Geoff McBride Uses His Voice to Make an Impact
Geoff McBride’s ‘Journey’ spans life, love and helping kids
Deserved or not, music and TV stars have a reputation for living large and coming from the “it’s all about me” place. Singer-songwriter Geoff McBride does not fit that mold.
Geoff McBride at La Crema Tapas & Chocolate, one of his favorite places in Rosemary Beach to relax and enjoy a bite.
That’s not to say that the Santa Rosa Beach resident and singer doesn’t shine with the same star power that had millions of viewers sitting up and taking notice when he blew away the competition on NBC’s mega-hit talent competition “The Voice.” When the trim 51-year-old walks into the room, heads turn, whispers echo from table to table, and people stop by to shake hands and ask where they might catch him singing this week.
A brief conversation with McBride makes it clear that it is not superstar narcissism that leads to his success but his ability to connect with others through an unmistakable talent. The confident, self-assured singer has many stories to tell, and music is the way he communicates lessons he has learned and values he recognizes as important. His most recent CD, “Journey to the Soul” (2014), is a collection of these stories he describes as “true-life facts about love, happiness and human relations.”
It is entirely typical that McBride credits his wife, Lisa, with starting him down the road to his successful run on “The Voice.” She saw a pop-up ad online, encouraging singers to audition for the show.
“I told her, ‘Honey, I am not into reality TV,’” McBride recalls, “but she emailed a demo and 15 minutes later, we got a reply.” Many auditions later, his musical energy in his rendition of “Higher Ground” blew away judge Christina Aguilera. Beneath McBride’s controlled, dapper exterior lurks a powerful voice that drives home his musical points with arresting artistry.
Working on “The Voice” was stressful, McBride says, although a great adrenaline rush.
“It’s live, with no retakes,” he says. “You work crazy hours. That’s what you’re there for. But I don’t think I would do it again. I don’t believe my career is a competition. You are a winner when you have talent.”
That wasn’t always the case. McBride’s performance career literally came through the school of hard knocks. The singer was previously a professional kickboxer and has a medical history to prove it: broken nose, eye injury, broken fingers, broken ribs.
“I took it very seriously,” he says. “If you take something seriously, you become that thing. Now I just enjoy the art of it.”
Aside from the injuries, his 8-year-old son was the impetus for McBride to leave kickboxing behind.
“He didn’t like it at all,” the singer says. “You could actually hear the licks.”
McBride’s wife and five children figure far more prominently in his conversation than CD sales or Hollywood chit-chat. Emphasizing his points with defining hand gestures, the bespectacled North Carolina native explains that he and his wife came to the Emerald Coast to find a quiet place to raise their children. The area’s many restaurants and performance venues were a plus for the singer as he sought to revive his career.
“I’m not a squeaky-clean person,” he says. “I’ve had my ups and downs. Nobody ‘discovers’ you. You discover yourself.”
The professional musician sings to his children, who range in age from 31 years to 18 months. McBride calls these private performances “giggle music,” with “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” being an in-house favorite.
Anthem for the Abused
The singer-songwriter has come to keenly feel the pain of children who aren’t cuddled and sung to, but rather physically or mentally abused. About four or five years ago, McBride became involved with the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center (ECCAC), an area organization that works to prevent child abuse and neglect, protect children and restore the lives of child abuse and neglect victims.
“I always loved kids,” McBride says. “I was shocked at the prevalence of child abuse today. I had to do something to help.”
Julie Hurst, CEO of the ECCAC, praises McBride as a dedicated volunteer.
“Initially, we met him when one of our board members heard him sing,” she says. “We were looking for entertainment for our annual Golf and Gala. For years, Geoff has provided entertainment for our events at no cost. We really appreciate Geoff, and he is truly part of our team to help kids in our area and beyond.”
“Wipe Away Your Tears,” a song on “Journey to the Soul,” delivers a message about what we can do to help these unfortunate children. The powerful video has become popular on YouTube. Penned by Grammy award-winning songwriter Jerry Peters and produced by Trammell Starks, the song is an anthem for the previously unsung, suffering children who need protection and assistance. According to Hurst, the McBrides are working on a way to have online proceeds from the purchase of the “Wipe Away Your Tears” CD or T-shirt go to the ECCAC. McBride envisions the song as just the opening notes of what could become a worldwide chorus of support for abused children.
“To me, children are the world. I am just the vessel,” he says.
The importance of family was the framework of his childhood. His father died of cancer when McBride was 6, and his mother raised the musician and his four siblings. She died last year, and McBride often sits out on his back porch to talk or sing to her. She followed her son’s career closely and was thrilled to see him perform on TV.
“I believe I am an old soul,” he says. “My mom used to always tell me I was an old man.”
In addition to his volunteer work and quality family time, McBride has ambitious plans to return to television — late-night shows, cameo appearances, morning shows. His career calls for a constant quest to stay in front of the media and, by extension, the public, he believes. Santa Rosa Beach is not a great place to launch a musical career, he says, but it is a great place to live, raise a family, perform and come home to after the necessary stints in front of the bright lights.
McBride and his wife launched Indigo Sol Records about two years ago, with the aim of ultimately attracting other musicians and building a secure future for his family. They are currently working on a blues album and managing the logistics and planning for a summer 2015 performance tour.
No plans are in the works for retirement from his music career. While in Los Angeles for “The Voice,” McBride ran into venerable singer Tony Bennett in the hotel business center, working on a new album. McBride recalls that when he asked Bennett how long he planned to continue his musical career, the singer told him he would keep at it until the day he died. McBride is singing off the same page, with a versatile range to take him as far as he seeks to go.