A version of this story appears in Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman. To see video of The Swon Brothers’ battle round on “The Voice,” click here.
The Swon Brothers advance on “The Voice” thanks to prayer and brotherly harmony
On Monday’s episode, the Muskogee country-rockers Zach and Colton Swon became the first duo in the reality show’s four-season history to make it past the battle rounds.
Muskogee country-rockers Zach and Colton Swon credit plentiful prayer and brotherly harmony with helping them become the first duo in the four-season history of “The Voice” to win a battle round.
“Really, we don’t have any secrets or tips. But the main thing that we did before every battle is pray. We have relied on praying through this whole thing. And believe it or not, you know, it’s calmed our nerves. It’s got us through all the stress. And that is the God-honest truth,” Colton, 24, said in a conference call Tuesday afternoon.
On Monday’s pre-taped episode of the hit reality TV show, celebrity coach and Oklahoma country music superstar Blake Shelton picked The Swon Brothers over Pennsylvania bar singer Christian Porter in their battle round, which pits contestants from the same team in a kind of competitive duet.
In previous seasons, “The Voice” duos often faded into the role of background vocalists in the battles, making it difficult for them to advance past the ring. The Swon siblings said their long history of performing together helped them win the nerve-racking 90-second sing-off.
“Our parents made us sing together,” Zach, 28, said with a laugh. “We’re not the best duo that’s ever been on the show, I’m sure, but I think we are just so comfortable with each other, it really helps us when it comes to high-pressure situations, you know. And I know that I could not be on that stage without him, and I wouldn’t want to.”
In 2008, Colton made it solo into the top 48 on rival reality show “American Idol,” but he prefers singing with his sibling, too.
“I would think the edge that we have definitely comes from the harmony — just the brother harmony — because some of these battles kind of get stressful … and just having the other person to lean on during this whole thing, I think that’s a big, big advantage. Because if you’re going through this alone — I can’t imagine doing this alone. It would be pretty tough without my brother,” he said.
The singer/guitarists started performing with their parents’ southern gospel group Exodus when they were youngsters. After the episode aired, they took to their Facebook page to dedicate their battle round victory to “the good Lord and Boston,” asking their fans to pray for the city where two bombs exploded Monday near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
“Hopefully, they (‘The Voice’ viewers) find out that our main goal is to build relationships with people, not just to play music for them. So at the end of the day, that’s our goal is to love on people and just build friendships and relationships. Because without that, we wouldn’t have a career as artists,” Colton said.
At the outset of their battle round, Shelton seemed to give the brothers another big advantage: He assigned the Swons and Porter to duke it out musically over the Tom Petty classic “I Won’t Back Down.” During their blind audition, Zach and Colton performed another Petty anthem, “American Girl,” and got three coaches — Shelton, Usher and Shakira — to turn their big red chairs. The brothers stuck with their fellow Oklahoman and picked Team Blake.
“I think we were initially confident just because it’s kind of our style. But then again, it kind of made us more nervous too because it’d be like somebody beating us at our own game, you know, if he would’ve won,” Zach said.
“Christian came in and absolutely nailed the song. And when that started happening, the nerves started to rise in us,” Colton added.
When the battle was over, Shelton seemed to agonize over picking the winner, telling the brothers and Porter “I don’t know that either one of you took it away from each other.”
Ultimately, the Tishomingo resident gave the victory to the duo, with the high praise, “If you guys came on the radio, I would instantly know you were the Swon Brothers. You have a very distinctive sound.”
The brothers called winning the battle a confidence booster that will allow them to continue to learn from Shelton. But the war isn’t over: The Swons move on the knockout rounds, which begin airing April 29.
“It’s tough to see people leave. But you know, the less people (that) are here, the more time you get with your coach and the more personal it gets, and I think it’s going to shine through,” Zach said. “Blake’s an Oklahoma guy and we connect. So I’m anxious to see what happens.”
“The Voice” airs at 7 p.m. Mondays and Tuesday on NBC.