If you have been watching NBC over the last couple of weeks, you may have noticed a familiar local figure flash across your screen during the promo for the 12th Season of The Voice. Local blues-man Jay White has made it to the big stage in Los Angeles and will be appearing soon for the blind auditions at The Voice. I caught up with Jay recently to talk about his journey.
"The whole thing was a God thing from the get-go. It was Sunday after church almost a year ago and we were sitting around doing this or that or whatever. I checked my email and I had an email from some people from a casting company. And they said, “Hey! We’ve been looking at your Youtube videos and we’ve heard your voice and we love your vibe and we think you’d be great for the show. Would you consider joining the Voice Season 12?” Jay laughed, "I’m 66 years old. Do you know who you are talking to? The last thing I would have ever done is audition for The Voice. I promise you. That was the last thing on my radar. In my mind, it was for kids!"
Jay, a devoted husband to wife Cynthia and father of two boys Jay Alan and Lee Abram, had to get the blessing of his family before making a decision. "I’m like the cook in the house. Without me, it’s Whataburger and frozen pizza and stuff like that. But, everybody was just thrilled. Both my boys and my wife told me I had to go for it. My wife is a huge fan of the show and she watches it all the time. I never really watched it much because I was busy doing other things like watching football and other things."
Jay continued, "So we signed all of the agreements and we went and I had to go audition for the producers for the show and prepare some songs for them. I prepared some songs - they wouldn’t let me play my guitar - so I made some soundtracks from my band. They said, “Based on what we’ve heard we want you to come back and do a blind audition.” That was in Los Angeles and they payed for the trip 100%. It was wonderful! I had a king sized bed and I said, “Cynthia - I wish you were with me!” It was about four days and it would have been great to be with her alone and away from the dogs and the kids. It was just great! They really treated me right. From the casting people, to the production people, to the guys that drove the mini-vans and chauffeured us around and the handlers - absolutely everybody I’ve met associated with the show has been the sweetest and most encouraging people I’ve ever worked with. I’m enjoying it! I really am! I’ve learned a lot and there’s a lot more to learn. I’ve been blessed a lot and there is a lot more blessing to come. I’ve tried to share what I’ve learned, what I can, with some of my local Texas musician friends that have been really supportive."
Jay is quick to give God credit for the entire process. "It’ such a God thing because I would have never done it on my own - ever. The cool thing about the whole thing is that I have a relationship with the Lord and I love Jesus. I don’t brag about that all the time and I don’t push that. If anybody ever wants to talk about it, I’ll talk about it. I’m happy to share that with anybody that wants to hear but I don’t push it down anyone’s throat. I made that clear with everybody on the show And that’s important to me. And the people seemed to be totally accepting of that. That kind of put me at ease. I met so many of the other cast members that are either members of a worship team at church or worship leaders at their church. There are a whole bunch of young Christians that are associated with that program. The people that work there respect that. It blew me away."
Jay spent about a month in Los Angeles during the production of the show. Even at 66 years old, he learned a ton. "There are a couple of great things I learned- Number one - I got to hang out with and be coached by, and am still being coached by some world class vocal coaches that who are the vocal coaches to the stars. That’s just an opportunity that a lot of people never have and I learned so much from them. I learned how to warm up, I learned how to expand my range, and I’m learning how to cool down and all kinds of different stuff on how to take care of your voice. As far as the business side goes, one of the coolest things was I learned how important it was to have a music attorney who loves you. If you have a music attorney who loves you all the rest of the doors will be opened. They know how to do it. I’m talking about music publishing, records, gigs, management and all the stuff that music people need to make it in the business. You can’t do it without the attorney. The attorney is the first piece that people need to put in place. Not just an attorney attorney, but a music attorney who is connected in the business and can do things for you. Find a top dog. And the top dogs are available. They’re looking for people like us!"
Jay has been humbled by the experience and hopes that he can use what he's learned to help other musicians along the way. "I just don’t know what else to say except it’s an incredible experience and I’m learning so much. This is a great thing. The way I see it is that if anybody in this area does anything that attracts attention to this area, it’s good for all of us. I got to talk to (local musicians) Justin Bravo, Dave Trueblood, and Charles Ott. The main thing I wanted to get across to them is just don’t give up. If this is your calling in life, keep doing it. It’s not easy. If it was easy, everybody could do it. They have some great stuff and they just need to keep doing it. And I hope they do keep doing it. I know they have day jobs to support their music habit, but don’t ever quit the music. I know about the day job thing. I had to do that myself. You gotta do what’s necessary so you can do what you love."
Other than his work on The Voice, Jay is busy with many other projects on the horizon. "I’m working on new music for another original album, I’m working on a worship album that’s going to have three original but the rest will be songs that everybody in church will know. And, I’m recording some Mo-Town classics that I’ve always wanted to record. I’m dong those because the way I see it, I might as well do what I want to do. I’m real busy with studio stuff." His band, The Blues Commanders, have been very supportive. Jay also hopes to do some smaller, acoustic gigs with Brett Edds and Brian Gowan in the near future. Gigs with the Blues Commanders are planned as well.
Jay is beyond grateful for the support from the local community and is relieved that the project that has taken up a lot of the last year is almost here. "I’m thrilled, I’m flabbergasted, I’m floor-boarded, I’m humbled, I’m honored."
The 12th season of The Voice premiers on Monday, February 27th on NBC.
You can order Jay's current album JayWalkin' on iTunes here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/jaywalkin/id982007006