounds corny but just follow your dreams,” he said.
Duran spoke of the times he attended the Worcester Music Awards and won throughout the years. He thanked Pulse Magazine for the event and for supporting him in the early stages of his career. “I love that they [Pulse Magazine] really did that. It gives recognition to the artists who are grinding out here,” he said. Duran also believes that Worcester talent is on the rise thanks to artists like Joyner Lucas.
Duran wanted to take a moment to thank the city of Worcester for its support. He said, “Throughout my career, the community has fully supported me. From showing up when I played in Worcester bars to voting for me when I was on The Voice, my fans, family and friends have always supported me. Thank you for everything and stay tuned, there is much more to come. This is just the beginning…”