Nov. 27--Chris Cauley has performed with Tyler Perry, competed on "The Voice" and traveled Europe in the Michael Jackson tribute show "Man in the Mirror."
But he's just as content singing at intimate venues such as Red Clay Theatre and Velvet Note or performing with an ensemble, as he will do Dec. 13 at North Point Community Church in Alpharetta.
"I love (small) settings to prove to people that I will entertain you," Cauley said during a recent interview at Tin Lizzy's Cantina.
He's a dapper fellow, the kind who looks natural in a fedora. He and his wife, Sandra, the current Mrs. Georgia, fall into the Impossibly Good-Looking Couple category.
Cauley, who lives in Alpharetta, became more broadly known two years ago after participating on Team Adam -- the group coached by Adam Levine -- on NBC's "The Voice." He lost in the battle rounds to Tony Lucca (the "Mickey Mouse Club" veteran who came in third), but, for Cauley, the experience was always about having fun.
"The producers asked me once (on camera) with this big dramatic pause, 'So what's going to happen if you get sent home?' And I was like, if I get sent home, I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing. I've been doing this for 10 years," he said.
Cauley, who attended Columbus State University for a semester of theater studies and serves as a worship leader at Buckhead Church, has plenty of pedigree.
In 2009, he went on tour with Perry's show "Laugh to Keep From Crying." He had been working with Perry's house band, Simply Irresistible, when the music director approached him with a message.
"He said, 'I hate to lose you, but Tyler said he wants the white guy in the band for the next tour,'" Cauley said.
While performing in the show was "one of those little victories that I can tell my kids about one day," Cauley said, the run for "Laugh" was cut short when Perry's mother, Willie, died in December 2009.
But the connections the 29-year-old Cauley has made in his young lifetime have paid off.
The audition for "The Voice" cropped up when his college booking agency tried to hook him up with the show during its first season. But Cauley was busy overseas with the Jackson tribute, where he was one of six singers.
"I was also the only white guy there," he said. "It's kind of my theme!"
Prior to Season 2, "The Voice" came back to Cauley. "They said, 'We know you're not a reality TV guy, but ...'" Cauley said with a laugh. "I take a lot of pride in paying the dues. But I talked to (Season 1 winner) Javier Colon, and he was like, 'Man, just do it.'"
Cauley had two noteworthy takeaways from his time on the show: He learned from Levine that not taking yourself seriously is the epitome of coolness, and that U2's Bono personally reviewed his blind audition before giving permission for Cauley and Lucca to sing "Beautiful Day" on "The Voice."
But that's the past.
Now, Cauley is promoting his new EP, "My Turn," which he funded through a successful Kickstarter campaign (he raised about $1,800 more than his $15,000 goal). It debuted in September at a sold-out CD release concert at Red Clay Theatre in Duluth.
The songs showcase Cauley's creamy vocal style on the tender, string-laden ballad "Barely Hanging On," his love of Earth, Wind & Fire-styled R&B funk on the horn-infused "It Won't Be Me," and his ear for arranging on a slinky reworking of INXS' "Need You Tonight."
Cauley recorded the album at Murray SoundLab, located at Mount Paran Christian School in Kennesaw.
While he's certainly humble, he also was confident in the type of record he wanted to create and didn't stray from his gut.
"The majority of the pop world is, unfortunately, a lot of garbage, when you've got licking wrecking balls and twerking," Cauley said in a nod to Miley Cyrus' recent activities.
"For years I was terrified of the word pop, but when we went into the studio, I put up signs saying 'WWMD' -- What Would Michael Do? Because Michael Jackson was the king of pop," he said. "So what made him so great and timeless compared to the junk nowadays? The melody and the hooks are the same, but musically, it's phenomenal. So we decided, let's make a pop record, but let's make it musical. Record labels will frown on it, because there is some flashy drum and guitar stuff on there, but I wanted that."
Cauley's talent is evident, and, as much as he wants to break through as an artist, he's also realistically eyeing a career path as a songwriter.
He cites friend Dave Barnes, who wrote Blake Shelton's hit "God Gave Me You," as the perfect example of a guy who can sell out the Loft at Center Stage, but who really earns a living through writing.
"If the pop and radio world are not going to take that chance on real musicianship," Cauley said of his style of music, "I know the writing world will. I'm not going to dumb myself down or sell my soul."
For more music news, interviews and concert reviews, visit the Music Scene blog at www.accessatlanta.com.
Chris Cauley. SERV Ball, 7 p.m. Dec. 9. $100-$275. King Plow Arts Center, 887 W. Marietta St., Atlanta. 770-516-1108, www.servone.org. Cauley also will participate in the free Christmas concerts at 6 and 8 p.m. Dec. 13 at North Point Community Church, 4350 North Point Parkway, Alpharetta. 678-892-5000, www.northpoint.org.
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