Alex Guthrie, a Marietta singer songwriter with a soulful mien, has made it into the live shows of "The Voice."
He is now part of a top 20 of season 17, but during the knockout round, he actually lost his spot on Kelly Clarkson's team. She opted to take teen duo Hello Sunday over him.
But rival coach John Legend had an opening to steal and nabbed Guthrie for his current team of five.
In a phone interview from “The Voice” studios in Hollywood Wednesday, Guthrie said he was glad to have the R&B singer ready to scoop him up.
“Hello Sunday is incredibly talented, not just for their age but just talented,” he said. “I knew I had my work cut out for me. John was my safety net. This whole time John had been complimentary of my voice but felt I wasn’t giving enough of an emotional performance so I really put it out there.”
Legend did in fact embrace Guthrie's rendition of Sam Smith's "I'm Not the Only One."
Clarkson's guest coach was Taylor Swift and she told Guthrie that while he should could mess around with the verses a bit, he should stick with the chorus as recorded so viewers feel comfortable. There is a tricky balance between "making it your own" and karaoke.
Clarkson herself also helped Guthrie get comfortable without a guitar to hide behind. He readily admitted he still isn’t quite sure what to do with his hands.
“I’m working toward true comfort,” he said. “I used to feel like I needed a guitar to look normal on stage and comfortable. Kelly taught me how to command attention without it.”
Legend, he said, is no nonsense as a coach. “I love his songwriting,” he said. “I can immediately connect with whatever he is singing. I hope to do that with my own music.”
Guthrie first made a big impact on the world in 2017 as a street musician in an American Family Insurance ad where Jennifer Hudson (a past 'Voice" coach herself) surprises him and joins in on the song "Lovely Day" at Woodruff Park in downtown Atlanta. The ad became so ubiquitous, he said he was recognized all over the country.
And the day the ad debuted on TV on April 24, 2017 was the same day he also met his current girlfriend Jennifer Boner, an occupational therapist he said is a great singer herself. He recalls their drive to Colorado recently where they did a cool duet version of Cake's "The Distance."
Now the question is: can he make it far once the voters are involved?
The way the first live round will go is different from past years. Based on the MJ's Big Blog polling, Guthrie is ranked 16th out of 20. (UPDATE: After I posted this story, a Facebook fan page for Guthrie encouraged some voting for Guthrie, elevating him quickly to No. 1 though he slipped back later in the evening to No. 2 behind Cali Wilson.)
All 20 will perform on Monday, which means very short songs and not a lot of fat. America will vote and on Tuesday, the top 8 vote getters are automatically moving forward. Each judge then picks one to save from their teams. Of the final eight, the top remaining artist from each team will compete for a wild card and one will get the 13th spot.
Guthrie said he has a song to sing for Monday he hopes will honor the people who are important in his life.
He hopes to last as long as he can because he loves being around the other contestants.
“I’m having so much fun at adult summer camp around ll these wonderful people,” Guthrie said. “It’s going to be a change to go back to a normal life.”
Rodney Ho writes about entertainment for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution including TV, radio, film, comedy and all things in between. A native New Yorker, he has covered education at The Virginian-Pilot, small business for The Wall Street Journal and a host of beats at the AJC over 20-plus years. He loves tennis, pop culture & seeing live events.