Spreading his ‘voice’: Seals family tune in to see Nolan Neal on NBC broadcast

Published 8:42 pm Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Photo Courtesy Dana Seals Gillian The Seals family had the chance to see Nolan Neal on NBC's "The Voice" last week.

Photo Courtesy Dana Seals Gillian
The Seals family had the chance to see Nolan Neal on NBC’s “The Voice” last week.

Music just comes natural for the Seals family.
Coming from the bloodline is Nolan Neal, currently part of NBC’s “The Voice” television series. With his soulful rendition of Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” hitting crowds across the nation last week, the Seals family in Elizabethton were proud as ever to see the inspiration Nolan has become.
“Everyone in my family was in tears as we saw Nolan on “The Voice” last week,” Dana Seals Gillian, Nolan’s cousin, told the Elizabethton Star Tuesday.
It wasn’t Nolan’s first appearance on “The Voice”. Following up a booming music career in Nashville, Nolan’s first time of the show was stricken with tragedy.
“One day Nolan and his dad, uncle Mark, had a heated argument on the phone,” Dana said recounting the story. “Mark told Nolan he wished he hadn’t screwed up all of his chances. Later, when Nolan could not get him on the phone, he learned my uncle had committed suicide. Nolan began to struggle with grief that led to addiction.”
But as Dana recalled, Nolan said you can’t ever count out a Seals.
“The nonprofit organization Musicales helped Nolan to go to rehab and start to turn his life around,” she said. “It was hard for me to see “The Voice” not pick my cousin the first time around, knowing all that he had gone through and his heart from music. During this time around, Nolan had sent me a text about something personal I was going through and he said, ‘You’re going to be OK. You’re a Seals. We are survivors and overcomers and I’ll be praying for your heart to heal’.”
And performing “Tiny Dancer”, which Dana recalled Nolan playing during a performance in Nashville, only made last week’s performance even more memorable.
“Many people have reached out to him since last season about grief,” she said. “I think it has made him stronger. The song he picked, he has played for years. We were all crying as we saw all of the judges turn around and hit their buttons, as they heard and experienced something we had all seen him do for many years. I am proud of him for his audition, but mostly I am proud of his gracious heart and strength of character.”
Dana, her brother, Dylan, and Nolan were all cut from the same cloth when it came to the music profession.
“My grandmother raised my dad and uncle on Ray Charles and took them to see the Rolling Stones,” Dana said. “They started a band, called the Knight Tymes, and they played in the Knoxville area. My uncle Mark moved to Nashville as a session drummer and met Nolan’s mother, Cathy, a local singer.”
While there was distance between the cousins – Nolan being raised in Nashville and Jefferson City and Dana and Dylan being raised in Elizabethton – music continued to flow through their veins.
“All of the cousins were raised to love music and play instruments,” Dana said. “My grandfather taught Nolan his first song on guitar, “In the Pines”. Dylan and I started playing guitar early and participated in the Elizabethton High School guitar club. Nolan was very talented at everything he set his mind to, including sports, but we made mixtapes and homemade recordings with cassettes in my grandfather’s basement of Nolan writing his own songs in his teen years.”
Nolan, adventuring in songwriting and performing, and Dylan, pursuing work in the recording industry, both moved to Nashville after graduation while Dana played in a number of bands and wrote songs in the Tri-Cities area.
Nolan became very in tune with the music scene in Nashville, working at Hotel Indigo for five years, showcasing singers and songwriters, even helping Dana play a couple of shows there.
“Nolan has always been an encourager to other musicians,” Dana said.
It has been a busy music career for Neal. From touring with well-known bands like Tonic, Saliva and Shinedown to even joining multi-platinum group, Hinder, as their lead singer in 2014.
But throughout an event career, Neal now is solidly “Team Adam”, with judge and Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine, on the television show as he looks to make his mark on the country.
2016 has proven to be just as kind for the rest of the Seals’ cousins.
Dylan, who has experienced Grammy success in 2010 mixing and recording Rhonda Vincent’s “Destination Life”, finished building a new custom studio in Johnson City for mixing and mastering albums. Dylan has also served as tour manager with Christian musician Michael W. Smith.
For Dana, the native recently wrote the song “Heat on the Track”, which is used by WJHL for their materials for the Bristol Motor Speedway and NASCAR races and released “The Carter County Jail Sessions”, an album inspired by her experiences working with women in the jail doing musical therapy for Red Legacy. Dana was recently in a film about the 1927 Bristol Sessions called “Born in Bristol”, coming out next year and starring Dolly Parton, Sheryl Crow and Vince Gill. She was also in a recent music video by the Avett Brothers for their hit song “Ain’t No Man.”
But while Nolan continues to stay busy in California, he’ll continue to have the support locally, Dana said, adding “the sky is the limit for him.”
Individuals are encouraged to follow the Nolan Neal Facebook page online and check out his cover of “Tiny Dancer” on iTunes and check him out on this season of “The Voice.”

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