Interview with 'The Voice' winner Jordan Smith: Center Stage June 12 (moved from City Winery)

By RODNEY HO/, originally filed Friday, June 10, 2016

The biggest complaint about "The Voice" is how it has struggled to generate stars. Season 9 winner Jordan Smith is possibly the show's greatest hope.

Sure, he doesn't "look" the part. But he brings power, faith and grace to his performances. And viewers connected, buying his downloads at unprecedented rates last fall. His victory was ultimately not a surprise to anybody. Subsequently, his new album "Something Beautiful" debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard album charts, selling 54,000 copies opening week, more than any previous 'Voice" winner.

He recently started his own headlining tour, which includes a stop at Center Stage in Midtown on Sunday. (It was originally set at the City Winery at the Ponce de Leon Market but the venue was not ready in time.) You can buy tickets here.

Smith, who attends Lee University in Cleveland, Tenn., loved "The Voice" the moment it debuted in 2011. He auditioned in 2014 but didn't get very far. Then last year, a recruiter called after seeing some of his work on YouTube and encouraged him to try out with no knowledge he had already done so.

Interestingly, he chose the same song for his initial audition: "Halo" by Beyonce, despite the fact it didn't get him very far the first time. He felt he was singing it better than ever with another year of experience under his belt. And he was right. He made it through the audition process to the show itself.

At first, Smith said it was a little intimidating going on "The Voice" stage, but he quickly became comfortable in the spotlight.

"It's definitely the highest definition of multi-tasking," he said. "You are thinking of everything. The music, the words, the stage direction, the audience, what you're wearing. And you're standing in front of four superstar coaches. So it could be very easy to get nervous. But I was so happy to be there. It was such a dream come true. It was less about winning and more about enjoying the moments. I was really excited and happy. I understood how fortunate I was to be in that position."

And he said he was in such a bubble on "The Voice," he was able to tune out all the talk about him being the favorite.

"I never saw myself as the front runner," Smith said. "I always felt I was fighting for my life."

But he wasn't blind to download sales. Twice, he bumped Adele's "Hello' off the top of the iTunes sales chart for a spell: "It was so crazy for that to happen. It shows how involved people were getting."

He also embraced the way "The Voice" told his story.

"So many fans were not just encouraged by my music but my story," he said. The producers "were adamant in telling our stories in the best way possible."

Smith said he recorded his album in less than a month, working with top-notch producers such as David Foster. Despite the tight window, he said "it came out in a very organic way." He released his first post-"Voice" single "Stand in the Light" and did a quick promotional tour, performing on "The People's Choice Awards," "The Tavis Smiley Show" and "The Steve Harvey Show."

And now he's on his first serious tour with a band and a one-hour set, mixing covers of songs by the likes of  OneRepublic, Sia, Sam Smith and Queen plus  a few originals.

Here's what he performed on June 8 in Wilmington, DE:

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And he's not worried about his voice giving out.

"I studied music in college for three years," Smith noted. "I have three years of classical vocal training under my belt. I have learned proper technique and ways to take care of my voice and properly maintain good vocal health. I've been singing almost every single day for a long period of time. I have a good team to gauge when it's best for me to shut up and be quiet. For me, that isn't easy. I love to talk and sing. I'm learning to balance it all. I want to be performing for years to come. I don't want to do something as silly as push myself too hard."


Jordan Smith

8 p.m. Sunday, June 12, 2016


Center Stage

1374 West Peachtree St. NW, Atlanta

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