From the first opening lines of the traditional ballad, “Man of Constant Sorrow”, two of the judges of The Voice, Adam Levine and Pharrell Williams, slammed their buzzers and turned their chairs. The other two, Christina Aguilera and Blake Shelton, took a few seconds longer, but this enthusiasm and quick recognition of talent was unparallelled in the history of The Voice.
There, on the stage, was a mere kid – all of fifteen years old – with long hair and a hat. Not a Pharrell hat, just a Sawyer kind of hat. His voice is richly nuanced, a melodious, unpretentious sound that none of the competitors had. It has a raw raspiness at times, and at others a timbre in which touches the heart. This kid was born to be himself, he can never emulate any other singer.
This is his appeal: fresh faced, beguiling blue eyes, a kid who is thoroughly unspoiled by societal perceptions of what is currently en vogue. He is a throwback to another time, and he gracefully and powerfully bridged the gap between generations. His choice of music was definitely a huge contributing factor in this.
He played a Neil Young song, “Old Man” in the finale, and every Baby Boomer knows that song by heart. It was an anthem to an even older generation, and it was a perfect rendition of what is pretty much a rock classic now. Neil Young, I’m sure, must have loved it.
It was a relief to hear someone who has genuine talent, and not a mere imitator of songs. He puts his own stamp on everything he sings, and is also an accomplished guitarist.
He sang “Summer Breeze” with Pharrell, and stole the show. Pharrell has a different style, but Sawyer’s voice soared. It was my least favorite of his performances, largely because of Pharrell’s voice which felt like a mismatch. However, it proved that the kid can sing pop as well as the more thoughtful lyrics we have come to associate with Sawyer.
The runner up, Meghan Linsey, has a powerful voice, suited to cruise ships and bar mitzvahs. She lacks the crucial connection with the current younger generation who are hungry for something different than a belt-out-till-your-guts-drop-out performer. Yes, there, in that word is the difference: she is a performer.
Sawyer is an artist.