A version of this story appears in Monday’s Life section of The Oklahoman.
Swon Brothers celebrate ‘The Voice’ success with whirlwind homecoming
The duo, who are continuing their run into the semifinals of the hit reality TV show this week, returned to Muskogee Thursday to play a free show and receive the “Rising Star” award.
MUSKOGEE — After hearing the third proclamation in their honor, receiving the key to the city and accepting a surprise “Rising Star” award from the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame, Colton Swon couldn’t keep from shaking his head and his brother Zach couldn’t stop smiling.
After advancing into the Top 5 on the hit reality show “The Voice,” the musical duo The Swon Brothers returned, camera crew in tow, to their hometown of Muskogee Thursday for a whirlwind homecoming celebration.
“It’s so great to be home and playing. This is crazy, crazy, crazy, what’s going on,” said Colton, 24, from the stage of the packed Muskogee Civic Center Thursday night. “We just want to say thank you so much, we love all of you. This is so surreal.”
“We’re gonna show our gratitude the best way we know how,” added Zach, 28, as the brothers and their band kicked off an hourlong free concert with a rollicking rendition of Bon Jovi’s “Who Says You Can’t Go Home.”
As at least one homemade sign declared Thursday, the Swon siblings are already “Swinners” in their home state, regardless of how they fare in “The Voice” semifinals, airing live at 7 p.m. Monday and Tuesday on NBC.
Throughout the show’s third season, the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame in Muskogee has been hosting weekly “Swatch parties,” adopting the siblings’ playful habit of combining their last name with words. The hall is a natural venue for the parties, since the brothers used to work there.
About 100 friends and family members gathered inside Thursday afternoon to help surprise the singer/guitarists with the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame “Rising Star” award.
“You’ve done such a great job,” Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame President Jim Blair said. “We’ve had a great time watching you guys on ‘The Voice’ and even before ‘The Voice.”
The shocked delight was apparent on the brothers’ faces as Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame President Jim Blair pulled the trophy out of a box, recalling that he presented the same prize 10 years ago to Oklahoma country music star Blake Shelton, the duo’s coach on “The Voice.”
“Well, uh, dang it. We both said in the beginning of this whole process that no matter what, we were not gonna get caught all teary-eyed on the show,” Colton said, swiping away tears.
“I want to say thank you to each and every one of you sitting in this room. You guys, it’s nothing special you’re doing; it’s you guys. “You’ve blessed us beyond measure; you really have.”
He added that getting the award seemed so unreal “it feels like a prank.” The Swon siblings laughed in disbelief when video messages of congratulations from Oklahoma Music Hall of Famers Vince Gill and Roy Clark played.
“It means a lot to us. “I’m gonna have to get a mantel. I need somewhere to put this. And I think it’s gonna look really good and cool,” And I’m stunned and grateful,” Zach said. cracking up the audience.
“And I’m gonna tell all of you ‘Voice’ producers that I’m still not crying on camera. It hasn’t happened since July; it’s not gonna happen now.”
As the duo and their family rode in trolleys to the nearby civic center, they got a good look at About 4,000 screaming fans lined up outside the civic center to show their support and attend a free concert by the duo and their band.
About 500 fans had to be turned away since the civic center only seats 3,500, said Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame Executive Director Jermaine Mondaine.
“I can pretty much count on one hand the times they’ve packed this place out — and one time it was when they were giving away $10,000,” he said. “I love those boys. They’re literally like (my) little brothers.”
Mondaine joined them onstage to play a soulful saxophone solo on the duo’s original song “Other Than You.”
The Swon Brothers also performed some of “The Voice” covers that have already landed them high on the iTunes country charts — The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s “Fishin’ in the Dark,” George Jones’ “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes,” Darius Rucker’s “Wagon Wheel,” with Blair joining them on banjo — along with the popular hymn “The Old Rugged Cross,” a fiddle-free but still scorching version of the Charlie Daniels Band’s “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” and a surprising countrified take on Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream.”
Little girls stood on chairs, grandmas clapped along, and practically the whole crowd belted the familiar lyrics when the duo performed the Merle Haggard classic “Okie from Muskogee.”
In addition, Mayor Bob Coburn formally presented them with the key to the city, Muskogee County Commissioner Gene Wallace officially declared it June 9-13 Swon Brothers Week, and State Rep. Jerry McPeak read a proclamation signed by the governor deeming them “the greatest talent in America.”
Shelton even made an appearance via video to congratulate them on their “Rising Star” award and remind them “we’ve got a lot of work to do when you get back here.”
The duo’s homecoming celebration was a whirlwind affair, said their father, Kelly Swon. The pair departed Los Angeles late Wednesday night and had to leave Muskogee right after their concert. They had to get back to L.A. and into the studio Friday to record more songs for “The Voice” and the show’s weekly iTunes releases.
“But they’re excited, very excited to be there right now,” he said. “Not to be such a proud dad, but I thought they had a shot ‘cause to me they are the total package. … You don’t find very many brother duos that play, write, sing and do everything.”
Although some may consider the duo an overnight success story, he said Zach started making music at age 2 on a set of Mickey Mouse drums.
They haven’t had much talent show experience before “The Voice,” he said, but on one memorable occasion, they were runner-ups to another Oklahoma native they now can call a fellow “Rising Star” award winner.
“Of course, that’s Carrie Underwood. That’s pretty good if Carrie beats you,” Kelly Swon said with a laugh. “So that don’t hurt their feelings too bad.”