‘The Voice’s’ Jared Blake talks recovering from addiction, ‘Don’t Let Her Be Gone’ meaning ahead of SBB show

The Voice's Jared Blake will be performing at Suck Bang Blow in Murrells Inlet.

On Saturday, November 18, country performer Jared Blake returns to Suck Bang Blow, 3393 U.S. 17 Business, in Murrells Inlet. Blake reached 14 million viewers as a contestant on Season 1 of NBC’s “The Voice,” making Top Four on Blake Shelton’s team. Two of his singles, “Countryfied” and “Stomp” gained respectable positions on the U.S. country charts, peaking at 66 and 76 respectively.

In 2011, Blake set out on a national acoustic tour in support of his single, “Don’t Mind,” which garnered grassroots airplay and ultimately gave him the wherewithal to start touring with his full band.

He is also a father of six, and is actively involved with his nonprofit, Live to Be – an organization he founded with wife Jennifer Blake – devoted to helping youth across the country make the decisions necessary to ensure that their lives stay positive and productive, while avoiding the pitfalls of peer pressure and the temptations of drugs and alcohol.

His show will coincide with Live to Be events in area schools. Blake spoke with The Sun News by telephone:

Q: Many people know you from “The Voice,” but you had a publishing contract before that with Sony/ATV, and you have been playing out forever. Do you consider all this a part of the dues-paying process?

A: I don’t think you ever get through paying your dues. I think it’s all a perspective of where you are trying to go.

When “The Voice” came along, it was an opportunity to put your career back into your hands. Once you can get in front of an audience that big, it gives you a little stronger hold on – ‘OK, this is an audience that likes me – this is a fan base that we can start with’ – and then touring around the nation to continue building yourself. The dues are still being paid after the show. If anything, I would say they are being paid more. I’m glad you asked that, because nobody has ever asked that.

Q: What was your takeaway from working with Blake Shelton?

A: My coaching relationship with Blake was a little different than most. Blake was really, really cool about giving me respect from day one. He thought that that I was a great entertainer and vocalist, and he just wanted to let me be. When they would come out and try to change things about your performance or talk to you about doing this or that, he would be quick to jump in there and go, “Just leave that guy alone. Watch what he does. Just let him do his thing.”

That was the most important thing he brought to the table for me – just kind of standing up for me as an artist.

Q: Listening to two of your singles, “Countryfied” and “Stomp,” we heard a sort of hybrid of roots music/Americana/down-and- dirty Delta stuff coupled with a driving, danceable beat – but then you have almost anthemic, from-the- heart songs like “Home” and “The Only One.” It’s like you strike a balance. How do you define your sound?

A: You hit it right on the head. I think as an artist, I try to look to the artists that inspired me – people like Garth [Brooks]. On every project, he was almost completely different than every project he had done before, yet it was still Garth – and you knew that it was Garth. I kind of followed that sort of school by continuously growing as an artist and from a songwriting standpoint. I think you always have it in you to always grow.

The next project is going to have the same qualities you are talking about, only it’s going to be a little more songwriter-driven – more lyrical with a deeper value, and a little more to the heart of who I am.

Q: What would you define as your genre?

A: I’ve always felt that music is music. You either like it or you don’t like it. With us, it’s country, but that’s mainly because that’s how I grew up. In a town of 2000 people in Arkansas, not being country was not an option.

Q: Can you tell us about your nonprofit, Live to Be?

A: While I was on “The Voice,” they announced me as a recovering addict. They had these little liners about who you were to kind of sum you up. Mine was “recovering addict/father of six/country rocker.”

That wasn’t anything we were wanting to discuss in public – but it wound up being one of the best things for us. My Facebook and Twitter went nuts with people wanting to get help – to get their son help, their father, their mother – that sort of thing. I tried to answer each message and to help as much as possible – but you know, change is so much their choice. You can’t really change someone. You can only help them so much.

We started looking back to how effectively we had led our own children and how close they were to us – and what were we doing with them that seemed different from what other people might be doing. How could we affect a larger group? How could we stop the problem before it ever started? Because that seems easier or a better goal to accomplish than trying to get someone to change. With Live to Be, we go into these schools and talk to kids about good life choices. We talk about my experience – play a few songs for them – and we usually put on a show sometime that week. We will be speaking at a few of the schools in the Myrtle Beach area, and then playing our show out at Suck Bang Blow.

Q: What do you have in the works right now?

A: Right now, we’re really getting behind the new single just came out to radio – “Don’t Let Her Be Gone.”

This song was written by my producer, John Osborne. It was a typical girl/guy fighting – over time drifting apart from each other, becoming different people – and the girl wanted to go out and find herself. And the guy letting her go, but all the while wondering if she was ever going to come back to him.

While we were making that song, we were in a head-on collision with a drunk driver on the interstate. My wife broke her back and went through a lot of physical therapy. But neither one of us should have survived the accident, and it totally changed the meaning of the song. Whenever you spend five hours in the emergency room, not knowing where your wife is or what’s going on – “Don’t Let Her Be Gone” takes on a whole other meaning.

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