Nicholas David: Of mind, spirit and 'The Voice'

CHRIS RIEMENSCHNEIDER | Updated 12/10/2012

Twin Cities singer Nicholas David (aka Nick the Feelin') remains well-grounded as he rockets to TV stardom.

Anyone watching NBC's "The Voice" -- and there are a lot of you this season -- knows he has a killer voice. Turns out Nicholas David Mrozinski also has an uncommonly upbeat attitude and calm, spiritual mind.

Those qualities might become equally crucial as the Twin Cities area's highest-profile TV talent contestant of the past decade enters "The Voice's" final weeks. They certainly helped the Eagan-reared singer, 32, get through a half-decade of hard-knocking his way around Twin Cities music venues, according to his friends and family.

"Anytime things were looking kind of hopeless, he'd say, 'Dude, relax, we're still planting seeds,'" longtime bandmate Dylan Nau recalled.

How true that proved to be. Mrozinski's run on "The Voice" continues Monday after he was voted one of the show's final four.

A few days before his latest victory, the bearded, bespectacled, slightly Cousin Itt-looking vocalist -- a clear benefactor of "The Voice's" blind-audition opening -- spoke at length by phone from Los Angeles. If there was any doubt he's not your average contestant, his talk of Buddha and sobriety and the joys of fatherhood all sounded as sincere as anything he has voiced on TV.

"If you had told me a year ago that I'd be on a show like this, I'd have laughed," said the deeply soulful vocalist, known simply as Nicholas David on "The Voice" and Nick "The Feelin'" Mrozinski in local circles (the Feelin' is also his band's name).

He's not laughing now, though: "I feel like I'm in the best music school I ever could've enrolled in." What's more, he added, "I do believe everything in my life has led me to where I am now."

Power of love

One pivotal point came at age 8, when he played piano for his grandfather on his deathbed. "Tell him to never stop playing," Grandpa said -- a story that both Nick and his mother have to fight back tears to tell.

"It deeply touched him, and I think it's something that's still with him when he performs," Jennifer Mrozinski said.

A three-sport jock in high school, Nick was impressed by how music brought together different cliques at Eagan High when he and his classmates performed in their parents' basements.

He skipped out on college plans and relocated to Colorado for a few years. On his return, he joined the White Iron Band, a popular country-rock group, on keyboards. Its rowdy shows were a little too wild for him.

"I wound up being the sober guy in the White Iron Band, which didn't really work out too well," he said with a laugh. "Still, those were some great times."

He quit and started his own band, a funky hippie-soul group that never reached White Iron's level of popularity but worked hard, bouncing around Minneapolis' West Bank from the Cabooze to the Nomad to Palmer's Bar, where it had a regular Sunday gig, along with a weekly set at the Happy Gnome in St. Paul.

"It's funny to think that just a year and a half ago, I was stressing about how to fill up the calendar and find work," he said. "Honestly, I just left it up to God and said, 'Your call.' Things just sort of fell into place."

The Feelin' mostly played original tunes and not the classic songs Nick has performed on "The Voice," such as Bill Withers' "Lean on Me" and Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" -- although it did do a version of Huey Lewis' less-than-classic "Power of Love," which Nick sang on TV.