The past years has been comprised of the things dreams were made of for Jake Hoot. Over that span, he’s catapulted on to the radars of millions after winning season 17 of The Voice, he’s released five singles that have earned nearly 400,000 combined streams, forged a path to being a full-time musician, and most recently, possibly most importantly, left his fans chomping at the bit for his forthcoming EP.
After his win on The Voice, Hoot took the leap to full-time musician, and if his music video for his most recent single, a cover of “La Bamba,” is any indication of how it’s going, it certainly looks like Hoot is having the time of his life!
We chatted with Hoot about his win on The Voice, what he took away from the experience, the music he’s released since the show, what listeners can expect from his EP and more!
Pro Country: When you were standing on The Voice stage with Ricky Duran awaiting the results, what was going through your mind? What did the moment Carson Daly announced you as the winner mean to you?
Jake Hoot: I think I’m still trying to process what was going through my mind [laughs]. In all honesty, I remember riding over in the van to the show that night with Ricky, Katie and Rose, and all of us were saying that the other was going to win. There was so much support amongst us, it was really special. When Katie and Rose got called off and it was just me and Ricky, I was thinking, “How in the world am I still in this?” If you watch back, you can see me tell Ricky, “You’ve got this,” because I thought that anybody else but me was going to win it. Hearing Carson call my name knocked the wind out of me. It’s one of those moments that feels like you’re living in a dream. At 350 pounds, it’s hard to feel lighter, but I felt lighter at that moment [laughs]. With all the noise, confetti and stuff going off and Kelly Clarkson running up on stage, it was just all really special.
PC: To that point, after you were announced as winner, Kelly Clarkson is heard on the broadcast saying she was proud of you. What did Kelly’s support throughout your journey on The Voice mean to you, and what is it like to have someone so talented in your corner?
JH: Oh gosh, it’s hard to even put into words. Anytime you have somebody take a chance on you, whether they’re a big star not, it’s really special. To have somebody of her caliber take a chance on me and continue to support me and push me; even since the show, she’s continued to help me out and take time out of her day to help me out, it means the world. One thing I can say that I took away from her is how to approach songs differently. She taught me to learn songs in a completely different way. Rather than just singing words, you have to live the words and have people feel those words through you. It’s been really special, and I’m really lucky that I got to be on her team!
PC: Would you say that having that approach to performing is the biggest thing you took away from the show, or would you say it was something else?
JH: I think the biggest takeaway was the family that you create there. I would never say that one of the biggest parts is the artistry that you hone in on; the vocal coach is an incredible teacher, and I learned so much from her, Kelly and the other contestants. The biggest thing I walked away with was becoming family with everybody, whether it was Kelly, the other contestants, the people behind the scenes, the producers, the band and everybody else. You walk away from it as a part of something that’s bigger than you. It’s been really special to stay in touch with those people, and I still hear from the producers and the sound guys, it’s really special to walk away with that. However, I definitely learned so much about singing and how to perform on stage throughout the process as well.
PC: Winning a show like The Voice can be a pretty life-altering thing. What has been the biggest adjustment for you since winning the show?
JH: I think the biggest adjustment has been going full-time in the music. I’ve always dreamed of doing music full-time, but I’ve always been riding the fence of walking away from a consistent paycheck or doing anything in my career that I can’t provide for my daughter. Taking that leap of faith earlier this year, literally weeks before Covid shut everything down, was a big move. That was probably the biggest life-altering moment I had, because I had worked through high school and college without really taking any breaks, so to go from that to being my own boss and going into the entertainment industry, that was a big leap. However, I’ve seen so many incredible things since then that I can’t complain. God has given me complete peace about everything, and of course, I got to play the Grand Ole Opry, so I don’t know how much bigger I can get! It’s just been a really special ride and I’m really fortunate to be on it.
PC: Your first single after The Voice was “Tennessee Strong,” which has since accrued well over 130,000 streams. Is there a certain level of validation that comes with having that success so soon after your success on The Voice and taking that leap into music?
JH: Oh gosh, absolutely! I try to keep up with the numbers as much as I can, but I’m also kind of nervous in case something doesn’t go as well as you hope it will [laughs]. “Tennessee Strong” was a Hail Mary, kind of like an audible at the line. I had every intention of releasing “Dangerous Thing” first, and so did my team, but I went on a missions trip, and literally the day I got back, I said I wanted to release “Tennessee Strong” first. I put my whole team in panic mode with getting everything set for it, so it was all such a last-second thing. When we were recording, a couple people may have gotten exposed to Covid, so we had to record in our own separate studios, and we had all these world-class musicians that came together and did this thing completely free to help the tornado victims out, so it was just a huge thing for me. And like you said, I had been a musician in the past, but doing it full-time and doing it outside of the umbrella of The Voice, seeing it do so well has been incredible!
PC: You released your single “Best Job I Ever Had,” around Father’s Day, and is a song you wrote for your daughter, Macy. What has the song meant for you and your family, and what do you think it is about the song that has allowed listeners to put themselves in the song and story??
JH: I think any time you have a song that’s written and performed about real life, something that’s just a raw sentiment of this is what it’s like to be a parent, the response is amazing. It’s been awesome to hear from parents and have them say that this song describes what it’s like to be a parent perfectly. They can hear the song and think back on memories when their kids, who are now grown and moved on, they can remember when they were in diapers. It’s been really special to watch people have that connection!
PC: You’ve said that you drew inspiration for your last single, “Nadine,” from a real-life couple. How important is it for you to be receptive of and to tell other people’s stories and relate to them?
JH: It’s incredibly terrifying if I’m being honest. If it’s a story that relates to you, that’s one thing, but when you’re writing a story about somebody else and it’s a true story, the last thing you want to do is mess up any details or fluff any details up. You don’t want to change things to fit your song, so when it came to “Nadine,” I sat down with her, then called her a month later, just asking her details about her story. I sat there for over an hour and wrote little notes and memories down that she had told me, so it’s incredibly important. When somebody’s going to be vulnerable enough to tell you and trust you with their love story, and then for them to hear it and tell you that you got everything right, it’s the most incredible feeling in the world.
PC: You just released a cover of “La Bamba” a few weeks ago. Can you talk about what drew you to record the song?
JH: “La Bamba” is a song that I played when I first started learning guitar. I would sit around with my siblings and we would sing the song and absolutely love it! I would sing it at open mic nights and then at a bunch of my shows after college, and it was always a crowd favorite. It didn’t matter what restaurant, bar, brewery or winery we were in, as soon as you play that opening lick, everybody perks up. They may not know the words, but they always try to sing along. I actually tried to sing it on The Voice, and I don’t think it necessarily fit their format. When I got off of the show, I brought it up and nobody was really feeling it. When we got to talking about the EP, I told them that was a song I wanted to do. I kept coming back to it for some reason, so I felt like I had to put it on the EP. It’s been incredible to see all the people that got to be a part of it and watch the story and music video come alive!
PC: To your point, Ricky Duran played lead guitar on “La Bamba,” and you had several more Voice alums singing background vocals on the track. What was it like for you to reunite with them and have them be a part of the song?
JH: It was so special! I remember when I sat down with my producer and we were talking about it, and I told him I had the perfect guy to play guitar on it. It was always going to be Ricky from the get-go. I love his guitar playing and his voice, and I loved him as a person. We got really close towards the end of the show, so to have him play guitar on it and sing on it was so special. He flew all the way up from Texas, and Alex Guthrie was my roommate on the show, and he drove up from Atlanta to be a part of it. Then we had Max, Gracie, Zoe the Jordans and my fiance. To have some of the closest people in my world all be in one place singing a song that I had a vision for, it’s hard to put words into it. Now to watch the music video and see everybody dancing around and having a great time, it almost makes me emotional.
PC: You’ve mentioned that you’re working on a new EP. What information can you give about it? What can listeners expect to hear?
JH: I can say that we have some big surprises on it. I’m very excited and pumped for people to hear it. I had a hand in writing every song but “La Bamba,” so that’s really special to me. From the title track to the other songs on it, every single one has very deep lyrics, and they all represent a part of my story. It’s really special, and I can’t wait for everybody to hear it!
PC: 2020 has altered most of the plans of artists so far. Of the things you can control, what are your plans for the rest of the year and going into 2021?
JH: We’re going to ride the train of “La Bamba” for a while and promote that as much as we can, but we’re going to keep doing our thing. We’re going to keep writing, creating new music, and of course, I’m getting married in March, so wedding planning and buying a house and all that other stuff is taking up a lot of time. The music is very important to me, so I’ve got a lot of stuff coming for 2021. We’re very optimistic and hopeful, but regardless, we’re going to keep busting our butts no matter what.
PC: Is there anything you’d like to add?
JH: I just want to say thank you to each and every person who voted for me on the show, and everyone who’s continued to support me after the show. A lot of the people phase out once they get off of the show, but my fans are really and truly the best fans in the world. They continue to support me, so I just want to say a huge thank you and send my love to everybody!
*All images courtesy of Jake Hoot Facebook page*
**Jake’s music is featured on The Best of Pro Country playlist!**