What’s it really like to be a vocal coach on American Idol? Peisha McPhee, mother of Smash star and American Idol runner-up Katharine McPhee, has the inside scoop on being a behind-the-scenes mentor on FOX’s number one reality TV talent show!
Wetpaint had the chance to speak to Peisha in an exclusive interview at the GMCLA Visionary Voice awards this past weekend. Peisha, an accomplished cabaret singer and American Idol vocal coach, was on hand to accept an award from the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles on behalf of the show.
The GMCLA Visionary Voice award was presented to American Idol “for its talented group of contestants and alumni continuously voicing their support for equality.” GMCLA stated in a press release that American Idol was honored “for its commitment to creating a platform where young voices can be heard and shared with the world, as well as its support of LGBT artists for the past decade.”
Tell me what receiving The Visionary Voice award from the GMCLA means to you?
I just feel so honored and privileged to be able to accept this award for American Idol. I love our show, and I love how our show has always been so inviting to so many – whoever the singer is, whatever their preference is of who they are, that we think that that's fabulous. So we really work on, it's a beautiful idea of equality for all. It’s really important because people are who they are. And it's important that they get to express the truth of who they are.
What did you think of the final two, Kree and Candice?
The winner and the runner up? You know, of course, Candice was our girl and Kree, we’d worked with. And they are just absolutely fantastic. We are so proud of them.
Were you able to pick a favorite?
You know, we work with the top people, and it's very emotional for us because we love them all. We really, really love them all. So we were really pleased with the top three, and the top five, Janelle Arthur was there it too and Amber. So we were really happy for all the top five girls and especially the winner and the runner up.
How did you end up coaching on the show?
[Vocal coach] Michael Orland actually recommended me, and then I came on Hollywood week three seasons ago, and Ken and Nigel liked what I was doing, so I never left.
Was it interesting because you knew it from Katherine's perspective?
It was interesting, yeah, yes. I did know. I knew it as a mom, and I knew it going there twice a week, and so, yes. It was very interesting.
What do you love about it?
Well, I've been a vocal coach for many decades and so to be able to work on that big a stage with the most amazing American Idol family that you could ever imagine. I mean, of that level is just an unbelievable experience.
And now they mention that the judges are changing. Does that affect your job in any way?
It doesn't. You know, everything remains to be seen, but a show like that always needs a vocal coach. That doesn't really change because they have to be somebody that cuts the numbers, makes the arrangements, tells them what to sing, teaches them the subtext, pops them up. There are so many things, so you always need a vocal coach.
Do you feel sometimes that the criticism is really aimed towards you? Like when they gripe on arrangement and stuff where you're like, “Hey!”?
Well, you know, we're very sensitive to it, and we do our best.
Who do you think might come on next?
I hope it's a legendary personality and singer or maybe somebody young, you know a young celebrity star, singer, that would be great. I love Keith Urban. I wish he would stay.
Is it weird to see Randy go?
No. I think he's been there 12 years, and I think it's time for him. He wants to do that, and I think it's great. You know, he stays with the legendary history of the show because that's what the show is going to have, a legendary history in television, and so he's 12 years a part of that. It's wonderful.