A version of this story appears in Monday’s The Oklahoman.
Muskogee’s Swon Brothers continue their run on “The Voice”
Zach and Colton Swon are the first duo to make it the hit reality show’s live rounds, which begin Monday night on NBC.
The Muskogee duo survived last week’s knockout rounds on “The Voice” to move on to the hit reality TV show’s live rounds, the final phase of competition. While live shows begin at 7 p.m. Monday (tonight) on NBC, Zach and Colton Swon already are mindful of their future beyond “The Voice.”
“We just try to pick songs that we think will connect well the audience,” said Zach, 28, in a conference call last week. “You know, other than that, man, we just like to have fun. We don’t think about it too much. We just go with our gut most of the time and … going forward I think we’ll pick songs that will define us as artists. Because we’re thinking about the future, you know, and we want people to get a grasp on the kind of music we want to put out.”
The siblings are the first duo in the four-season history of “The Voice” to advance to the live shows. In last week’s knockout founds, their celebrity coach, Oklahoma country music superstar Blake Shelton, pitted The Swon Brothers against Memphis “bluntry” (blues-country) singer Grace Askew, who crooned the Ann Peebles/Tina Turner standard “I Can’t Stand the Rain” and earned kudos from the coaches for her originality.
As with the blind auditions and battle rounds, the Swons’ brotherly harmonies helped them win, this time with their tuneful rendition of the Dobie Gray classic “Drift Away.”
“What’s great about you guys is that it seems you both know your place in the duo, which is cool because that makes the duo really strong,” said rival coach Adam Levine.
Shelton agreed and opted to keep the fellow Oklahomans as one of his team’s four finalists.
“It’s really a scary thing to get satisfied in this competition. You know, it was really great to finally get some props from Adam, because we hadn’t received that yet,” said Colton, 24. “At the same time, we weren’t satisfied and we won’t be until we go home. Or we’re in that finale.”
“And that’s just the outlook you got to have on this thing. I mean, you can be here one day and gone the next. So you got take everything to heart, but at the same time keep building and growing as an artist. And never get too comfortable. And so, we’re doing our job, I think, as artists, growing our fan base.”
Big brother Blake
While they value the feedback they get from all four “The Voice” coaches, the Swon siblings said they especially enjoy being part of Team Blake. Shelton, whose team has won the past two seasons of the competition, is a “what you see is what you get” kind of guy who has genuinely invested in his four finalists, Zach said.
“We were definitely looking forward to getting more one-on-one time with Blake. And kind of “As we expected, he’s started acting more like a big brother. Even though we’re on the No. 1 TV show in America, he’s still just being really down-to-Earth and just being a good pal. And he’s letting us enjoy the moment. Like, that’s one thing he’s really taught us, especially in the one-on-one stuff, is just be yourself and enjoy this ride,” Colton added.
The singer/guitarists started performing with their parents’ southern gospel group Exodus when they were youngsters, so they are accustomed to making music live. They aren’t worried about the added pressure of playing in front of millions of TV viewers on “The Voice’s” live stage.
“When it comes to the actual music part of it, it’s going to be awesome, it’s going to be fun. The stuff that worries me is like falling off stage or something like that,” Zach said wryly. “But other than that, man, I’m ready to have a good time. And it’s going to be the funnest part of the show I think.”
“My brother is pretty clumsy, so I see where he’d worry about that,” Colton joked. “Other than that, bring on the live shows, we’re ready.”
Fans can expect to see them perform more songs that accent their teamwork and tight harmonies, they said.
“There’s no formula for picking songs for us right now,” Colton said. “We just go with our gut and pray about (it), and at the end of the day, you know, you’ve just got to have fun and connect with the audience.”
Bigger fan base
So far, the formula — or lack thereof — is working. After their knockout episode, Zach said many of their Twitter followers gushed that “Drift Away” was their favorite song. Their 6,400-plus “tweeple” and more than 7,600 Facebook fans they’ve garnered so far should come in handy during the live rounds, since public votes will begin to count in addition to Shelton’s choices.
“To have such great support and a fan base and just friends and family … and to see yourself on country charts — I mean, I think we’ve charted almost every time and it’s because of America and a big part of that is back home in Oklahoma,” Colton said. “It’s a really blessed feeling to know that they’re going to get behind us.”
While they can count on the Oklahoma vote, Zach said he hopes the rest of America will appreciate their music and character enough to cast ballots for them, too.
“I think we’re going to make a difference, you know, in the music industry. With or without ‘The Voice,’ this is what we’re going to do no matter what. So they might as well get used to us being around,” Zach said.
“I don’t think we’ll be everybody’s cup of tea, but hopefully we’ll be (for) enough to stick around, because we definitely aren’t done yet.”
The hit reality TV show “The Voice” begins its live rounds Monday night on NBC. The live shows will air from 7 to 9 p.m. Mondays and 7 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays. The winner will be announced in a live special on Tuesday, June 18.
Muskogee’s The Swon Brothers are the first duo to the series’ four-season history to advance to the live shows. They are competing on Team Blake, with Oklahoma country music superstar Blake Shelton as their celebrity coach.
For more information, go to www.nbc.com/the-voice.