It’s stupefying to believe that The Voice has been on for 10 years. NBC debuted its singing competition in spring 2011, and on Tuesday night, will crown the show’s 20th winner. The series has changed tremendously over that decade—including winning multiple Emmy Awards, going through plenty of superstar coaches, and introducing America to hundreds of artists.
But back then, when Javier Colon was named the very first Voice champion and no one had ever seen those big red chairs before, the series was groundbreaking; it shook up the reality TV format. It also had a community of wonderful people much greater than the competition. To mark the 10th anniversary, I’m taking a look back at The Voice with some of my favorite artists from across the seasons, and also sharing some of my favorite memories from the five years I spent covering the show.
Check out this interview with The Voice season 17 champion Jake Hoot. You can also click below to view any of the previous retrospectives:
Jake Hoot (season 17, 2019)
I was no longer involved with The Voice by the time Jake Hoot won season 17, so I don’t have any personal story I can share. But based on our conversation, he’s someone that I would have loved to share that journey with. He’s talented, yes, but also incredibly humble, warm, and engaging.
Jake was a member of Team Kelly during his season, and is known not only for winning, but for being one of only two people to go from one-chair turn in blind auditions to Voice champion. The other one is Chris Blue, and Chris had no choice but to get a one-chair turn (as he was the last person to audition during his season), so in practical terms Jake is the only person in The Voice history to start at the bottom and climb all the way to the top. This is what he had to say about that and other Voice-related stories.
Brittany Frederick: What do you remember most from your experience on The Voice?
Jake Hoot: The performances and stuff are so magical, because as far as for me—and I can speak for a lot of those people—we’ve never been part, much less the face, of huge productions like that. Not only all the stuff that goes into your performance, but the stuff where you’re in the hotel with all these people that are kind of on that same life’s goal road trip as you are, and you get to share some incredible memories; that’s the stuff that means the most to me outside of the performances.
BF: Your journey in particular was astounding, to go from almost not making the show to winning the season. What did that mean to you, to see the tables completely turn like that?
JH: I’m very, very grateful for all the people that watched and voted. I tell people all the time, I had my bag packed every week. I was just like, “There’s no way I’m making it past this.” And to be the only true one-chair turn to go on and win the thing, it’s incredibly special. One, that Kelly took a chance on me, and then two, that Kelly and then everybody else voting kept me in the thing, and continued to propel me after the show too, despite COVID and everything. It’s just been really special, to think that that many people are out there that care enough about what you’re doing and what products you’re putting out to support you the way they do. It’s just really cool.
BF: I was going to ask you if you ever had any idea that you were going to win The Voice. Did it ever start to become a possibility in your head?
JH: No, not at all. (laughs) I mean, I can remember riding over that day with Rose [Short], Katie [Kadan] and Ricky [Duran], and all of us four are sitting there going oh my gosh, what do you all think is going to happen? What do you think the finale is going to be like? And there was a moment when we pulled onto the set that all of us were like, “Oh, you’re going to win this thing. Oh, Ricky, you’ve got this. Oh, Katie, you’ve got this. Oh, Rose, you’ve got this. Oh, Jake, you’ve got this.” All of us were so encouraging of the other person.
We really had no guidance as to what was going to happen. And then, when Ricky and I were standing there as the final two, I can remember leaning over to him and saying, “Hey dude, you’ve got this. This is incredible.” And then they called my name and I was like, “What the heck?” I absolutely had no idea, but everything happens for a reason, as cliche as it is, and God’s been gracious throughout all of it.
BF: Coming in during one of the more recent seasons, you’re obviously aware that the show developed a reputation for favoring country artists. Being a country artist, even though you were on Team Kelly, did that seem accurate to you?
JH: I don’t necessarily believe that, and here’s the thing; before I was on the show, I watched it some. I had some favorite performers on it. I didn’t watch it religiously. Part of that was due to growing up in a different country and we didn’t even have TV or anything. But I will say that when I was on the show, being a contestant in it, I felt like it was very fair and very balanced. Even more so, I could tell how people were pulled toward almost like that pop feel. I feel like there were so many pop artists, so many outside of the genre of country. And then of course to win the thing, I was like, “What the heck?”
BF: You won The Voice in the fall of 2019, and then a few months later, the COVID-19 pandemic shuts down the live music industry. How did you continue your momentum from winning the show with that unexpected situation?
JH: I think it depends on the people that you surround yourself with. It was definitely a culture shock. I just had lunch a couple of days ago was with Todd Tilghman, the winner of season 18. Super great guy, and I felt worse for their season, because they got told halfway through, “Hey, by the way, you’re not going to get to perform in front of live audiences. And after the show is done, you really have nothing coming up afterwards.” Whereas for me, I got to do the whole live performance thing while I was on the show, and we had a ton of stuff booked and then it all kind of shut down.
But I think it’s all about being very persistent. You hear a lot of people that go through the shows and then they kind of die out. And [for] whatever reason that is, I don’t know. But what I do know is the time during COVID and everything has taught me that, “Hey, if you’re going to do anything, you can’t rely just on the momentum and the popularity that you gained from the show. You’re going to actually have to put in that work.” I think that this time really hammered that in. I’ve been very driven to be like, “Hey, I’m not going to just go off and disappear after the show. I’m actually going to make an impact and we’re going to work harder than anybody else out there.” So it really has made me double down and really get to work on everything.
But it’s been great; I got married during the pandemic. Music is coming back around. I got to do the duet with Kelly Clarkson [“I Would’ve Loved You”], which was incredible, but I am definitely ready for the world to open up now.
BF: How many people from The Voice season 17 are you still actively in touch with? Because it seems that those friendships persist for a great while after the show ends for most people.
JH: There’s quite a few of us. I had three or four people come out to our wedding. Here lately I’ve been hanging out with Todd a lot more than anybody else from my season. But we kind of formed a friendship, Alex Guthrie, Cali Wilson and Max Boyle. Shane [Q] just drove 18 hours to one of my shows and I got him up to sing, and then Matt [New], who was on Team Legend. He came out too.
We have a lot of different group texts. Not only texts, but also Instagram message things or whatever. So every once in a while we’ll all get on there and just check in. We’ve talked about different things, different ideas as far as getting everybody together for a reunion out at the hotel and restaurant where we were staying most of the time. And I mean, there’s just a lot of talk. There were so many good people.
BF: That seems to be the primary takeaway from The Voice. Not the results, or the ratings, but how the show creates this community among musical artists.
JH: I don’t know how they do it. Just here in Nashville, where I’m living now, I’ve been around people and I’m like, “You’re incredibly talented, but man, you are a jerk. I don’t know what your deal is.” But on The Voice there were people that were ten times that talented, and they were just the sweetest people. And you could look and say well, they’re maybe doing it for TV, but dealing with them afterwards, they’re still super kind, super chill, just very nice people.
And everybody shares each other’s stuff—any kind of project that comes out, everybody’s sharing each other’s things. That’s pretty rare. That doesn’t happen everywhere.
You can follow Jake on his website, JakeHoot.com. His debut EP Love Out of Time is now available on all platforms including Apple Music. You can also support him on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
The Voice airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT on NBC. The season 20 finale airs this Tuesday, May 25, and the series will return for season 21 in spring 2022.
Article content is (c)2020-2021 Brittany Frederick and may not be excerpted or reproduced without express written permission by the author. Follow me on Twitter at @BFTVTwtr, on Instagram at @BFTVGram.