For his Atlantic City debut, “The Voice” winner Jordan Smith wants audiences to feel as if they’re sitting in his living room.
“I love to talk, and I love to make people laugh,” says Smith, who will perform 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22, at The Music Box at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa. “There are sad and funny and serious moments — it’s about me sharing my story and heart through my music.”
Smith’s story begins in a small town in Kentucky, where he got his start singing in a church choir. He kept performing through high school and college, where he majored in the music business, before landing an audition last fall for Season 9 of NBC’s “The Voice.”
Looking more like a graduate student in a cardigan sweater, plaid shirt and dark-framed glasses than a pop star wannabe, he received a standing ovation from the four coaches for his multi-octave take on Sia’s “Chandelier.”
“I don’t know if I’m happy or really scared,” he said at the time.
Viewers of the talent competition also took to Smith. He became an audience favorite for his gospel-charged versions of everything from Maroon 5’s “Love Somebody” to “Climb Every Mountain” from “The Sound of Music,” all the while looking like a not-quite-grown-up choir boy.
“I have been very fortunate that ‘The Voice’ is a very positive show,” he says. “Since the beginning, the producers and everyone else reminded us that we want you to be who you are and to be comfortable. We don’t want you to act in a certain way in front of the cameras.”
His major label debut “Something Beautiful,” released by Republic Records/LightWorkers Records, showed the rewards of staying true to his instincts.
It was the first release from a label created by producers Mark Burnett (“The Apprentice”) and Roma Downey and debuted in March at No. 2 on the Billboard Top 200. It was the year’s highest album sales debut for a new artist and the biggest first-week album sales of any “Voice” winner.
Helmed by an A-list production team that included Grammy-winning veteran David Foster and buzz-worthy producer Stephan Moccio, the record spans original material (first single “Stand in the Light”) and covers of contemporary and classic songs (“Love Somebody,” Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful,” “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “Amazing Grace”).
The stylistic mix reflects Smith’s diverse influences, among them gospel singer Shirley Caesar, singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles and the late, legendary diva Whitney Houston.
“I grew up listening to all kinds of different music — I love to experience different kinds of music for myself,” he says. “The common theme for all of it is authenticity.”
Whether the 22-year-old is singing a cover or an original tune, he wants to make it his own, just like his idols.
“To hear Whitney Houston singing ‘I Will Always Love You’ is a life-changing experience every time because she means it,” he says.
Both on “The Voice” and during his subsequent tour, Smith has tried to mean it every time he steps in front of the mic.
“I have my plan laid out, so the band knows what’s going to happen. But each place is completely different,” Smith says. “I like to be in the moment, so there’s always stuff that’s changing up and stuff that’s different in the order. I’m not too stuck in the plan.
“I definitely feel a lot more comfortable on stage now,” he adds. “I used to put a lot of thought in everything I said and did and how I moved around on stage. Now it’s a natural feeling for me. I really feel at home on stage — I can see how I’ve grown.”
Getting into the holiday spirit a little early
The calendar may say October, but it’s beginning to feel like Christmas for singer Jordan Smith.
Smith will release his debut holiday recording “Tis the Season” and may preview a track from the holiday record for Atlantic City audiences.
The album includes favorites such as “Silent Night,” “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” and “O Holy Night,” with special guests the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
“For me, it’s never too early for holiday music,” Smith says. “I was recording the Christmas album in June in Los Angeles and sweating in the studios. I might have to throw something in there, because I literally love holiday music — that’s my favorite kind of music.”