Chris Kroeze, a Wisconsin native who cemented his place in the season 15 finale of The Voice, is one of four finalists competing for the top spot after surviving multiple elimination rounds. He is the first Wisconsin resident to advance to the finals on the show.
Kroeze, 27, blew the judges out of the water with his performance of Marshall Tucker Band’s “Can’t You See.” Kroeze’s raspy vocals, combined with his “country rocker” vibe, has won the hearts of thousands across the country, and Wisconsin is rooting for him to be the season 15 winner, and first ever Wisconsinite to win The Voice.
Kroeze started playing guitar at the age of six, began singing in middle school, and has continued to pursue his dream of being a musician well into his 20’s. Here’s what you need to know about Kroeze:
1. Kroeze Had an Opportunity to Record a Song in Dierks Bentley’s Studio & Travels Across Seas to Play for the Troops in the Middle East
When Kroeze was just 6-years-old, his parents bought him his first guitar as an “outlet for his energy,” according to NBC. Once he hit middle school, his dad encouraged him to start singing, and by the time he finished college, he knew he needed to head to Nashville to further his career.
According to NBC, his family put together a fundraiser in their small town to help raise the money for Kroeze to pursue his dream. Once he made it to Nashville, he met a group of people who helped him get the chance to record a song at Dierks Bentley’s studio, with the support of some of Bentley’s band.
After leaving Nashville, he headed back home to Wisconsin, where he plays more than 200 gigs a year, and occasionally travels overseas to play for the troops in the Middle East.
2. Kroeze Dedicated a Song to Jayme Closs, a Teenager Who Was Abducted From His Hometown in Wisconsin
Kroeze hails from Barron, Wisconsin, a tiny town of three thousand people. Although Wisconsinites across the state are rallying behind Kroeze and are crossing their fingers for a Wisconsin win, Kroeze left his rural community to audition for The Voice shortly before tragedy struck his small hometown.
In the early morning of October 15, Barron was turned upside down when a family was brutally murdered in their own home and a 13-year-old girl went missing. Jayme Closs was abducted from her home after both of her parents were shot and killed, leading to an ongoing nationwide manhunt for the person responsible.
Kroeze, who was just as affected by the news as the rest of his small community, dedicated a song to Jayme Closs, performing the Beatles hit “Let it Be” with a message of hope, perseverance and the determination to never give up on finding Closs.
“This dedication song has a good message of hope,” said Kroeze. “My hometown has been through a lot lately, there was an abduction of a 13-year-old girl from Barron. Her name is Jayme Closs. She still hasn’t been found. It’s just unsettling you know it doesn’t happen there. This is for Barron.”
3. He Classifies His Music as Country, Southern Rock & Blues, But Plays a Little Bit of Everything at His Shows
Kroeze auditioned with Stevie Ray Vaughn’s “Pride and Joy,” which prompted quick chair turns from Blake Shelton and Jennifer Hudson. Blake called his singing “electrifying,” and he decided to join Team Blake.
“I think Blake’s a good fit for me,” Kroeze said in an interview with Media Hub. “I love country music. I mean, there’s no denying that. And even if I don’t play a lot of Blake’s music at my shows — I do one or two of his songs — I just think we have a lot of the same influences. The stuff I listen to — the founders of country music — I have a strong suspicion those guys were big influences on Blake as well.”
Kroeze classifies his music as country, blues and southern rock on his Facebook page. However, he told Media Hub that he also plays a wide variety of music when he performs at his shows, including the likes of Hank Williams and Patsy Cline to Led Zeppelin and Bon Jovi, with a little bit of Chris Stapleton and Luke Bryan thrown in the mix.
4. Kroeze Has Been the Most Streamed Artist of The Voice Competitors on Apple Music Over The Last Few Weeks
Many of Kroeze’s fans have renewed hope for a Wisconsin win since, over the last two weeks, he’s been the most streamed artist of The Voice competitors on Apple Music. He also has the highest Facebook following of all the finalists, by far.
According to Gold Derby, his emotional rendition of “Let if Be” for Closs reached #56 on the iTunes chart, and was followed by his performance of “Long Train Runnin'” at #21. However, in the last two weeks, his renditions of “Callin’ Baton Rouge” and “Can’t You See” were both the top-streamed singles on Apple Music among The Voice contestants. He even earned the bonus 5x multiplier the last two weeks heading into the finale, according to the Gold Derby.
Due to his rising popularity on iTunes, combined with his growing social media presence, fans of Kroeze are crossing their fingers that he makes it to the end.
5. Many Wisconsin Towns are Celebrating “Chris Kroeze Day” to Honor the Wisconsin Native as He Heads to the Finals
Small towns across the state of Wisconsin are celebrating Kroeze making his way to the finals on The Voice, with some even rocking fake beards, backwards baseball caps and flannel shirts.
At least 40 schools in Wisconsin are celebrating “Chris Kroeze Day” today, according to Kroeze’s manager and plenty of social media posts, with small schools putting on special rallies to show support for their favorite contestant.
“Thanks Chris Kroeze for inspiring small town kids to follow their dreams,” tweeted Elk Mound Schools, along with a video of children cheering on Kroeze.
A Wisconsin mother posted a video of her 5-year-old son impersonating Kroeze, complete with fake beard, long blonde wig and flannel shirt. Other organizations, schools, businesses and fans across the state have been flooding social media with supportive messages for Kroeze, many including the hashtag #SmallTownProud and #SmallTownStrong.
On tonight’s episode, Kroeze will perform three songs: a cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd classic “Sweet Home Alabama,” a duet of Emmylou Harris’ “Two More Bottles of Wine” with Shelton, and an original song, “Human.”
The Voice airs tonight at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC when the Top 4 take the stage in a battle to win the title and a recording contract.