“I’m excited to get back to my home that has supported me so faithfully,” newest The Voice winner Jordan Smith said of Harlan.
Jordan Smith not only is looking forward to getting home, he also has a new recording contract, new performing opportunities, a new car and a fat check to look forward to also.
— Entertainment Weekly (@EW) December 16, 2015
But Friday afternoon, his only thoughts were to go home to Harlan County.
Jordan Smith performed at the live finale. “It’s going to be very special to get to my little house nestled in the mountains,” Smith said about returning to his parents’ home in the Harlan community of Coldiron.
Harlan is just as excited to have Jordan Smith back as he is to be going home. Monday afternoon, the town of Harlan will have a parade to celebrate Smith’s success followed by a program at the Harlan Center, which is the location that Smith’s hometown fans gathered to watch him perform on The Voice.
“He represented Harlan County and Kentucky extremely well,” Harlan County Judge Executive Dan Mosley said Tuesday, a few hours before Smith won the top-rated NBC talent competition. “Eastern Kentucky has been in a bad situation as a result of the economy, and this has given them hope.”
Smith finished on The Voice after six performances on Monday and Tuesday nights. He performed a group performance of Journey’s Any Way You Want It with some of his fellow competitors and also performed a rendition of the contemporary Christian music classic Mary, Did You Know? Mary, Did You Know is Smith’s second song to top the iTunes song chart.
Jordan Smith’s coach, Adam Levine said he had another song chosen for Smith, but when they chose Mary, Did You Know, they deferred it to another competitor and he said the Mary song was the right choice.
— Entertainment Weekly (@EW) December 20, 2015
“He wanted me to do I’ll Be Home for Christmas, which was on a list of songs I had submitted that I wanted to do on the show,” Smith said. “And I love that song. But as things progressed, I knew this was going to be one of the last times I sang on the show, and this is what I really wanted to do. He trusted me on that, which I really appreciated it.”
Mary, Did You Know was a huge statement from Smith, whose musical roots are in the church. Smith is currently a senior at Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee, which is affiliated with the Church of God.
Smith’s other favorite song choice was a performance of the hymn, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” with Smith playing the piano.”Great Is Thy Faithfulness” was Levine’s idea, and it got a huge response online and on iTunes.
“I had put it on my list, because I wanted to submit a hymn,” Smith said. “But I hadn’t really thought about it. Then he suggested it and suggested the really stripped down performance of it. I really appreciated that he wanted me to have that chance to express who I am.”
The song that challenged Smith the most, but turned out to be his biggest hit was “Somebody To Love” by Queen. It turned out to be Smith’s first No. 1 on iTunes. Smith said the song pushed him as a performer, something he has just recently considered himself to be.
“I always considered myself to be a singer, but not necessarily a performer,” Smith said. “I’ve learned in the last few months that being a performer is where I want to focus.”
Jordan Smith has a recording contract with Republic Records which has a roster that includes The Weekend and Lorde, but the company has also been accused of underserving The Voice winners.
“Now is when the work starts, to dig in and keep the momentum going, move forward and make the most of this opportunity,” Smith says.
An album of Smith’s top performances on The Voice has been released on iTunes, and most of the songs have already hit the top 10 list. A CD of the performances will be released to Wal-Mart stores on Christmas Eve. Smith says he plans to record in Los Angeles early next year.
Smith flew home on Friday through Knoxville’s McGhee Tyson Airport and coincidentally, runner-up, Emily Ann Roberts used the same airport.
“It was really nice to have her there, literally to the end,” Smith said of the Eastern Tennessee teen he stood with as the winner was announced. “We understood each other in a way others don’t because we come from the same part of the country.
“I think that showed that we’re from someplace really special.”
Harlan is going all out to celebrate Smith’s homecoming. The town has been his biggest supporter throughout the competition, with signs and displays in the area in support of “Team Jordan.”
“He’s always been special to us,” his second-grade teacher, Marilyn Williamson says. “Now that he’s a big celebrity, the whole world sees that.”
People in Harlan have appreciated that Smith has kept his hometown in the spotlight as The Voice competition played out, Mosley said.
“I’m excited to get back to my home that has supported me so faithfully,” Smith said. “I want to get there and thank them, because these people and these mountains have made me what I am.”
(Photo by Tyler Golden/NBC)