Ricky Duran is definitely a dark horse to win season 17 of The Voice. He was one of only eight four-chair auditionees with his beautiful rendition of Leon Bridges’ “River” for his blind audition, choosing Blake Shelton’s team as the one he thought would help him the most.
During the Battle Rounds, he faced off with Marina Chello on The Zutons’ “Valerie”; Duran advanced, but they both did so well that Chello was saved by Shelton to advance to the Knockouts. During that round, Duran performed the Black Crowes’ hit “She Talks to Angels” and defeated Joana Martinez, but again — Martinez was saved from elimination by Gwen Stefani using her steal.
On the live shows, Duran has safely advanced every week so far, never winding up in the bottom and performing for the instant save. Here’s everything you need to know about this 30-year-old artist.
1. Ricky’s Father Fostered His Love of Music
According to his Voice profile, Ricky’s father, Ricardo, was a musician who taught him how to play the guitar and they played in a band together when Ricky was a teenager. Then his father later acted as the manager to Ricky’s band that formed during college, the Blue Light Bandits. Tragically, Ricky lost his father in 2012; Ricardo took his own life after his health went into serious decline.
Ricardo’s obituary details his love for his four children — Ricky and his three sisters, Julia, Maria and Natalie — and his love of music.
“Ricardo was also a very talented musician and he passed this gift to his children,” the obituary reads. “He spent many wonderful nights in the recording studio he built on his own, teaching his son how to play different instruments and recording albums. It was evident to everyone who knew Ricardo that he had two passions in his life; his love of music and his love for his family. Ricardo’s love for his children extended to their friends and his home became a second home to many. He loved to entertain and was always the life of the party. Whether it be sitting around his kitchen table and making memories, or downstairs in his recording studio playing the guitar with his son while everyone sat and enjoyed.”
In a recent interview with the Worcester Telegram, Ricky’s sister Julia said that their dad tried to get the three sisters into music, but it was Ricky who had all the talent.
“[My dad] wanted to pursue that but he had a family and he stopped,” said Julia. “He tried to get us girls into music but we didn’t have talent. When Ricky was 6 years old, my dad gave Ricky a guitar and you could see it. At 6 years, he was even talented.”
Ricky also lost his mother earlier this year. She died at the age of 66 from breast cancer.
2. Suicide Prevention is an Important Cause for Ricky
Not only did Ricky lose his father to suicide in 2012, but then in 2015, he lost his best friend to suicide as well. That is when he decided to hold a benefit concert in his hometown of Worcester, Mass., for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
The concert was called “Songs for Hope” and Duran told the Telegram that even more than the money, he just wanted to “[get] people together for the cause.”
He said at the time that suicide was hard for him to talk about, but he knows it is an important topic.
“I’ve come to terms with [talking about] it, to understand more about it and ways to prevent it or make you aware of it,” said Duran, adding, “I just want people to know that they’re not alone. There are places that can give you help and also that there are people who care about you.”
3. Ricky Is Classically Trained
After high school, Ricky attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston, which is the largest independent college of contemporary music in the world. It is a prestigious performing arts conservatory — Duran had to be incredibly talented in order to be accepted.
Interestingly, season 17 of The Voice actually had three Berklee alum advance past the blind auditions — Duran, Mendeleyev Allan-Blitz and Brooke Stephenson. Mendeleyev ended up on John Legend’s team and Stephenson was on Team Kelly Clarkson until both were eliminated in the Battle Round.
Duran also regularly won local Worcester Music Awards presented by Pulse Magazine, winning Best Male Vocalist in 2019. But he tells the Telegram that he felt he had plateaued in the Boston area and decided to move to Austin earlier this year.
4. He Has Released Original Music
Ricky has released several original songs as a solo artist: “Dreamin’,” “As the Sun Goes Down” and “Tattoo Tears,” which is about his friend who committed suicide.
“I want my original music to reach people,” he told Teen Music Insider in an interview, adding that his new song “Tattoo Tears” is “probably the most personal song [he’s] ever written.”
“It’s about my best friend I grew up with, he was getting married, he asked me to be his best man and then a few months later he passed away. It was actually — he took his own life. So that was tough and since then, I’ve started a non-profit benefit concert for suicide prevention and awareness.”
His band, the Blue Light Bandits, has also released an album. According to their Facebook page, Blue Light Bandits are a “piano-based funk-rock outfit defining a new genre of pop and neo-soul, with rock and jazz-inspired elaborations.”
5. Ricky Is Spoken For
Sorry, those of you out there who have designs on this sexy rocker that Shelton has compared to Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp. Duran is off the market.
Duran’s girlfriend is Alyssa Tosti, with whom he just celebrated his one-year anniversary. He posted a photo of them to Instagram earlier this year captioned, “When you follow your intuition for long enough, everything falls into place. So happy I met this girl.”
Tosti played varsity soccer in high school and in college and also loves skiing, snowboarding, and other extreme sports.
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