“I thought, ‘Wait a second, did I win?'” Smith says, recalling watching his knockout round matchup with Viktor Király with his family and friends in Harlan County.
It was the Lee University senior’s second consecutive matchup with an established professional singer, following his battle round with Atlanta-based gospel singer Regina Love.
“I was very humbled to be considered to go up against Regina and Viktor,” Smith says. That he competed and won both rounds told Smith that, “Just by being myself, my coach saw that was enough. (Coach Adam Levine) just wanted me.”
A couple months of recorded competition behind him, Smith is now back in Los Angeles preparing for live competition on The Voice, which begins on Monday night on NBC. According to NBC publicists, Smith and all other remaining artists will perform Monday or Tuesday, and viewers will finally be able to vote for two people from each team to move on. The coach will also get to pick one remaining singer to retain in the results show on Wednesday.
“It’s a really similar process to the work that went into the other rounds,” Smith says of preparing for the upcoming live rounds. “It’s just expedited.”
He says the days are long with rehearsals, coachings, filming things like interviews, and wardrobe fittings. But it’s all a lot of fun and what he wants to do. For example, he got to spend part of his 22nd birthday recording his latest song for iTunes, which he says is one of his favorite things to do, and then he went to dinner with new friends on the show.
Now what that song is will be a secret until he takes the stage this week. But the trio of iconic singers he covered to get to the live rounds did not register with him until after the competition. His hit parade was Sia’s Chandelier, Sam Smith’s Like I Can, and Adele’s Set Fire to the Rain.
“I didn’t understand the risk I was taking at the time,” Smith says. “I’ve tackled these songs that are almost legendary. Each singer has a signature sound and is held to a high standard.”
But, Smith adds he, “didn’t feel I had anything to prove by singing these songs.”
He was thankful his knockout round was shown early so he could watch it with family and friends, and says proper goodbyes to everyone before he left last Saturday. Some competitors had to disappear before their rounds were shown, he notes.
But now, after months of keeping secrets, Smith will find out results along with the rest of us. And he enters the live competition confident, but ready for anything.
“I do feel confident I will be able to perform to the best of my ability,” Smith says. “Each time I have wanted to show America it’s OK to be yourself, and hopefully that will come through.
“It’s all about inspiring people and making good music … that people want to experience.”