For any artist, seasoned or just beginning, the chance to stand on a stage such as NBC's The Voice is an extremely valuable opportunity. Given the potential of sharing their talent and heart with millions of viewers around the world, contestants walk into the competition ready to showcase their unique artistry.
Fortunately for Christian music fans, several of those artists over the last 14 seasons of the show have channeled their creativity into Christian music, some with moving renditions of classic hymns (like Jordan Smith's "Great Is Thy Faithfulness") and others with powerful covers of well-known tracks (see Christian Cuevas' take on Israel Houghton's "To Worship You I Live," Chris Blue tackling Tamela Mann's "Take Me To The King" and Aliyah Moulden's graceful performance of MercyMe's "I Can Only Imagine").
Some artists even come off the show and pursue a career in Christian music. Inspired by one such artist, Season 8 finalist Koryn Hawthorne, who is gearing up for the release of her debut self-titled EP, we're taking a look at six of our favorite Voices who rocked their time on the show and then carried that passion into the CCM industry.
Jason Wilkes (Wilkes)
Turning two chairs in this season of The Voice, former High Flight Society and Disciple member Jason Wilkes impressed coaches with his Blind Audition of The Wallflowers' "One Headlight." In addition to his roles with the aforementioned rock groups, Wilkes has played for country artist Sam Hunt and has continued his journey as a songwriter/solo artist since leaving Disciple in 2015. Currently holding a coveted spot on Team Blake (Shelton), you can catch Wilkes on The Voice this season.
Also featured on this season of The Voice is former Gotee solo artist Stephanie Smith (now Skipper). Fans may additionally recognize Stephanie from her side project Copperlily or from lending her voice to husband Tim Skipper and band House of Heroes. After an emotional performance of coach Kelly Clarkson's hauntingly personal "Piece By Piece," Skipper received two last-second chair turns from coaches Blake Shelton and Adam Levine (Maroon 5) before eventually choosing Adam as her coach. The Blind Audition seemed to connect strongly with watchers, as the video is already nearing two and a half million YouTube views.
Making it all the way to a fourth place finish in the eighth season, Koryn Hawthorne wowed audiences with her powerhouse vocals and inspiring resilience. Among many of her incredible performances while on the show, Koryn belted out the classic hymn "How Great Thou Art" to secure her spot on coach Pharrell Williams' team. Now readying for the release of her self-titled debut EP on Aug. 4, Koryn has released her first single "Won't He Do It" on RCA Inspiration. A soulful vocalist already using her gifts to sing of God's goodness, Koryn is ready to take on the Gospel world this year.
I don't think it was possible to watch Season 9 of The Voice and not be absolutely blown away by Jordan Smith's breathtaking, stratospheric vocals. With performance after performance, he left the judges and crowd in awe as he tackled difficult songs with ease. Whether it was a piano-driven take on a hymn ("Great Is Thy Faithfulness"), an emotional rendition of a Christmas favorite ("Mary Did You Know") or a stylistically simple yet wildly powerful version of a hit ("Hallelujah"), Jordan gave his all in every performance which made him a quick fan-favorite and eventually led to him winning that season. His debut project, Something Beautiful, released soon after the show and sent him to even further success with impactful single "Stand In The Light."
After 12 years as the frontman for mainstream rock band Melee, singer Chris Cron took a step back to focus on his family, but soon ended up returning to the industry behind the scenes, working as a songwriter and producer for several CCM artists. Then Season 11 of The Voice changed everything for the rocker. Though he didn't make it past the blind auditions on the show with his version of INXS's "Never Tear Us Apart," the experience was enough to convince Chris that his time as a performer wasn't over after all and send him back into the studio. Check out last month's release "In It To Win It" below and click here to read more about Chris' revived musical journey.
In another turn of events where a truly phenomenal voice, unfortunately, didn't make it past the Blind Auditions, pop artist David Dunn appeared on Season 2 of the show. The engineering major switched gears after college, deciding music was where he wanted to land instead, and hasn't slowed down since. Though it was discouraging to not make it farther on The Voice, David hasn't allowed that to stop him from pursuing a flourishing career. His label debut album Crystal Clear released in early 2015 with major success at radio with singles "Today Is Beautiful" and "Have Everything." Flash forward to present day and David just released his follow-up album Yellow Balloons, again scoring at radio with catchy single "I Wanna Go Back."
This one's a little different, because the artist in question was fairly well established in the industry before his national television stint. After five studio releases, gospel artist Anthony Evans headed towards The Voice. A contestant on Season 2, Evans made it as far as the Battle Rounds with Christina Aguilera's team before leaving the show. Just about two years after his time on The Voice, Anthony released his sixth studio album, Real Life/Real Worship. The album proved to be a success, catapulting Evans to No. 2 on the Top Gospel Albums chart and paving the way for his highly-anticipated follow-up, this year's Back To Life.
Before his performance of "Everybody Wants To Rule The World" on The Voice's Season 7 Blind Auditions, Andy Cherry shared openly on the show about his time in Christian music and the discouragement that followed being dropped from his record label soon after his first release, Nothing Left To Fear. CCM fans may recognize Andy from 2012's radio friendly single "Our God's Alive" and were cheering him on as he appeared on the show. Much to their disappointment, Andy didn't make it past the Blinds, but did return to the industry to release a single independent EP, City Of Light, early in 2014.
Preston Pohl (Storyside:B)
After a tragic end to Storyside:B in 2009, guitarist Preston Pohl found his way to The Voice stage in 2013. With his rendition of "Electric Feel," Pohl turned three chairs and made it through to the Live Playoffs with coach Adam Levine before being eliminated early on in the season, much to the dismay of viewers. Pohl persisted with his musical journey though, releasing his debut EP the following year.
Caitlin Lassiter is a North Carolina girl that loves Jesus, music, concerts, writing, C.S. Lewis, and sweet tea... She's also a worship leader dreaming of traveling the world to share God's love.
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