At age 15, Connecticut native Braiden Sunshine reached the semifinals on NBC's "The Voice.”
Today, at age 19, he’s a sophomore at the University of Connecticut, studying music education and planning his career as a musician.
Sunshine, who grew up in Lyme, has several local shows coming up, including the Durham Fair on Sept. 29 and the Southington Apple Harvest Festival on Oct. 5. He recently played the Berlin Fair and has played at the Meriden Daffodil Festival.
His father, David, is director of resident services for the Meriden Housing Authority.
In an interview Thursday with “On the Record Music,” the Record-Journal’s music podcast, he said that playing fairs can be either intimate performances on a small stage or large productions on a main stage with a full audience.
Lately, he said, he’s playing with a full band—guitar, bass, drums and saxophone—including a couple of guys he has been playing with since he was 9 years old.
He joined his first band at 8 years old. Silver Hammer played two shows every weekend until the other band members went off to college when he was 14, he said.
“It was a real gigging band and it was an awesome experience for me as a kid,” Sunshine said.
From there, he picked up a guitar and started performing on his own. It wasn’t too long after that “The Voice” came up.
He said he was “kind of tricked into” auditioning for the singing competition show by his mother, who told him they were attending a car show in New Jersey.
“I thought something was kind of funny when she chucked the guitar in the back of the car to go to a car show,” he said.
Sunshine made the cut, and performed his blind audition during the season’s first episode, which aired on Sept. 21, 2015. He was chosen for Gwen Stefani’s team and made it to the semi-finals, before being eliminated on the Dec. 7, 2015 episode.
“It lead to so many doors being opened,” he said. “Sometimes going outside of your comfort zone isn’t the worst thing in the world. That’s a big thing I learned from that show.”
Since competing on “The Voice,” Sunshine has released two EPs and toured the country. College is his priority for now, but he said music is what he wants to do.
He’s working on a new album, and hopes to release it early next year.
Braiden Sunshine is scheduled to play 11:30 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 29 at the Durham Fair. The show is included with admission to the fair.