There Jordan Smith was last Monday — center stage on national television, with literally 12 million pairs of viewers' eyes on him, according to Nielsen stats. No band or backup singers behind him for musical support. Just him and a piano in the spotlight waiting to perform on NBC's "The Voice."
After sitting patiently through his video package and host Carson Daley's introduction, the Lee University student stunned his audience by singing 16 a cappella measures of "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" before picking up the melody on the piano and accompanying himself through the remainder of the hymn.
He'd held his starting pitch through the intro and stayed in tune when the adrenalin rush could have easily swayed his pitch sharp and made that performance fall flat. But Smith never broke a sweat.
"I don't really get nervous," he says in a phone interview. "A lot of the other singers are in the corner trying to gather their thoughts. I'm laughing with the staff and joking with the production team. I don't want nerves or worry to get in my way."
"A lot of times on TV shows, you see singers break down because of nerves," says Brad Moffett, director of the Lee Singers.
"Jordan doesn't break down from nerves because he's had so many performance opportunities in his three years at Lee, perhaps as many as 500," Moffett says. "He did receive three years of professional voice training in choir and in studio instruction here, but what Lee did for Jordan was give him the chance to perform literally hundreds of times. It's prepared him for this. He's just an incredibly gifted singer."
Smith's calm demeanor and placid, inscrutable face before performances have become his trademark after 19 episodes on Season 9 of "The Voice." Watch him tonight, when Smith is among the top 11 singing on the show at 8 p.m. Ten contestants will advance on Tuesday night's results show, also airing at 8.
Smith says preparation is his key to remaining calm, cool and collected on performance nights.
"If I feel prepared and I've done an adequate job preparing for my performance, then I'm not nervous," he explains.
It's a skill he credits to his musical training at Lee University. In addition to performing with the Lee Singers, Smith was student director of Second Edition, a six-voice ensemble with band, and was also an active member of the worship team that leads campus chapel services.
"I'll have to say Lee was my training ground and every little thing I did prepared me for this," Smith states.
Contact Susan Pierce at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6284.