Whether he was popping across the stage in syncopated beat to Janet Jackson's "Rhythm Nation" or belting out an emotional rendition of "Take Me to the King," The Voice contestant Chris Blue made winning Season 12 of the hit singing series look effortless. But Blue's easy charm belies the truth: Getting to this point took a metric ton of perseverance.
When we hopped on a call with the 27-year-old Knoxville native shortly after the finale, Blue sounded elated and exhausted in equal measure — this was a day that he had long dreamed of.
"I jokingly say there's marks all over my body from the pinches," Blue told us, "because I can't believe we are actually here in this moment, and it's real. It's not a dream. It's real."
Looking back at the beginning of Blue's time on The Voice, it's no wonder the experience feels surreal. When he took the stage during the Blinds, he was down to one saving grace: Alicia Keys. Fellow coaches Blake Shelton, Gwen Stefani and Adam Levine had famously already filled their teams.
And so the fairy-tale trajectory of Chris Blue was set into motion — from the last contestant with the smallest statistical chance of getting on the show to the literal last man standing.
As far as staying grounded goes, though, it seems safe to say you don't have to worry about this guy.
In addition to his fiancée (whose bone cancer is in remission!), Blue may just bring a few people along for the ride who are sure to help him keep his feet on the ground. Who? Why, his siblings and former Blues Brothers bandmates, of course.
"Those guys are phenomenal. I mean, incredible musicians and hard workers," he gushed. "Plus, you know, we're family. Those are people I love and trust, so if they want to come, come on!"
Humble as ever, Blue is quick to praise the work ethic of others without mentioning his own. But his mentor, radio host Hallerin Hilton Hill, has made it clear that Blue's win wasn't made possible by luck or even talent alone.
Blue is the epitome of the blood, sweat and tears idiom.
"For the Blinds, that was weeks and weeks of preparation for a minute and a half," the singer revealed. "I really feel like [Hill] has helped me buy into the notion that hard work... that's where it pays off. Behind the scenes, when no one is looking."
When his fiancée gave him the final push he needed to audition for the show, Blue approached it with his trademark dedication, saying, "For me, I felt like if we were going to do it, we had to do it. I changed my diet, I made sure I went to my dance classes, I worked out daily. I needed to make sure I could not get in the way. I didn't want to be on stage and start moving and run out of breath because I'm tired. Because that means I'm not free to be in the moment. I would be thinking, 'Ooh, I have to catch my breath to sing this next note.' Just making sure that I'm out of the way so that God can completely be filtered through me."
Speaking with Blue, it's easy to see that faith is an important motif in his personal and professional lives — it sits right under the surface, bubbling up any time you ask about his influences.
Blue credits faith with bringing him to this point, and not just his own. He's been propelled forward in his life by the faith his mother has always had in his voice, the faith his fiancée put in their love, the faith his church family entrusted in him and, on the show, the faith Keys showed him.
"I tell people this all the time: Faith is not important. It's essential," he said. "It must be there, or else this doesn't happen. This doesn't work. Worship in the morning is the breakfast of champions, so every morning I have to make sure I take time out for God. 'Cause we wouldn't be here without him, and I recognize that."
Perhaps it's this faith that breeds such unshakable optimism in Blue, which will undoubtedly impact the sound he settles on.
"The way it sounds to me isn't as important to me as the reaction when people hear the song. I want to continue to inspire and motivate and build up courage in people. I want to give hope. That's the most important thing to me," he shared. "I love the way 'Money on You' feels, so it may sound similar. Then again, I may throw another song in there that you didn't expect. You just gotta stay tuned."
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