It was the last thing Nicholas Mrozinski expected to happen at 1:15 a.m. in the middle-of-nowhere, Wisconsin.
Mrozinski, a St. Paul resident and recent contestant on NBC's "The Voice", was parked at a gas station with his band when another customer recognized him, and asked whether he was indeed the same person who appeared on national television.
Those celebrity moments are becoming more and more the norm for Mrozinski, a longtime musician with an established presence in the Twin Cities area.
Mrozinski was catapulted into the national eye last week when he made his debut appearance on "The Voice", a reality singing competition judged by a host of celebrities. The judges, which include Christina Aguilera, Adam Levine, Cee Lo Green and Blake Shelton, pick contestants to coach throughout the season. The competitors eventually battle against one another as each vies for the grand prize: a recording contract.
"I've been having people ask me to take pictures with them," said Mrozinski, who grew up in Eagan. "It's crazy, it's so much joy."
Mrozinski's appearance on the show was the culmination of several auditions and callbacks that began when he submitted a performance video to NBC on the suggestion of a friend. After traveling to Chicago for an audition and painstakingly studying footage from previous seasons, he was given an executive callback by the show producers.
At a televised blind audition in front of the celebrity judges, Mrozinski sang a rendition of Ben E. King's "Stand By Me"—a song he chose for its message and recognizability. But Mrozinski, an alternative soul singer, put his own spin on the song. His spirit clicked with Cee Lo Green, who decided to work with the singer just seconds into Mrozinski's performance.
Click here to watch Mrozinski's performance on NBC.
"I was trying just to hold my breath, because if I would have let it go I would have been a wreck," Mrozinski said.
The televised blind audition may have been a "surreal" experience, Mrozinski said, but the outcome couldn't have been better. Of all the celebrity coaches, Mrozinski preferred Cee Lo because of the artist's rawness and playfulness, he said.
"I just think again that he has so many kinds of genres, styles of music under one thing," Mrozinski said. "You gravitate toward certain things and I just thought of all those amazing people, he was the one I was magnetized to the most."
Because of NBC restrictions, Mrozinski is unable to talk about the outcome of the taped segments of the show, which have already concluded. The show's outcome will be decided following a series of live performances aired on NBC.
Mrozinski said his appearance on "The Voice" has boosted his visibility and helped him develop as a musician.
Watching the blind audition when it aired on TV on Sept. 17—and the whirlwind of phone calls, fan emails and burgeoning fame that followed—was like waking up on Christmas Day as a child, Mrozinski said.
"All of the energy, I couldn't sleep," Mrozinski said, laughing. "I wanted to wake up early to see what Santa brought."
And while the excitement has been intense for Mrozinski, it's his two young children and wife who are truly at the center of his thoughts.
"They've been the strength and the rope that I pull myself along with," Mrozinski said. "They've been the motivation for all of it."
Correction: This article has been changed to correct an inaccuracy. Although segments of NBC's "The Voice" were filmed in advance, the outcome of the season will conclude following live performances and audience polling.