Raising his Voice: East Flatbush singer competes on TV show

County of sings: Haitian-American singer Zaxai, an East Flatbush native, says that appearing on NBC’s “The Voice” is a dream come true.
Tyler Golden

He’s only a few notes from fame.

An East Flatbush singer is now gunning for the top spot on the television vocal competition “The Voice.” Haitian-American performer Zaxai beat out hundreds of other would-be competitors to secure a spot on the show, but says it was luck that led him to audition for the reality show a few months ago.

“I just happened to hear about it and showed up to the audition, and I kept getting through and through and ended up at the blind audition,” he said.

At that “blind audition,” broadcast on Oct. 8, Zaxai’s powerful rendition of Redbone’s “Come and Get Your Love” immediately impressed celebrity judge Jennifer Hudson, who will be his coach on the competitive singing show. Zaxai said he was thrilled to be chosen by the actress, singer, and “American Idol” contestant, because he admires her rise to stardom.

“I am a huge fan of all of the judges, but Jennifer — she is the epitome of power and personality, and I’ve enjoyed watching her on previous shows and her story from not winning [‘American Idol’] to becoming an actress,” said Zaxai.

The former choir boy grew up listening to a wide variety of musical genres and artists, including Celine Dion, Michael Jackson, gospel music, Motown, and the sounds of his parents’ native Haiti. He plays many genres and sings in six languages, working in the house band at the Russian nightclub Baku Palace in Sheepshead Bay.

Now that he has a national platform, Zaxai is proud to represent a new type of island talent hailing from Brooklyn.

“I’m pretty excited because it’s been cool,” he said. “A lot of rappers come out of Brooklyn and it’s not often you hear about singers, and I’m from the heart of Brooklyn and I’m of Caribbean descent.”

His experience on the show has given him invaluable skills, some great friends, and a lot of experience with the pros and cons of showbiz, he said — but he still gets nervous before taking the mike.

“It’s been such a balance, but mostly it’s been so exciting, full of nervousness, and anxiety,” he said. “There’s a time where the pressure is on and you have to trust in yourself and prepare, and I’ve been prepared since I was 12 years old. But when I’m on stage, the pressure is definitely there.”

If he ends up as a finalist, Zaxai has some big plans.

“I’ve thought about it and haven’t at the same time, but I would take my parents to Haiti, and give a big thank you to everybody, because this whole journey is not because of me, but also by grace of God,” he said.

And if he falls short, he says he will forever remain grateful for the opportunity and the connections he has made.

“The talent is incredible and it’s been fun seeing my friends enjoy themselves, watching them perform, and it’s epic to see the diversity,” said Zaxai. “The friendships and bonds I’ve built being on this show — I love a good adventure and meeting people I would never meet if not for ‘The Voice’ and it’s been a dream come true.”

“The Voice” airs Mondays and Tuesdays on NBC at 8 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimon@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @AS1mon.

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