‘The Voice’ Q&A: Jake Worthington on Keith Whitley’s Lasting Impact

 The Voice - Season 6 (NBC, Trae Patton)

Jake Worthington didn’t get the chairs to turn around during his initial Blind Audition on The Voice, but the teenager’s love for country music and performing compelled him to give the show another shot. After his inspired and heartrending rendition of the Keith Whitley classic “Don’t Close Your Eyes” resulted in a three chair turn this season (Usher stayed put, leaving Blake, Shakira and Adam to fight for Jake), the singer eventually went with Blake Shelton to continue his journey on The Voice.

I had a few moments to chat with Jake Worthington this week, and he expressed sincere gratitude for his current run on The Voice, and although he’s determined to carve out his own path to success, he’s also mindful of all the other talented singers who haven’t received such a huge opportunity. Last week, Blake Shelton chose Worthington over talented songbird Lexi Luca during the Battle Rounds (they performed Thomas Rhett’s hit tune “It Goes Like This”).

Here’s our very brief chat with Worthington, who came off as refreshingly humble and candid during the interview. Hope you enjoy (if you haven’t checked out his version of “Don’t Close Your Eyes” – play the video below and get ready to be floored).

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There’s a lot of great folks out there who haven’t been recognized, and I’m just trying to good for myself, trying to do right with the Lord. I’m just going to keep pushing and pushing to stay on and I’ve actually developed fans which I think is crazy and I’m really thankful for.

What was it like for you to receive such a huge reception for your version of Keith Whitley’s Don’t Close Your Eyes during the Blind rounds?

Yeah man. Keith Whitley, as we all know, was a very troubled soul. With that being said, he was one of the greatest country singers that ever walked the Earth. He’s also one of the best songwriters. When Keith Whitley passed, he took a piece of the world with him. Whether you’re a country music fan or not, you know Keith Whitley and you know George Strait. There will never be another Keith Whitley or a George Strait.

It was tough man. I am a huge Keith Whitley fan. And the only thing I wanted to do with that song was do it justice. That man is so hard to do justice. Nobody could ever soothe your soul like he could. I was just thankful for the opportunity. I’m lucky I got the opportunity and I’m so appreciative of being able to play one of his songs.

The coolest thing I saw through that Blind Audition, beside making a team and having all the people that supported me, was on iTunes, my cut was #37 at one time. But Keith Whitley’s original cut of the song was in the Top Ten. Lorrie Morgan must have been happy, you know? For me, it meant a lot to be able to put that song back on the charts.

The Voice - Season 6 (NBC, Tyler Golden)How has Blake Shelton nurtured your talents throughout the competition? Will you play more roots driven country music in the coming weeks?

Man, so far it’s been awesome. I cannot complain whatsoever. He totally supports me soulfully. I think at this stage in the competition it’s going to be hard to put out that kind of stuff with going through the Battle Rounds and the next step. I truly believe if I go further in the competition I have that opportunity to focus on that type of country music.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the new stuff too, but I think country needs to get back to its roots like Jamey Johnson and Justin Moore. Those two guys are putting out good stuff right now. Everybody’s putting out good stuff now, but I want to wave that flag of traditional country music.

I grew up, like you said, listening to blues and rock ‘n and roll and all sorts of different stuff. That’s just where my heart is. I’m more than thankful to have such a platform and a great group of people that are backing the show. I’m very fortunate and I’m so happy to be where I’m at right now.

Jake, thank you for your time and have a great week.

Hey man, I appreciate it. Thank you for having me on.

 

The Voice airs Tuesday and Wednesdays on NBC (8 pm et/pt).

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