This was posted on Monday, March 13, 2017 by Rodney Ho on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
It's rare for a "Voice" season to go by without a person with strong Atlanta ties involved.
The first singer from our area aired last Monday night, the fourth night of blind auditions for the show's sixth season. Atlanta native and former Flowery Branch resident Taylor Alexander gave a 1999 comeback Cher dance hit "Believe" and turned it into a Randy Travis-style country tune.
Once Adam Levine figured out who he was covering, he pressed his button. He was the only judge to take Alexander so there was not debate over who would be his coach.
"That was the single craziest thing I've ever heard like way before I was supposed to," he said. "You are so weird and wonderful. What was that?"
Alexander, 25, said he moved to Nashville three years to break into the business. He had actually been covering that Cher song in that style for years. "Nobody would think to turn that country," he said. He felt it would stand out and it worked.
Born in Atlanta, Alexander grew up listening to a lot of Garth Brooks and Eagles. His parents recall at age two watching him emulate a fiddle lick to Brooks' "Callin' Baton Rouge." His dad was an operatic tenor and music minister so Andrea Bocelli was a regular audio fixture in his home.
As a teen, he went through a punk music phase after watching skateboarding videos and even was in a punk band. While in Flowery Branch High School, he fell in love with Dashboard Confessional, "acoustic music with a punk sensibility." He began writing his own songs and started tracing back to old time country artists such as Hank Williams and Johnny Cash as well as rock legends such as Bob Dylan. He formed a band Young America .
They played the Masquerade, Vinyl and Eddie's Attic. In January, 2014, he moved to Nashville. "Everyone was super open and wanted to help me out," he said. He did open mic nights and worked at a place called The Building.
He said he's been a fan of Maroon 5 since its early days. "It was one of those guilty pleasures while I was in my punk phase," he said. He didn't realize at first while performing "Believe" that Levine had turned his chair since he was focused on performing for the audience, not the backs of chairs. "I was shocked," he said. "I hadn't even begun the chorus." If anything, it relieved him of stress the rest of his performance.
For the battle rounds, he's keeping his approach simple: "Practice really hard. Show up and be ready to go and give it all I got and put on a really good show."
The unmarried singer said he will stick with a traditional country approach and believes in this day and age of pop and rock-oriented country music, there's still a place for a fiddle and some old-time singin'.
The sixth episode of blind auditions air Monday night on NBC.
A few metro Atlantans to date have made the top 10 over the first 11 seasons, but nobody has made it to the final episode, much less win the entire competition. Zach Seabaugh season 9 in 2015 fell one week short of the finals and so did Aaron Gibson season 11 last fall.
Here's the studio version of his cover of "Believe":
Here is an original:
"The Voice," 8 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, NBC