Since his debut on NBC’s The Voice aired on September 20, Bryce Leatherwood has delighted viewers (and an ever-growing fanbase) with his authentic country sound and southern gentleman persona. In one of his first interactions with Grammy-award-winning coach Gwen Stefani, he responded with “Thank you so much, Mrs. Shelton,” a nod to her marriage to fellow coach Blake Shelton.
Following his chair-turning Blind Audition performance of “Goodbye Time,” Bryce advanced to the Battle round of season twenty-two with Blake Shelton as his coach. This season has since been announced the coach’s penultimate season of The Voice as he plans to leave the show following season twenty-three, slated to premiere in March 2023 with returning coach Kelly Clarkson and new coaches Chance The Rapper and Niall Horan.
The first elimination rounds in season twenty-two of The Voice were based on the superstar coaches’ selections and often strategic plays. In the Battle Round, Bryce was partnered with Nashville-based duo The Dryes to perform Brooks & Dunn’s chart-topper “Red Dirt Road.” The performance got off to a rocky start due to reported in-ear monitor problems; however, the performers were praised for their ability to adapt and recover as the song progressed. Following coach Camila Cabello‘s comments on the performance in which she noted that Bryce shined, he took a moment to acknowledge his competitors, saying “These guys are incredible, it has been nothing but a pleasure to work with [them].”
Bryce was ultimately declared the winner of the Battle by coach Blake Shelton, who compared the twenty-two-year-old singer to a young George Strait. Bryce became emotional backstage after his win and said, “I’m just happy Blake saw the light in me.”
Blake then used his only Save for the round to keep The Dryes in the competition as well. Of his decision, Blake shared, “If there’s anything I can do to give someone a second chance, then I’m gonna do that. And that’s why I used my Save.” When his fellow performers were saved from elimination, an emotional Bryce celebrated backstage and cheered for the husband-and-wife duo.
The Dryes—Katelyn and Derek—were eliminated in a following episode during the Knockout round of the competition. They later shared video footage of the “Red Dirt Road” performance and a behind-the-scenes photo with Bryce on social media and called him a “class act” and “the kindest soul.” Bryce responded with a comment reading “I love you guys more than words can describe! It’s not just the journey, it’s the people you meet along the way.”
In the first three-way Knockouts in the show’s twenty-two season history, Bryce was matched with pop singer Kate Kalvach and country musician Jay Allen. Bryce was the first of the trio to perform with his take on Zac Brown Band’s “Colder Weather,” a song that showcased Bryce’s warm tone and lower register. In TVLine.com’s episode recap, Bryce’s performance was rated the best of the night with 40 percent of the poll votes (as of November 15, 2022).
Kate later took the stage with a strong rendition of Justin Bieber’s “Anyone,” but Jay’s performance of “Prayed for You” by Matt Stell hit a stumbling block when the singer was overcome with emotion and missed several words in the song.
Coach Blake Shelton talked through his decision-making process and strategy before announcing Bryce as the winner of the Knockout round. Fellow coaches John Legend and Camila Cabello then attempted to use their Steal options to save Kate from being eliminated. Kate moved to Team Camila and advanced to the Live Shows alongside Bryce and fourteen other contestants who successfully navigated the first three rounds of the season.
The Live Show
The first live performance show of season twenty-two aired on NBC last night with all sixteen acts—four competitors on each team—performing in hopes of winning audience votes. John Legend’s team opened the show with performances from Omar Jose Cardona, Kim Cruse, Parijita Bastola, and eighteen-year-old Sasha Hurtado from nearby Dallas, Georgia, who sang Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer.”
Team Gwen followed with performances by Kique, Kevin Hawkins, Alyssa Witrado, and Justin Aaron. Camila’s team then came out with strong performances by Devix and Eric Who, of Grovetown, Georgia, and by the ladies on the team, Morgan Myles and Kate Kalvach.
Blake’s team rounded out the night of live performances with Bryce taking country back to the nineties and performing “I’m Gonna Be Somebody” by CMA- and Grammy-Award-winning artist Travis Tritt.
The song tells the story of aspiring musician Bobby who perseveres and finds success in the music industry after years of dedication and hard work. It’s easy to compare Bryce’s journey to the ambitious Bobby in the lyrics, as well as a young Travis Tritt, whom childhood friends recall putting in years of hard work and effort on his road to success in the music industry. Marietta-born Tritt has special ties to Cherokee County as well; he first charted on local radio station WCHK 105.1 FM, now WLJA 101.1 FM.
In a video introduction aired just before his performance, Bryce could be seen surrounded by his family, including parents Hope and Cliff Leatherwood and grandfather Jimmy McCallum with whom Bryce shares a special bond. In the footage, Bryce dedicated his performance to his supportive family and community, saying “This is for all my family, my mom, my dad, my grandparents, everyone back home.”
Back home, MadLife Stage and Studios founders Mike and Kerrie Levi opened their doors to the Leatherwood family for a private screening of The Voice projected on the big screen. MadLife, a staple of Downtown Woodstock, played a significant role in the early stages of Bryce’s performing career and was the site of his first ticketed (and sold out) show in May, less than two weeks before he took The Voice stage for the first time.
On the night of the Live Shows, Bryce’s family, friends, and supporters packed the standing-room only venue to watch the episode. Before the episode began, Bryce’s parents Hope and Cliff spoke to the excited audience and thanked them for their love and support for Bryce. They then shared a backstage video from Bryce addressing the crowd. Bryce expressed his love for his MadLife family and Woodstock community and, ever the gentleman, thanked “Mr. Mike and Mrs. Kerrie” for making the viewing event possible.
Hope and Cliff then expressed their gratitude for the community’s support and especially thanked those who prayed for Bryce as he embarked on his journey to The Voice. Local pastor and longtime family friend Banks Brazell joined Hope and Cliff on stage and led the audience in a heartfelt prayer for Bryce as he continues in the competition. Banks shared that he’s known Bryce from day one, quite literally, as his son Daniel was born on the same day and in the same hospital as Bryce.
Like many locals who know and love the Leatherwood family and have watched sons Bryce and Lance grow up, Banks is proud of Bryce’s accomplishments and especially proud of him for maintaining his down-to-earth personality. Even coach Blake Shelton introduced Bryce as his “right down the middle, authentic country superstar.”
Authentic is a word you’ll hear often when you meet someone who knows Bryce. Other words that come up often when describing Bryce are polite, kind, blessed, genuine, and “the real deal.” Longtime friend of the Leatherwood family Alan Lee perhaps described Bryce best in saying,
“He’s always had a humble swagger.”
Alan also attributed much of Bryce’s success to his strong Christian foundation and supportive family.
Alan and wife Jennifer reminisced on watching Bryce grow up, from a little boy whom their daughter babysat to a confident eleven-year-old who performed Darius Rucker’s “Wagon Wheel” accompanied by his ukulele during his former babysitter’s graduation party, and now a talented and humble performer on a national stage in front of millions.
Like Alan and Jennifer, Bryce’s former wrestling coach Chuck Childress attested to Bryce’s humble spirit and authenticity, declaring “the person that you see on TV now is [who] you see when you meet him.”
“Stepping Out on Faith”
A proud Coach Childress also commended Bryce’s work ethic and determination to pursue his musical dreams. He says it’s “pretty humbling that one of your own is actually stepping out on faith and being able to do this.”
During a recent trip home Bryce surprised his former coach with a visit on the first day of Sequoyah High’s wrestling practice for this season. Coach Childress laughs as he recalls Bryce sneaking in behind him and placing the coach in a playful headlock.
Bryce’s alma mater is also proud of the Class of 2018 graduate as Coach Childress explains Bryce has “the full support of the administration here, and he’s got the full support of the Hickory Flat family and all around.”
Tune in Tonight
Tonight at 8:00 p.m. on NBC, the current crop of sixteen competitors will be narrowed down to thirteen. During the live results show, viewers can vote on The Voice official app to save one competitor from elimination. Next week the top thirteen artists will perform live again for a chance to get one step closer to the season finale on Tuesday, December 13.
Watch NBC’s The Voice on Monday and Tuesday nights at 8:00 p.m. to cheer for Bryce and vote on The Voice official app available through Google Play and the App Store. Follow Bryce on Facebook and Instagram for show updates and behind-the-scenes sneak peeks. Learn more about The Voice at NBC.com.
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Jaye and her family moved to Cherokee County in 2021 and have embraced the charming community that now feels like home. In addition to being managing editor for the magazine, she is also a freelance resume writer and graphic designer, and was editor of her school newspaper, The Blueprint.