Jordan Mackenzie Smith, a 21-year-old Lee University senior from Harlan County, Kentucky, was declared the winner of season nine of the singing competition The Voice on Tuesday, Dec. 15, after Monday night performances of “Mary, Did You Know,” “Climb Every Mountain,” and “God Only Knows” on the hit NBC reality TV singing competition show, earning $100,000, a Republic Records recording contract and a Nissan Altima car. Smith had teamed up with Usher Terry Raymond known mononymously as Usher. He will next be seen in battle round competition, which begins airing Oct. 12.
On the Dec. 8 episode of The Voice, Smith’s cover of Queen’s “Somebody To Love” took the top spot on the iTunes chart from Adele’s “Hello” within an hour of the end of the show.
Smith, a native of Harlan, Kentucky, is a senior at Lee with a music business major. He took this semester off to participate in The Voice, but plans to return to Lee to finish his degree.
Smith’s talent for singing started at a young age. He describes his parents as being musically inclined and says that some of his fondest memories are of them harmonizing together and singing all the time.
Growing up, Smith participated in a choir, led by director Jeanne Anne Lee, from fifth grade until his high school graduation. Smith credits Ms. Lee with helping him improve his practical skills, such as reading sheet music and vocal control.
His decision to attend Lee followed his love of music. When Smith was in middle school, his grandfather told him about a concert featuring Lee Singers. A few years later, he visited campus and according to Smith, he immediately fell in love with Lee. Throughout his time at Lee, he has been actively involved with Lee Singers, directed by Dr. Brad Moffett.
The Lee family has been supporting Jordan’s journey since the beginning. On Dec. 7, in the midst of finals, students held a viewing-and-voting party in the student union. Lee Singers director and Smith’s mentor Dr. Brad Moffett visited Smith in Los Angeles earlier this month. WBIR’s Russell Biven arranged for Dontarius “DJ” Young, Lee alum and Smith’s friend, to visit Smith as well.
Since his debut on the show, Smith has stunned both audiences and judges with his talent. Smith’s journey on “The Voice” began at blind auditions when all four judges turned around in their seats during his performance of Sia’s “Chandelier.” He then chose Adam Levine as his coach for the season. He has performed a variety of selections including Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain,” Sam Smith’s “Like I Can,” and Beyoncé’s “Halo.”
His rendition of the hymn “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” during week two of the live shows placed at No. 30 on The Billboard Hot 100, and was No. 1 on the Christian Songs chart for 2 weeks straight before Smith again entered at No.1 with his rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” Since the Hot Christian Songs chart launched in June 2003, Smith is the first artist to directly succeed himself at No. 1.
Smith joins a legacy of Lee students and alums to gain fame for their singing abilities. In May of 2015, alum Clark Beckham won runner-up on Fox’s show American Idol. In season 6 of American Idol, alum Phil Stacey placed sixth; and Chase Guyton and Jermaine Purifory advanced into Idol’s Hollywood rounds. The Voices of Lee, an a capella ensemble, finished third on NBC’s The Sing-Off in 2009.
The concept of The Voice is to find new talent in aspiring singers drawn from public auditions. The show’s format features five stages of competition: the first begins with the blind auditions, followed by the battle rounds, the knockouts, the live playoffs and finally, the live performance shows. Megastars Gwen Stefani, Pharrell Williams, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton serve as celebrity musician coaches, while Carson Daly hosts. This season’s winner receives $100,000 and a record deal with Universal Music Group.
Among a whirlwind of guest appearances, he is slated to be interviewed tomorrow (Thursday, Dec. 17) on NBC’s TODAY Show. The Lee family is proud of Jordan and looks forward to hearing of his continued success.