As soon as singer-songwriter Kelly Clarkson mentioned singer and guitarist Eva Cassidy's name, The Bundys — the trio that is the first from the Cincinnati region to appear on NBC's "The Voice" — knew she was the coach for them.
The Bundys consist of two sisters — Megan, 31, and Katey, 28 — and a brother, Ryan, 25, all Miami University graduates. And though they’ve sung and played together practically their entire lives, they officially formed their singer-songwriter group in 2012 when Ryan was still a student at Miami University, Katey had just graduated from Miami and Megan was living in Nashville.
"(Clarkson) talked about a lot of artists, but for us (it was when) she talked about Eva Cassidy … and she was always kind of one of our favorites," Katey said via Skype from her home in Chicago.
“It was kind of a cool moment because our grandparents were backstage and they were the ones that introduced us to Eva Cassidy, so it was kind of a moment like, ‘It was Kelly.’”
“The Voice” is a singing competition with four recording artists serving as coaches. Contestants are invited to a blind audition to perform before the coaches. Each coach selects 12 musical acts for their team, and teams shrink as the show advances through various rounds. The winning act wins a cash prize and a recording contract, but the show has catapulted the careers of many artists who fell just short of winning.
Heading into their audition for the show, the group preferred Clarkson and country artist Blake Shelton as their coaching choices, said Nashville-based Ryan and Megan during a phone interview with the Journal-News.
Shelton turned first after hearing Katey’s intro into the Indigo Girls’ song “Closer to Fine,” but Clarkson turned once Ryan and Megan came into the song.
“Blake ended up loving our sound, but Kelly right off the bat wanted to tackle the group dynamic,” Ryan said. “So just between that and what she was saying — and how excited she was — we just got really excited about it in the moment.”
The Wyoming, Ohio, natives were looking for a way to get out of their "road rut," Katey said. The trio has a 12-song album titled Louisiana Avenue (2015) and a six-song album titled Before I Go (2017) and believed "The Voice" was the opportunity they needed. "It's been such a wild ride ever since," she said.
“We kept saying we want something to take us to the next level,” she added.
“The Voice” decided to take on trios this season, which worked well for the Bundys, who didn’t want to try out individually. A producer reached out to the group last summer and asked them to audition.
“We were like, ‘Yes. Let’s do it,’” Katey said.
The show is heading into the Battle Rounds, where coaches pit two artists on their team against one another to sing the same song. After the “battle,” the coach chooses which performed better, and that artist moves on to the Knockout Rounds. If a performer is not chosen, their journey ends, unless any of the other three coaches “steal” them.
The Bundys are one of 12 acts on Clarkson’s team as they head into the Battle Rounds, which begin 8 p.m. Monday on NBC.
The Bundys are sworn to secrecy on the upcoming Battle Rounds, so they can’t share the details of the winner or whether anyone was “stolen.” They also can’t say which song they performed, but Katey said, “It’s a good one.”
“We’ve always loved this song, so that was kind of fun,” she said. “It was cool to take that on with another person, and kind of work it out.”
Though she couldn’t give details about the performance, Katey said working on the song “was kind of a different artistry; figuring out that four-part harmony was a little tricky, though.”
Megan, Katey and Ryan graduated from Wyoming High School in the suburbs of Cincinnati (2005, 2008 and 2011, respectively), and then all three graduated from Miami University in Oxford (2009, 2012 and 2015, respectively). Their parents are Brad and Tamara Bundy, and have a little brother, Evan.
“It’s so close to Cincinnati and feels like such a great distance away that you feel like you can escape from your home in Wyoming but close enough when you need money you can go back,” said Ryan, who majored in marketing and minored in English.
Katey called Miami University her “second home,” and many of her best friends from Wyoming also went to Miami. Though she was homesick during her first three months in Oxford, she said, “They almost had to kick me out at the end of freshman year.”
“I love my Miami experience,” said the education major. “It was a big college, but you don’t feel like you were swallowed like some of the other colleges. I just had so much fun there.”
Megan said studying Spanish at Miami “gave me a lot of good experiences in studying abroad.” But she also studied entrepreneurship as a minor, and she said that helped her when she was starting out as a musician.
“Being a musician in Nashville, and being an artist and trying to start your career different from anybody else is kind of like starting your own business,” she said. “One of the early lessons, it was like the very first day, was if you want to be an entrepreneur you have to be OK with ambiguity. And if that’s not the music industry, I don’t know what is.”
Michael D. Pitman has been a reporter in southwest Ohio since 1999. He's covered local governments in Warren and Butler counties, as well as state and national issues. He currently covers the cities of Fairfield and Hamilton.