Contestant with Island connections on ‘The Voice’ next week

Regular Martha's Vineyard summer visitor Drew Cole performs during the blind auditions on "The Voice."

“Nerves get you, but it’s fight or flight.” This was how Andrew Arcoleo, better known by his stage name, Drew Cole, described singing and passing a blind audition in front of a nationally televised audience for the hit vocal competition show “The Voice.” He’ll face a battle round tonight on the NBC show at 8 pm. 

Each season of the show starts with a blind audition round in which a panel of celebrity judges must choose contestants to be on their team based on their voice, not their appearance. This season, the judges are comprised of Kelly Clarkson, Alicia Keys, Adam Levine, and Blake Shelton.

Islanders might recognize Cole, who has been a regular visitor to the Island since he was very young. Cole grew up in Ridgefield, Conn., but spent summers on the Island with his family.

“He’s just so talented,” Linn Shepardson, Cole’s aunt who lives on the Island, said. “We’re incredibly proud of him.”

Shepardson described Cole as having a “great affinity” for the Island. In the summers between college semesters, Cole would live in Oak Bluffs and work at Martha’s Vineyard Ocean Sports, working with the parasailing boats during the day. At night, Cole would play shows around the Island at places such as Sharky’s in Oak Bluffs and Eleven North, which is now Rockfish in Edgartown. As recently as last summer, Cole was singing at Bad Martha Brewery. “The Island will forever hold a special place in my heart,” he said.

This was Cole’s third attempt at auditioning for the show; he felt ready to win, but was still nervous. “It’s a very, very, intimidating stage … the live audience injects lots of energy.”

Each singer must choose a song to showcase their crooning skillset. For Cole, he knew exactly which song to sing — ”Sex and Candy” by Marcy Playground.

Cole felt the song was perfect in several ways. “It’s a song I’ve had in my repertoire for a little while; it showcased range,” he said. Levine also sang the tune with his band Maroon 5 on their album, “V.”

Cole also pointed out the concluding lyrics to the song, “Mama this surely is a dream.” “At the end, this must be my dream,” Cole said. “In the moment it felt right.”

Almost immediately after Cole began singing, Levine hit his declarative button, cementing Cole’s passage to the next round on the show. Shelton also hit his button toward the end of Cole’s set.

“Adam turned so early I was like, oh man, yes, I’m in. When Blake turned, it was the icing on the cake.”

The judges sang Cole’s praises after his audition. “Not only is that a voice, to me that’s the voice,” Levine said after Cole’s audition on the show.

“The way you navigated your vocals through that song was unbelievable,” Shelton said.

Cole then had to choose one of the judges to be his coach, helping him choose songs and practice for the upcoming rounds. After a brief moment of suspense, Cole chose Levine.

Contestants often have friends and family backstage watching their performance. Cole’s parents, some of his bandmates, and his girlfriend, Rachel Krokenberger, were in attendance cheering him on.

Cole met Krokenberger on the Island, where they began dating. “The Vineyard summer does mysterious things to you,” Cole joked.

Cole told The Times he couldn’t say much about his next appearance on the show, but that he was putting in lots of practice for the battle rounds.

Win or lose, Cole says he still plans to visit the Vineyard this summer. A self-described “Oak Bluffs guy,” Cole loves to eat at Nancy’s, Skinny’s Fat Sandwiches, and Sand Bar. The beach is also on his mind, driving out to Norton Point being his favorite summer pastime.

While Cole said he will definitely catch a flight back to the Island sometime this summer, it seems for now he is ready to fight.

@drewcolemusic is on Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Cole will appear on “The Voice” battle rounds next week on NBC.