Lithonia’s R&B singer Trevin Hunte said he was mocked in high school, told by a teacher he had no future as a singer. At age 16, he attended an “American Idol” audition in New York. He didn’t get past the first round.
But he didn’t give up. About the time he graduated from Lithonia High School this past spring, he tried out for NBC’s third season of “The Voice,” with no more experience than singing at a high school talent show and the chorus. He’s never had formal vocal training. (Of the final four, he has by far the least experience in the music business. Favorite Cassadee Pope was in a pop-punk band that opened for Fall Out Boy and Yellowcard and Terry McDermott toured with a band called Driveblind, signed to A&M Records in 2003.)
Hunte, 18, who moved here from Queens, N.Y. in sixth grade, sang Beyonce’s “Listen” during the blind audition, getting an enthusiastic response from the judges. Three turned their chairs: Cee Lo Green, Christina Aguilera and Blake Shelton. He chose fellow metro Atlantan Cee Lo as his coach.
“I felt a real connection with him,” Hunte said. “He is a real genuine person. He’s very loyal. He’s been a great coach.”
Hunte has naturally good vocal instincts, though his stage presence isn’t quite as mannered or dynamic as his more experienced peers.
His taste in music is reflected in many of his bold song choices: “I Will Always Love You.” “When A Man Loves a Woman.” And last week’s impressive “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going.”
“I’ve always listened to Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Luther Vandross, that type of music,” he said. “I studied their styles and the way they performed. I’ve always been intrigued by that growing . That’s the reason I chose to sing these huge songs. Deep down, I feel I have each and every one of them inside me.”
Indeed, that last performance of that classic Jennifer Holliday song, he said.
“I felt great. I felt so free,” Hunte said. “I felt so confident. Me taking off my jacket, it felt like all the weight and heaviness from my past was taken off, too.”
He still lives in metro Atlanta but plans to move to Los Angeles to see if “The Voice” can superstart his career.
Does Hunte have a chance to win? Given the track record of the last two winners, I’m not sure how much that matters but at least making the final four should give him a realistic foot in the door if he can traverse the mine fields.
“The Voice,” NBC 8 p.m. Mondays, 8 p.m. Tuesdays
First Hollywood rounds begin tomorrow. MJ says groups have been split into two, possibly by gender. There has been no talk of going to Vegas.
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NBC’s “Smash” returns February starring Katharine McPhee and new recurring cast member Jennifer Hudson, , who is heavily featured in the trailer. And McPhee’s character gets a new love interest.
Season 8 winner Kris Allen releases a new Christmas EP on Monday via iTunes.
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