Boudreaux’s no joke Lafayette singer advances to Blake Shelton’s team on ‘The Voice’

NBC photo by PAUL DRINKWATER -- Ray Boudreaux
NBC photo by PAUL DRINKWATER -- Ray Boudreaux

More singing and less mowing could be in Ray Boudreaux’s future.

The 25-year-old father of one from Lafayette sang his way to a spot on Team Blake (Shelton) on NBC’s reality singing competition series “The Voice” two weeks ago. The show’s “battle round” episodes start Monday, and, if Boudreaux survives there, he’ll be in Los Angeles to compete on the show each week, with his eye on the top prize — $100,000 and a record deal.

That would mean stopping his side job, cutting grass, for a while, or maybe for good.

“I still cut (grass) yesterday. It was the first time since it (the show) aired,” Boudreaux said from Lafayette Wednesday.

Boudreaux said he’s been singing for as long as he can remember, maybe since he was 8 or 10 years old.

“My dad used to listen to the local swamp pop music and Cajun French music, and I took a liking to it and just kind of went from there,” he said. “I started off singing old standards like that and then started venturing out on my own by the time I got into high school.”

The Lafayette singer, who also plays guitar, appears occasionally at Dupuy’s Oyster Shop in Abbeville, and Jefferson Street Pub, Marley’s and The District in Lafayette. While he plays with a band for bigger gigs, he goes acoustic for smaller shows, such as the ones at Dupuy’s.

Boudreaux considers himself a soul singer, and chose to perform Bill Withers’ “Use Me” for “The Voice’s” blind auditions, shot in L.A. this summer.

“I must have sung that song about a million times. It’s one of my favorite Bill Withers’ songs,” he said. “I’ve never heard it done on any of the shows. It’s not as popular as say, ‘Ain’t No Sunshine.’ I wanted it to be something new, you know.”

During blind auditions, the singers perform one song for the four judges — Shelton, Cee Lo Green, Adam Levine and Christina Aguilera — who have their backs to the singer.

If a “voice” appeals to the judges, they can swing their chairs around to see the singer, thus indicating their interest in having that singer on their team.

“It was obviously nerve wracking (the blind auditions),” Boudreaux recalled. “But we had done a few rehearsals and by the time I got out there, I knew what I was supposed to do. It was like a ‘now or never’ moment and I just kind of stepped up, did well, I guess.

“The crowd being there helped as well, you know. We rehearsed it a million times, with no one there cheering with you. I’m used to playing live, so having that crowd there helped me not worry about the judges being in those four chairs,” he said. “It was still a little nerve wracking, but once Blake turned, everything just went into auto-pilot.”

Not only did Shelton like Boudreaux, but Green’s chair spun around as well. When that happens, the contestant gets to choose whose team he wants to join.

“It was amazing,” Boudreaux said. “I didn’t expect for it to be that hard to choose, and it didn’t even cross my mind that I’d want to be on Blake’s team, but he was just so sincere. It seemed like he meant what he was saying. Not that Cee Lo didn’t, I just felt that Blake spoke to me a way Cee-Lo didn’t.”

Watching the auditions backstage were Boudreaux’s daughter, Audrey, who just turned 3, and his parents, Ray and Kellie Boudreaux, also of Lafayette.

The singer said it was cool to actually watch the show on TV.

“Because just being there was so overwhelming to me,” he said. “By the time I walked off the stage, I didn’t remember what Blake or Cee Lo said. So all this with Blake calling me ‘swampy’ and everybody’s talking about it, I didn’t remember that even happening.”

It was also overwhelming when Boudreaux walked into a rehearsal room later and faced Team Blake’s new mentor, the iconic Cher. She’ll be seen coaching the contestants starting with this week’s “battle rounds.”

“Like walking into the room, we had no idea who it would be and that was one of the furthest things from my mind, so I was shocked beyond anything else, just to the fact that it was Cher.” Boudreaux said. “So I think the whole time I was in the room, I was just thinking to myself, ‘How, how did this happen?’ But yeah, it was great. Just being in the same room with her was an honor.”