Erica Sutherland grew up listening to New Kids on the Block, but she never could have guessed that she’d one day sing a duet with one of the group’s members in front of thousands of people, let alone be doing it on a cruise ship.
As far-fetched as the scenario sounds, that’s exactly what happened on June 8 aboard Carnival Cruise’s Splendor, which hosted the 2014 edition of the NKOTB Cruise from June 5-9 and included all five Boston-bred New Kids: Donnie, Danny, Jordan, Jonathan, and Joey.
The ship sailed from New York to Bermuda, where it docked for a day, before turning around for the Big Apple. The trip will be the focus of a TV Guide Channel eight-episode series titled, "Rock This Boat: NKOTB.”
We caught up with Sutherland via e-mail after she got back to her current residence in Jamaica Plain (she’s from the Cape and has roots in Providence as well) and got the details on the performance.
Q: How did the duet come about on the ship?
A: “My cousin Karen Mikulas, who lives in Plano, Texas, is a self-proclaimed “Blockhead.” She bought me a ticket to go with her on the cruise as sort of a graduation present (I just graduated from Mass Art),” Sutherland said.
“Basically, Joe asks for video submissions and then chooses a few people to sing with him. My cousin encouraged me to enter, and I thought it’d be fun. I played guitar and sang “Dream” by the Everly Brothers for my video.”
Q: Are you a big New Kids fan?
A: My cousin was a teenager right around the time the New Kids hit the scene. She has always been a big influence in my life, so NKOTB has been on my radar for a long time. I love 80’s and early 90’s pop music, and my “Hangin’ Tough” cassette has gotten a lot of play over the years.
Q: What was the experience like singing with Joey? Were you nervous?
A: Singing with Joey was great! The song he chose had a lot of harmonies, so that was fun for me. I love singing harmonies, and Joe has an amazing voice. I was pretty nervous when I met him and Rob Lewis (his musical director) backstage for our first practice (a few days before the duet), but then again, I’m usually pretty nervous when I sing or play music in front of anyone...I think at this point, I’m getting used to that feeling, so hopefully it doesn’t show as much as I think it does. I was definitely a little more nervous than usual, though.
“I’ve been listening to NKOTB for basically my entire life and I never thought I’d be singing with Joey McIntyre in front of thousands of people on a cruise ship. The whole thing was pretty surreal. A bunch of people came up to me afterwards and told me that our performance made them cry.
“The song we sang (“Say Something” by A Great Big World & Christina Aguilera) is a pretty emotional song about how hard it is to have to give up on someone that you love, and I think a lot of people can relate to that feeling. Overall, it was great experience. I think one of the reasons NKOTB is doing so well is because their fan base is so strong, and they make a genuine effort to spend time with and get to know their fans. It was cool to be able to talk to Joey about music. He grew up in Jamaica Plain, so he knew of some of the places that my band has played at. “
Q: What’s your band Littlefoot all about?
A: Littlefoot has been my main music project for the past few years. I sing and play guitar (and sometimes keyboard). I do the majority of the songwriting, and also collaborate with my guitar player Derek Knox. Ashley Guerrero plays drums, and Judy Chong sings back-up vocals and plays bass. The songs are largely influenced by 50’s and 60’s oldies and surf music. Our debut album, titled “Night of the Living Dreams,” will be released this summer on Boston-based label BUFU Records.
For more information on Sutherland and the band, check out Littlefoot’s Facebook page.