Radio and TV Talk

Rodney Ho covers TV and radio, from Atlanta’s stations to the hottest “American Idol" news.

Wilkes from Cherokee County advances to knockout rounds on 'The Voice'

Posted Tuesday, March 27, 2018 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Jason Wilkes, the lone Atlantan who made it to the Battle Rounds on "The Voice" season 14, made it to the Knockout Rounds Monday night for Blake Shelton's team.

It sure helped that Blake chose a Chris Stapleton song "Nobody to Blame." That is right in Wilkes' wheelhouse, Shelton noted, given its rock feel.

Country legend Trace Adkins helped out Blake. "Wilkes has been doing this for awhile and he has that confidence," he said, noting his conversational feel. Shelton warns him not to be complacent.

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Their combined performance is rock solid. Both bring gobs of verve and a slab of bacon. While Wilkes has the experience edge, Jordan doesn't make it an easy choice for Blake.

Kelly Clarkson to Wilkes: "You are way more low key... You have that kind of cool vibe." She has a hard time choosing who to win. "I'm so excited and you're not even on my team!"

Alicia Keys: "Jordan--your voice was more pure. Wilkes was more husky and raw. I gravitate toward that."

Adam loves Wilkes' presence but lawds Jordan's vocals.

Blake was happy with both of his team members but he ultimately chose Wilkes for his "rough around the edges" feel.

I spoke with Wilkes before the battle rounds aired. He loves living in the small town of Waleska in Cherokee County, which has a population of less than 1,000. He has been a life-long musician who was part of a Christian rock band High Flight Society for 12 years. They had moderate but not breakthrough success. When Wilkes was 28, the drummer in the band died and they disbanded.

At the time, his daughter Lindley (now 8) was super young. He decided to "plug in as a dad 24/7. I did that a couple of years." (His wife owns a hair salon in Canton and paid the bills during that time.)

He has spent his past few years as a songwriter, traveling regularly to Nashville. With "The Voice," he decided to try going solo for the first time and dropped his first name, calling himself just Wilkes because it sounds cooler.

"The Voice" found him online and contacted him to try out. The producers chose "One Headlight" by the Wallflowers for his blind audition. He was fine with it. And given his experience on stage, the "Voice" stage wasn't that odd for him, especially since there was a super responsive live audience.

He didn't feel too much pressure and was actually at a point near the end of the song that he had accepted nobody would turn their chairs. But in the final seconds, both Blake and Adam pressed their buttons. He chose Blake because he could help him more in the country world although he says he tends to write songs with a more pop-rock edge: "My lyrics sound like country songs, but my songs sound like the Killers."

Wilkes says he considers himself "laid back, almost painfully introverted at times" off camera. But on stage, "when I got into artist mode or in front of a camera, it's like flipping a switch."

About the Author

Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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