Jacob Maxwell had hardly finished singing the first line of Taylor Swift’s “Delicate” before John Legend’s head started bobbing back and forth.
Less than 20 seconds into his audition for NBC’s “The Voice,” Legend and fellow coach Kelly Clarkson made it known that they wanted the Coeur d’Alene native on their teams.
After he finished singing, Clarkson praised his song selection and his “effortless” voice.
Legend, too, had nothing but good things to say about Maxwell.
“Jacob, I’m glad you have a biblical name because I felt like your voice is heavenly,” Legend said. “I love your tone. It’s sweet, it’s distinct.”
Before auditioning, Maxwell decided he’d be equally as happy if either coach Adam Levine or Legend wanted him on their teams.
So when it came time to choose a coach, though it was difficult to say no to Clarkson, Maxwell was set on joining Legend’s team.
Maxwell would go on to top contestant Talon Cardon in the battle round in which the two shared the stage for a performance of “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” by the Police.
Maxwell lost his battle the following week (a performance of Shania Twain’s “You’re Still the One,”) but was saved by Legend and moved on to the playoffs.
Maxwell’s performance of Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” wasn’t enough to keep him in the competition however, and he was eliminated after making it to the top 24.
He’s been back in Coeur d’Alene for a couple of weeks now and is already preparing for his next gig: a sold-out show at the Hagadone Event Center on Friday.
Maxwell started singing and playing the guitar when he was 12 and began performing as part of his church’s worship team when he was 13.
When Maxwell was 15, a musician named Pat Coast suggested he consider playing music professionally and later helped him book his first show.
For the most part, Maxwell’s shows involved providing background music at restaurants, delis and coffee shops, though he would also open for artists during the Live After 5 summer concert series held in McEuen Park.
Eventually Maxwell reached a point where he felt like he needed to make a change. He wasn’t sure where to start though, until his girlfriend suggested he send in an audition video to “The Voice.”
Maxwell grew up watching the show and would brainstorm about songs he could sing during his audition.
He’d never auditioned for a singing competition before but decided to take a chance on “The Voice” because he appreciated the fact that the coaches focus solely on how the contestants sound.
“Especially in this day and age with the music industry, you have to have the look and you have to say the right things, but in that moment, they’re going off the core of what you want to do, which is what you sound like,” he said.
He was also excited by the one-on-one time with the coaches the show offers singers.
Maxwell decided to perform “Delicate” during his audition because he thought singing a song by a female artist would grab the judges’ attention.
“Knowing that that song is pretty big and also in my vocal range, I thought ‘If I could do an acoustic version of this, I think that’d be really surprising and a bit of a strategic move, not to just pick some standard song that a guy sings,’ ” Maxwell said. “I wanted to be creative but also not branch too far away from what I would normally do.”
Legend, according to Maxwell, is calm and collected, a “genius” who tailors his feedback to each singer on his team.
“Every time I got to work with him was a growing experience and I felt like it made me go two steps further to where I wanted to go with that song,” he said.
Though he didn’t make it to the finale – which airs at 9 p.m. Tuesday on NBC and will feature performances from Swift with Brandon Urie of Panic! At the Disco, the Jonas Brothers and BTS – Maxwell walked away with more lessons than he anticipated.
He initially entered the competition to try to build a platform, which he did, but he also built relationships with the contestants and learned about patience and being resilient in the face of the pressure and stress of national television.
“There’s a lot of stress, but to be adaptable, to roll with the punches and make it on top for at least another week really molds you and polishes you as a performer and as a singer,” he said.
Being back in Coeur d’Alene has been bittersweet for Maxwell. He misses the friends he made on the show, but he’s happy to once again be surrounded by his family and friends and the Coeur d’Alene community.
He gets recognized every time he goes out too, which he said is a strange yet flattering experience.
“Growing up here, I feel like I’m the one who belongs here so when someone sees me and they almost seem shocked, it’s so interesting because it’s like ‘I’ve always been here,’ ” he said.
But he’s flattered by the recognition and support he’s received, including in the form of the folks at the Coeur d’Alene Resort organizing a concert for him, which sold out in a week.
“It’s hard to put into words how much that means to me and how much that makes me feel confident to keep going,” he said.
Fans who weren’t able to get a ticket to the Friday show can look forward to the benefit concert Maxwell will perform for the Coeur d’Alene Public Library Foundation on June 21.
After opening for others at Live After 5, Maxwell has also booked a headlining spot in the series later this summer. He’ll also be working on his first EP and hopes to collaborate with fellow “Voice” contestants in some form in the coming months.
“I’m in this process of not letting this momentum slow down quite yet and to keep going,” he said. “It’s been a little chaotic but I’m definitely not going to complain about it. It’s very exciting.”
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