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The Voice's Jake Worthington - The Future of Country Music

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America has spoken and they voted in Josh Kaufman as the 6th season's winner. Josh is an incredible singer, and deserved to win the title. What's become apparent on this, and previous seasons of The Voice, is that the newly discovered singers can often sing the pants off their coaches. In their duet of The Police's "Every Breath You Take," Kaufman clearly outshone Usher every step of the way. Usher is a good singer, a great guy and a superlative coach, but Kaufman is simply a better singer at all levels you can measure. He knows how to change his voice for effect, singing brilliant high falsetto and growly lows, he fills songs with an endless array of interesting, well thought out and precisely chosen parts, like a master instrumentalist using his voice to solo. He doesn't just sing so much as he creates a new song each time.

Kudos to the show for living up to its name and bringing incredible singing voices to the forefront of the music industry once again. In this age of fashion models and pretty boys masquerading as singers, could Ella Fitzgerald have succeeded? Could Janis Joplin? Roy Orbison? Aretha? Would they ever have been able to get a foot in the front door for a first audition? Indie music fans are demanding change with their dollar, rejecting the emptysoul sexdoll boyhunk paradigm and instead elevating to stardom performers like the non-beautypageant extraordinary singer (it is about singing, remember?) Brittany Howard of The Alabama Shakes, which is heartening to this grizzled child of the 60's. (Lady Gaga's supernova has spectacularly imploded, surely a sign for the nasty greed-driven life-sucking sharks of the corporate music industry to observe and ponder.... "Hmm, maybe we ought to jump onto this 'genuineness' thing, what's your take? Think it's got legs?")

Which brings us to the real star of The Voice, who should have been the winner, in my mind - Jake Worthington. If ever a name fit, his does, he's worthy of every accolade one could bestow. At all of 18 years old, Jake embodies the perfect country voice in a way that no one has since George Jones. That's the territory Jake's voice is in, the lower register, and his is so full of boom and vibration it could shake and shatter the walls of a country shack on the first note, knock down a Nashville office wall with the next. It's a voice that penetrates, envelops and enters you 'till you just want to give yourself up to it. You trust Jake, he ain't gonna lie, he ain't gonna sing nothing that's not real. Technically, he's a perfect singer. He doesn't do what Josh Kaufman can, that's oranges and apples, but what he does in terms of fills and nuance is equally as perfect as what Josh does. In my mind, more perfect, because if you can do more with less, to me, that's pure artistry. When the listener is no longer aware of the artistry, when there's nothing between you and the song, then you're one with it. That's what Jake Worthington accomplishes.

I've seen the future of country music, on, of all places, a TV show called The Voice, and if the industry blows it and somehow lets this kid fall by the wayside, well then, country music deserves yet another couple of decades full of vacuous tall buff rough pretty boys in tight torn jeans who all sound the same singing yet another variation of a 'let's hear it for country and my home town' song. Country music, let that be your particular endless loop, your shiny little hell to live in... or make Jake a star. Start the change. My guess, though, (I do believe Blake Shelton will see it right) is nothing can stop this kid now.

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