Former CMU student, Pittsburgh Apple employee James Wolpert prepares for Battle Rounds on 'The Voice'

by: Carly Noel Updated:

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PITTSBURGH - Before he heads into the Battle Rounds, I chatted with James Wolpert, “The Voice” contestant from Pittsburgh.

“‘The Voice’ came along and gave me an opportunity to break out and make the music thing happen,” said Wolpert.

Wolpert, a former CMU student, was working at the Shadyside Apple store prior to the show.

“My path before ‘The Voice’ was pretty conventional for kids my age.  I graduated from high school, and the next logical step was to go to college.  I was really into art at that time, so I went to Carnegie Mellon for art.  I was there for two years before I decided it really wasn’t for me.  I cut all of my losses and went on the music path.  I got myself a day job (at Apple) and tried to gig when I could,” he said.

Wolpert’s audition was one of the first to air on “The Voice” this season.  All four coaches turned around for Wolpert, including Christina Aguilera, who grew up in the Pittsburgh area. Wolpert chose Adam Levine as his coach.

“I got this weird gut feeling that I would be a good fit for his team.  His pitch was really sincere.  I could tell that he really wanted me,” Wolpert explained.

Following the audition, Twitter and Facebook went wild for Wolpert.  His biggest supporters appeared to be co-workers and fellow students. 

“I get a chance to do them one proud and put our Shadyside Apple store on the map,” he said.

Pittsburgh will be cheering for Wolpert during the Battle Rounds, in which the coaches pit two of their team members against each other to sing the same song together.

“Now we have an opponent to contend with.  It’s like a vocal boxing match.  It’s a different kind of pressure to contend with.  It’s not so much that you have to impress the judges, but you have to shine brighter than someone else,” he said.

It seems pretty nerve-wracking.  I asked Wolpert what he does to calm his nerves before he performs.  He said he waves his hands and feet faster and faster in succession -- something he did with his choral teacher in high school.

Wolpert is a 2009 graduate of Lampeter-Strasburg High School.   He moved to Pittsburgh to attend CMU and said he loves the Steel City.  

“I love going to the incline.   I love hanging out in Shadyside.  There are great bars around there.  I love hanging out at the Apple store because I’m a nerd.  I love going to the strip on Market Days.  My favorite restaurant to go to is Tamari.”