Originally posted Wednesday, April 10, 2019 by RODNEY HOfirstname.lastname@example.org on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
Andrew Jannakos of Flowery Branch had never performed a solo gig before an audience until he stepped on the NBC “The Voice” stage before John Legend, Blake Shelton, Adam Levine and Kelly Clarkson and 12 million viewers last month.
To say he was nervous was an understatement.
“I was freakin’ terrified,” Jannakos said in a phone interview Wednesday. “I thought I was going to faint.”
He didn’t. He covered one of his favorite country tunes, Luke Combs’ “Beautiful Crazy” without a glitch.
It was near the end of the audition rounds. Country star Blake had already filled his team. But Kelly and Adam pressed their big red buttons partway through.
That’s when Andrew’s head filled with even more anxiety, he said. “I though, ‘Oh s***! This is real life! This is happening!’ It scared the heck out of me.”
Fortunately, he said, he had learned enough about his own voice to control it even when his nerves were trying to take over: “I just used my vibrato to take away any shakiness in my voice.”
After he was finished, Kelly pitched Andrew by saying she has a track record of success with country artists. “I love the fact your voice sounds almost old school country,” she said on air during the March 18 episode. “Then I turned around, ‘What’ sup new school country!’ I love the juxtaposition of it... I love the fact I have a chance in hell with a male country artist... I’d love to have you.’
Adam then threw out his opinion: ”I love your presence. Your voice is a genuine rich, deep, beautiful voice. It doesn’t sound affected at all. That’s a beautiful thing to have as a country singer.” He noted that he has no country singers on his team. “I have the ability to my ears is something is truly great. I think you’re truly great whatever your genre.”
Andrew chose Adam despite Kelly’s begging.
“I love Kelly Clarkson but Adam gave me a different vibe,” Andrew explained. “Because I know country music so well, why not learn new music and step out of my genre. He is so loved and respected in pop. Why not learn that?”
Adam, while coaching Andrew, gave him tips on how to make his own falsetto and upper range better. And as the only country guy on Adam’s team, Andrew wants to be the first country singer to win “The Voice” for Team Adam over 16 seasons.
Adam, for the battle round, paired Andrew up with Patrick McAloon, who has been touring for many years and has oodles more experience. It was clear that Andrew came in as the under dog.
But against Patrick on Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’,” Andrew held his own despite his clear lack of experience on stage. Their harmonies blended and Andrew was able to show off his multiple-octave range.
“I got lucky,” Andrew said. “ ‘Free Fallin’’ was the first song I ever played on a guitar.” Plus, he and Patrick bonded while rehearsing. “The connection we made was incredible,” he said. “I could call him any time for advice.”
Kelly told Andrew that she liked him even more during this performance than his blind audition. Blake and John were both impressed by his high end. They also said nice things about Patrick.
“You guy are both amazing,” Adam said. “Patrick you’re seasoned. You’ve been doing this awhile. You have a great voice, a unique voice. That’s why three of us turned around. Here comes Andrew. I thought you had potential but this was a revelation of sorts because with your baritone, it was astonishing to see you nail those upper high notes in that super iconic song. Both of you really really stepped up and impressed me.”
But Andrew won and will move to the live cross battles.
“I have even more range than that,” Andrew noted.
Andrew grew up on old country and his grandfather played in a bluegrass band. “He gave me my first guitar,” he said. “But I don’t dress like I sing country music. When I start to sing, people say, ‘What?’”
Andrew said he used to wear boots, jeans and a Wal-Mart T-shirt. But two years ago, his best friend Keltin DeVoe convinced him to jazz his wardrobe up. “It’s more street wear,” he said. “I think I look pretty dope now.”
Although he didn’t really perform in public, he regularly posted videos showing off his vocal skills on Instagram and “The Voice” noticed. They asked him to audition last year. (He auditioned season nine but got nowhere.)
Andrew said his current fiancé Katie and her three-year-old son Brenson lit the fire under him to focus more on music.
“I just want him to grow up and be proud of me,” Andrew said. “If he knows I can chase my dreams, he’ll be able to do so as well. He doesn’t need to be afraid or hold back to go after what he truly loves.”
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