Anthony Riley recently made The Voice history in more ways than one. During Blind Auditions, he earned the show’s fastest ever four-chair-turnaround. Also, his abrupt departure prompted the first ever three-way Knockout Round last Monday.
As reported by the Inquisitr, on Monday’s episode, Pharrell Willimas notified Mia Z, Paul Pfau, and Sawyer Fredericks that they would all be battling against each other due to Anthony Riley leaving for “personal reasons.” No one would comment any further on details surrounding his situation. Riley also kept quiet, until now.
Following his departure, rumors immediately began to circulate. One speculation behind his unexplained absence was his fear of facing powerhouse Mia Z. Another was that it was politically fueled by a controversial tweet referring to prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal. These rumors were quickly shot down by sources close to Riley and the show. Wanting to offer further clarification, Riley has bravely come forward with his real reason for cutting his Voice dream short. He opened up to Philly.com, saying he had to leave due to a substance abuse problem and a two-week stay in rehab.
He explained that while The Voice producers made sure contestants knew what they were going to face during the show, he found the long, lonely days very challenging. After discussing his substance-abuse issue with producers, NBC flew Riley back to Philadelphia so he could enter a drug and alcohol rehab program.
“The Voice has been a really great source of support. At the time, [being on the show] wasn’t working for me and I felt like I needed to go, instead of taking on more responsibility than I could handle.”
He also directly confronted the rumors. Riley said while Mia Z is “quite literally one of the best singers I’ve heard in my life,” he was not afraid to go head-to-head with her.
Instead, he stated, “If anything, it would be an honor to go up against her.”
He also denied sending the Mumia Abu-Jamal tweet.
“I don’t think entertainment and politics should intersect. I literally want my fans to get to know me through my music before we delve into political associations and affiliations.”
Riley’s former assistant, Christopher Mapp, took responsibility for sending the tweet. He said it was a cause he supported, and he meant no harm.
As suspected, Anthony Riley’s career is certainly not over. While he said for now, “The Voice is over for me,” he is moving forward with music but is also making his health a priority while he continues treatment. Perhaps his music will serve as a healing tool, as he plans to tell his story through writing his first album. He hopes to inspire others by sharing his personal experience.
“One of the reasons I’m proud of being of a Philadelphian is that we all have our own struggle, no matter what you do, no matter how far down you go, you can always make a comeback. I just hope someone hears this message. It’s not worth pursuing anything other than your dreams.”
In the end, we see that The Voice handled this sensitive situation the best they could while still protecting Riley’s privacy. Also, while Anthony Riley didn’t owe the public an explanation, it is commendable that he was honest with his fans about his struggles. He recognized he needed to get help and accepted assistance to do so. For now, he is facing his own personal Battle Round that has suddenly become very public. Hopefully, he is on the road to recovery, and his fans can look forward to even more powerful music in the future.
[Image by Tyler Golden/NBC]