Jacob Interviews….Singer/Songwriter Jared Blake

 

Jared Blake The Voice

Jared Blake’s impeccable cover of the Kings of Leon’s “Use Somebody” charted at #16 on the iTunes charts. (Photo by NBC’s Lewis Jacobs)

By: Jacob Elyachar

While Nicholas David, Terry McDermott and Cassadee Pope prepare for the final round of competition on The Voice, I had the chance to catch up with season one quarterfinalist Jared Blake.

Before he wowed the audience with his incredible covers of “Not Ready to Make Nice” and “Use Somebody,” the Arkansas native was a songwriter for Sony/ATV and Love Monkey Music while working with some of the biggest names in country music including Gretchen Wilson, Dierks Bentley and Jamey Johnson.

The country rocker opened up to me about his time on the hit NBC show and which legendary singer gave him the biggest complement in his life.

Jacob Elyachar: How did you get interested in music?

Jared Blake: I grew up in a town of 2,000 people in the middle of Arkansas so, needless to say, there was not anything to do.    My parents had a piano in their house and I started playing that at a pretty early age and started writing songs.

JE: Who are your musical influences?

JB: There are a ton of them but if I had to narrow it down, I would choose Bob Seger, Johnny Cash and Guns N’ Roses. Kris Kristofferson is my favorite when it comes to songwriters.   I discovered all of those guys probably around the same time, when I was 12.

At that time, all of my friends were listening to rap and my brother thought it was horrible and he decided to educate me.   He bought me a Guns N’ Roses album and that lead into everything else.

JE: When did you realize that you had a niche for songwriting?

JB: I did not really understood what songwriting was until I was 19 and I moved away from home.  I wrote my first song when I was five-years-old for my brother’s wedding and after that I continued to dabble in it throughout high school.  I moved to Missouri right after high school, I started playing out more and that’s when it became really clear to me that songwriting really existed.

The town that I moved to was a very musical town and there were more people noticing what you were doing.  I did not realize that songwriting was common and that other singers really seemed to appreciate how much songwriting I did and the songs that I wrote.     Later on, I started doing research about songwriters in Nashville that got paid just to write songs.   I thought “No way! That’s cool! You get paid to sit around and write songs.”

So I quickly moved to Nashville after that and signed a publishing deal with Sony and that was my life for four years.

JE: Why did you originally audition for the Voice?

JB:  I had been in Nashville for 10 years and had worked with a lot of publishing companies.  However, it seemed like the labels were a little sketched of me because of my rock background.    I was not really keen on reality shows at the time but, my two managers came to me and told me that they have auditions for Bravo’s Platinum Hit.   While I made it passed the initial rounds of the show’s audition process, I was let go after that final round of auditions.

I wanted to remain in Los Angeles because I met a lot of cool cats and I told my managers about that and they mentioned that The Voice was having auditions and encouraged me to go try out.    But before I decided to audition, I had second thoughts.  I decided that I did not want to perform at the Blind Auditions and I would stay in L.A. on my own.   However, my manager coaxed me into auditioning for the show and thank God that I did audition because it was one of the best things that has happened to me and it just opened up doors around the country.

JE: You were eliminated during the first Blind Audition but you were given a second chance to perform again.   How much did that second chance mean to you?

JB: When they came back and asked if I wanted to come back out for a second try, because I was one of the artists that the Coaches wanted to see again, I was not really excited by it.    I was not real sure if I wanted to do again because at that point, we did not see how successful the show was going to be and the last thing that you wanted to do was get kicked out twice on national T.V. on a show that flopped.

The producers told me that Blake Shelton wanted to see me back out there.    I said I will go back out there and while I was making my way back to L.A., the Blind Auditions were still going on at the time and I did not have time to rehearse with the band or anything, so I went on stage with my acoustic guitar and performed the Dixie Chicks’ “Not Ready to Make Nice.”   That song was much more similar to what I write and what I do as a songwriter.

Jared Blake with Blake Shelton and Reba McEntire

In addition from receiving advice from mentor Blake Shelton, country legend Reba McEntire gave Jared the best compliment that he has ever received. (Photo by NBC’s Lewis Jacobs)

JE: You had a great opportunity during the Battle Rounds, where not only you had the chance to work with Blake Shelton but also his guest: the legendary Reba McEntire.  What was that experience like?

JB:  Working with Reba was amazing because it was Reba.  People ask me constantly “How did they coach you vocally?”  The problem I have answering that question is I do not know how much vocal coaching goes on during the show.   Blake taught me a lot of valuable lessons but most were more in the sense of the way he treated his fans and how he continued to build his career.     He is very grateful and thankful for what he has and continues to show that to his fans.

Reba gave me one of the biggest complements I have ever heard in my life.  We sat down one day and we went through one of the songs.  Reba stated that she looked me up online and looked at some of my other music and said: “I just wanted to tell you that you are one of the most original artist that I have met.  Back when I was getting signed, you were exactly what the record labels were looking for…something totally unique and original and if I were you, I would not change a thing.”

JE: How did the Voice help you as an artist?

JB: It opened up everything for me.   I signed a deal with Skidco Records about six months ago and the founder, Grammy-winning artist Skidd Mills, discovered me through the show.     He also founded Saving Abel and also worked as a producer and engineer for acts including Ozzy Osbourne and ZZ Top.     The show has helped put the careers of the artists back in their hands to where you can pursue the commercial side of things but you can run an independent career successfully at the same time.

JE: Who are your dream collaborators?

JB: I would definitely like to collaborate with Kris Kristofferson in the future.  In addition, I would like to hook up with Kid Rock.   There are no boundaries in the stuff that he does and that is really cool.      I am very fortunate to write with one of my dream collaborators, which is Skidd Mills.

JE: If you had any advice for aspiring singer/songwriters, what would it be and why?

JB: Do it, because you love it. It’s not an easy life and you have to be in it for the love of music.   If you can do anything else that will make you remotely happy, then you should go do that.  (Laughs)  You do not want to waste your life doing this, unless it is something that you really love.   Plus, do not chase your dream…. LIVE IT!

For more information about Jared Blake, visit his website: http://jaredblakemusic.com/

 

 

 

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