Jake Hoot is a boot-stompin’ country singer who has taken The Voice season 17 by storm this fall. His blind audition of “When It Rains It Pours” by Luke Combs earned him a spot on Kelly Clarkson’s team — and she paid him a huge compliment when she compared him to Ronnie Dunn of the famed country duo Brooks & Dunn.
In the Battle Round, Hoot took on Steve Knill and won on the Willie Nelson classic “Always On My Mind,” then he defeated Melinda Rodriguez in the Knockout Round on “Cover Me Up” by Michael Jason Isbell. During the live shows, Hoot has safely advanced each week, with his performance of “Danny’s Song” during the Top 13 and “Every Light In the House” during the Top 11 both earning the Apple Music vote because his songs had the most streams the night they were performed.
Here’s what you need to know about this potential breakout country star.
1. He’s from Tennessee
If Nashville is where Hoot is destined to be a performer, he won’t have to move very far to do it. He was born in Texas, but has lived in Tennessee for over a decade. He tells Becky Magura of local PBS affiliate WCTE that he’s made a home in the Cookeville area, which is about an hour east of Nashville, and the people there could not be more supportive.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to play in the Cookeville/Crossville/Smithville/Gainesboro [area] … I’ve been playing for about six-seven years. It’s been a fun road. Starting out I didn’t even have a pick-up and a guitar … it’s been an interesting ride, but it’s been a great one,” says Hoot.
He tells local Cookeville paper the Herald-Citizen that he’s so grateful for all the hometown support he’s been given.
“Most importantly, thank everyone so much for all the love and support. I love all y’all!” he tells the paper in an interview, adding, “Tell everyone you know to watch on Monday, and vote, vote, vote.”
2. Jake Grew Up Partially in the Dominican Republic
Hoot’s parents were Baptist church missionaries, so he and his eight siblings — Hoot is the second oldest — lived in Haiti and the Dominican Republic as children. As such, he speaks fluent Spanish and says that he thinks there’s a bit of island influence in his music.
“Growing up, I was always a huge fan of classic country and rock, but having lived in the Dominican, I think there’s a little bit of an island feel to my music as well,” says Hoot on his Facebook page.
And as an adult, Hoot has been active with missionary work as well. He recently posted to Instagram about his trip to Nicaragua that “truly changed [his] life.”
“A little over a year ago, I had the humbling honor of getting to visit Nicaragua on a missions trip!” he writes. “It truly changed my life getting to know so many great people, and learning so much about their culture! But I also saw so much need for so many things, that we take for granted every day. Food, clothes, roof over their heads, and most of all, the love of God. AND NOW, they are in desperate need of a bus that will help transport food to over 11,600 children DAILY! Please consider helping by praying, donating, or buying a bracelet!!”
3. He Played College Football
When Hoot auditioned for The Voice, coach Gwen Stefani remarked about how big he is — and then he revealed he’s 6’6″, “maybe an inch taller than Blake [Shelton].” It turns out he put that size to good use in college by playing football for Tennessee Tech University — and he had never played football before.
“[College football] was an eye-opening learning experience for me,” Hoot tells Magura. “I had never played before college. Coach Watson Brown was the head coach at the time and I asked if I could come in and try out and they gave me the opportunity. They had to repeat things to me about 50 times before I actually got a hold of what was going on, but Coach Brown is a very patient man to put up with me. I was actually able to earn a partial scholarship by the end of it, so it was a really cool experience. I was there for the championship year, so I was able to get a ring, so it’s been great.”
He also tells Magura that Tennessee Tech’s support during his run on The Voice has been incredible.
“Tech has gone above and beyond. They put me on that big jumbotron, which — I have to question their sanity, who would ever want my big face blown up that much?” Hoot says with a laugh. “And I got to sing the National Anthem at the game and I got to do the coin toss. I think was more nervous about the coin toss than I was singing the National Anthem. And I got to perform Lee Greenwood’s God Bless the USA at halftime, so that was really special.”
4. Jake is a Devoted Father
After getting divorced, Hoot is a newly-single father to 4-year-old Macy, whom he hopes to make so proud by following his dreams by auditioning for The Voice.
He tells Magura that his daughter and his girlfriend, who were seen rooting him on during the blind audition, are his biggest supporters.
“[My support group] has always been my family and my little girl and my girlfriend and her daughter. And the community here in Cookeville has always been great to me,” says Hoot.
5. His Faith is a Big Part of His Life
When asked what advice he would give up-and-coming artists, he says that his faith is the “primary thing in [his] life,” so he advises singers to “keep God first.” But then as an artist, Hoot says it’s important to have a good support system — which doesn’t necessarily mean people who always say nice things.
“Find out who you are as an artist. That takes a long time, it took me a long time to kind of hone that sound in and hone what kind of music and genre,” says Hoot. “But once you find it, stick to it and surround yourself with people who are going to support you and push you. Sometimes that comes from tough love and people being brutally honest, which is what you want.
“You don’t want someone who is always going to tell you, ‘You’re doing a great job!’ when you did a horrible job. You want that constructive criticism. Surround yourself with a great support group.”
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