(Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC)


› Nine remaining semifinalists will sing for viewers’ votes tonight on “The Voice,” then learn Tuesday which of them will be finalists to sing for the Season 9 title on Dec. 14.

› “The Voice” airs on NBC at 8 p.m. tonight and Tuesday.

Even though each of Jordan Smith's performances on "The Voice" has cracked the top 10 on iTunes' singles chart since Season 9 began 11 weeks ago, the singer says he's still shocked every time he opens the app and finds his name there.

"It's so incredible to see my name on iTunes at all, let alone in the No. 2 spot," he says, referring to results of his performance last Monday of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah."

"Quite honestly, this entire experience has been so surreal," the 21-year-old Lee University student says. "Each week I am blown away by all of the unconditional support I receive from my fans and followers, and I am so incredibly humbled to see something that I've created be successful in that way. I will never stop being grateful for it and I will never take the support of everyone back home for granted."

That support is critical to Smith tonight. Of the nine semifinalists still in the running for the Season 9 title, five will be cut on Tuesday night's show, leaving four finalists to sing for the win on Dec. 14. The actual winner will be announced on Tuesday, Dec. 15.

While Smith is considered a front runner, there are four others with equally as strong voices and fan bases: Knoxville's country singer Emily Ann Roberts, jazz vocalist Amy Vachal, teen heartthrob Zach Seabaugh and high school drama teacher Barrett Baber. Any combination of those five could be the finalists, not discounting remaining contestants Shelby Brown, Braiden Sunshine, Jeffery Austin and Madi Davis.

Smith's friends in Cleveland, Tenn., are holding a viewing-and-voting party on the Lee campus tonight. Although Smith is the third Lee student to reach at least semifinalist status on a TV talent show, Lee's dean of the School of Music says he believes students are a little more invested in Smith's success.

"When Phil Stacey was on 'American Idol' (in 2007), he had already graduated, so students then really didn't know him well," says Dean William Green. "Clark Beckham (runner-up this year on 'American Idol') was actually a history major, but was very involved in our choirs."

"This is a little different in that Jordan is a music major, is in their classes, sings with them in choirs. The music students have really connected with that. There is a buzz around the halls after every Monday and Tuesday night's show.

"I'm a little giddy with it, too," the dean confesses, laughing.

So how much input does Smith have in what he'll sing tonight? What happens behind-the-scenes after Tuesday's results? In the following Q&A, the singer fills fans in on as much as he is allowed to tell.

Q: Who picks the songs for the live round? How much input do you have?

"Song selection is a very complicated process and requires a lot of brains working together. Lots of ideas are presented in the beginning and then specific choices are made from there based on the validity of the song to me and my story and the fact that it must be cleared for our use."

"I have the opportunity to express my ideas for songs and submit lists of suggestions that I think would be fitting for the show, and we work from that list to find all the right fits. It takes a lot of working together between artist, coach and the music department, but ultimately it depends on what my coach and I think is best."

Q How much one-on-one rehearsal time do you actually get with your coach each week?

"Rehearsal time with my coach is crucial. Because there are still three people on my team, I have to take advantage of every rehearsal and make the most out of the time I spend working with (coach) Adam Levine."

"We get a rehearsal together during the week, which can last anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour or more (whatever is needed, really). Then I spend time rehearsing with the band and a voice coach, who helps me apply the notes given to me during my rehearsal with Adam."

some text
Lee University's Jordan Smith performs on NBC's "The Voice."

Q: Viewers have seen Coach Blake Shelton and your coach, Adam Levine, change orchestration/arrangements for their singer's songs during rehearsals. Do you have any input into that as well, or is it the coach's decision? For example, who thought you should accompany yourself on "Great Is Thy Faithfulness?"

"These coaches are successful, well-trained musicians and their natural ear for arranging is impeccable. Most arrangements done on the show are a collaboration of the coach, artist and band. We work together to land on an arrangement that highlights all the right moments and really helps us drive home who we are as an artist."

"I personally have had the chance to provide lots of input when it comes to the version of each song. When working on 'Great Is Thy Faithfulness,' I presented the idea of accompanying myself on piano to Adam by just playing it for him. We all agreed that it was the right decision and we moved forward from there. Each rehearsal is a safe environment to express ideas and opinions, and Adam welcomes our thoughts on our songs and arrangements."

Q: How are you taking care of your voice while doing such extended singing week after week?

"Singing this much is very taxing, and it takes a lot of effort to keep your voice in good condition throughout this process. For all the time I spend singing in a day, I try to spend that much time being quiet and not speaking that day. Oftentimes, I will barely speak at all in a day so I can allow my vocal chords to rest after long days filled with singing."

"I also try to drink as much warm tea and water as possible. Keeping your vocal chords lubricated allows you to sing healthily and, therefore, I am always drinking as much water as possible! The key to success in this rigorous schedule is pacing yourself and not oversinging when it isn't necessary."

Contact Susan Pierce at or 423-757-6284.