300: UT alumnus, Austinite Reid Umstattd takes on The Voice

Hailey Howe

When “The Voice” contestant and UT alumnus Reid Umstattd recalls the roots of his passion for singing and performing, he reminisces on his days as a freshman with a nascent band and an open mic at the Cactus Cafe, where he sang his first gigs.

The 2005 radio-television-film alumnus and his roommate started a band, Nelo, and played at local shows and fraternity parties during their time as students.

Though the group spent time after graduating in Athens, Georgia pursuing a music career, Umstattd quit the band four years ago but returned last fall when he auditioned for “The Voice.” He said that music was not something he could just put on the shelf permanently.

“The goal starting this journey was just to somehow bring music back into my life,” Umstattd said.

Umstattd wants people to know that he’s not just another Californian in Austin for the live music scene — he was born and raised here.

The “rock soul” singer reveres his native Austin for influencing musicians and fostering his musical ambitions. As a third generation Longhorn who “bleeds burnt orange,” Umstattd said that Austin is a kind of melodic Mecca, one with music in its DNA.

Regarding his experience competing on “The Voice,” Umstattd said, “Each round gets more fun and more terrifying.”

With tens of millions of people anticipating the denouement of the 2018 season of the show, Umstattd said that competing has been everything between terrifying and exhilarating, but nonetheless rewarding in many ways.

“I think (what you can) take away from most (while you’re on the show), along with the relationships you can make … is just learning about yourself and learning how strong you can be when you need to be,” Umstattd said.