Phillip Arnold had just returned from the first round of The Voice in Los Angeles, where, by all accounts, he stole the show. He was adored by the celebrity judges and praised by entertainment bloggers. TV ratings showed that his audience was 16 million strong.
So when Phillip collapsed onto his parents’ couch back home in Georgia, he had just one thought.
He turned to Mom and Dad and said, “I’ve really had a good life.”
It’s hard to disagree. The 19-year-old singer is well-spoken, he’s an Eagle Scout, and, oh yeah, he sings like you wouldn’t believe.
I talked with Phillip, who goes by the stage name “Pip” on the show, yesterday by phone. We chatted about his time in Scouting and how it has prepared him for the high-stakes world of music and reality TV.
Watch Pip’s audition by clicking here, download the song on iTunes, and follow him on Facebook. Pip’s next appearance on The Voice will be in March when the “battle rounds” begin. If he survives those, he advances to the live shows in April.
Here’s my interview with Pip:
Bryan: You started out singing at Boy Scout courts of honor. Did your troopmates realize your talent back then?
Pip: They liked it, judging by the reactions. I got asked to do it several times. It was always an honor to be able to do that for them. It was interesting, though, because you don’t really think about singing at a court of honor.
Bryan: Sounds like you were pretty comfortable on the stage early on.
Pip: I’ve always been more comfortable on stage singing than I am off. I think of every performance as big — even a court of honor. I try and give everything I have in every performance. I think being emotionally invested in each performance is what I try to bring.
Bryan: I assume you earned the Music merit badge, then?
Pip: I actually did do the Music merit badge. I also did the Theater merit badge. The music ones, because they mainly just required performance, were kind of earned by doing things on my own in everyday life.
Bryan: Was that your favorite merit badge?
Pip: I really enjoyed the Lifesaving and Swimming ones. I was always into swimming and camping.
Bryan: Do you have a camping memory that stands out?
Pip: I can honestly say my favorite Scouting experience was when we went to an island off the coast of Georgia called Cumberland Island. We spent five days there, on this secluded island. I just loved being away from everything electronic. It’s just a great getaway from the world to just relax and be in nature without all those distractions.
Bryan: Which Scouts or Scouters had the biggest influence on you?
Pip: My [Troop 287 Scoutmaster], Morgan Robertson, was really influential for me. He was a great role model. He was always someone you could just talk to. I am still pretty good friends with some of my fellow Scouts. Everyone has been so supportive of everything. I’ve been contacted by a lot of my old Scoutmasters. Some came to the viewing party that my parents threw, and they’ve all been super supportive.
Bryan: A lot of Scouts find it tough to balance Scouting and extracurricular activities, such as singing. How did you do it?
Pip: Sometimes it was very hard. Sometimes I said, I can’t go to the meeting tonight. I have 300 pages to read, I have a show this weekend I have to rehearse for, and I’m singing at a coffee shop. But I saw the rewards from people I had seen who were Eagle Scouts and had gotten recognition for doing it. It was worth it.
Bryan: Who helped you reach that final goal of Eagle?
Pip: My dad was a huge influence in that. He didn’t get his Eagle Scout, and I could see his regret for not doing it. For me, earning Eagle was a personal thing, but I was also doing it for him at the same time. You have to pick yourself up and say, I can spare the hour and a half to go to the meeting tonight. I can go this weekend, and I’ll just do my homework when I get back.
Bryan: What were your expectations when trying out for The Voice?
Pip: I don’t think, going into anything like this, you prepare yourself for how people are going to react. It could go either way. You could have people absolutely love you, or just say, “Ah, he’s all right.”
Bryan: Tell me about that first “blind” audition.
Pip: I can remember pacing around backstage and feeling that I had to prepare myself for the worst. Walking on the stage I was prepared to sing to the backs of chairs the whole time. When Adam turned around I actually didn’t even realize that happened. But as the rest slowly turned around, I noticed, and I got more nervous actually. The whole world kind of turned upside-down a little bit.
Bryan: Has it all sunk in yet?
Pip: Every five seconds, I think, maybe I’m gonna wake up and I’m going to be back to singing in coffee shops in Marietta for 16 people instead of on TV in front of 16 million.
I also chatted with Pip’s proud parents, and I’ll share their story next week. You won’t want to miss what Pip’s father (who was also his assistant Scoutmaster) had to say about Pip’s time in Scouting.
Photo by Lewis Jacobs/NBC