Belmont student Jeff Jenkins and alumnus Josh Johnson have both advanced from the blind auditions on NBC’s new highly rated reality competition, “The Voice.”
Hosted by Carson Daly, “The Voice” features four celebrity coaches: Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, Maroon 5’s Adam Levine and Blake Shelton. Each coach chooses eight singers to mentor during the blind auditions, where the judges cannot see the contestants. If a judge likes the contestant’s voice, he or she pushes a button to select the singer. If more than one coach presses the button, the contestant gets to choose their mentor.
Jenkins, a communication studies major and music business minor, is currently enrolled as a senior at Belmont, and he was the first contestant to be selected by all four judges. He decided to compete on Levine’s team. His audition song, “Bless the Broken Road” (Rascal Flatts, Selah), has broken into the Top 200 singles on iTunes. Furthermore, Jenkins has broken into the Top 30 Country Songs on iTunes. Despite competing on the show, Jenkins was in Nashville last week for advising. Dr. Mary Vaughn, chair of the communication studies department, said, “Jeff has such a big heart and loads of talent. He has wanted an opportunity like this for as long as I’ve known him, and I couldn’t be more pleased for him!”
Jenkins wrote on “The Voice” blog, “The blind audition was not only nerve-racking for me because of the fact that I was about to be singing in front of four of the most prominent figures in music, but it was also going to be the first time I performed since my mother passed away. I knew once I stepped on that stage that this performance was a little different.”
Alumnus Josh Johnson, competing with his wife Nicole as part of the duo Elenowen, performed “Falling Slowly,” the Academy Award-winning song from the film Once. Johnson, an Entertainment Industry Studies major, graduated from Belmont in 2010. Since their television debut, Elenowen’s 2010 debut album, Pulling Back the Veil, has cracked the Top 5 Top Singer-Songwriter Albums chart on iTunes. Elenowen was selected by celebrity judges Cee Lo Green and Blake Shelton, and they chose to join Shelton’s team.
During Round 2 of the competition, which begins next week, the judges cut their teams from eight to four singers. Starting in June, the Top 16 contestants start performing live, and viewers will vote for their favorites. The winner receives $100,000 and a recording contract with Universal Republic.