Luke Combs is arguably the biggest thing in country music. He’s releasing hit song after hit song, he’s currently taking aim at Alabama’s consecutive #1 singles record, selling out stadiums across the country, and across the world as well… there’s only a few others even in the conversation (Morgan Wallen, Zach Bryan).
But back before Luke Combs turned out the turbo jets for what’s become a record-breaking career already, he actually auditioned for The Voice. And while these reality show singing competitions can be mildly entertaining, they’ve really failed to produce big stars relative to the number of artists that roll through them. Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson were both American Idol winners and have gone on to be mega-successful, but The Voice hasn’t created a single superstar in over a decade of pumping out “winners.”
It’s actually been quite the opposite… artists who exited early have gone on to be more successful. Morgan Wallen had a stint on The Voice, and is now a certified superstar, Miranda Lambert (finished 3rd) and Kacey Musgraves (finished 7th) were both on Nashville Star, both superstars… and then some folks couldn’t even make it on the auditions.
Luke Combs is arguably the most insane story… he was actually rejected from The Voice, but the reason why might make you fall out of your chair.
“I was on spring break a few years ago when ‘The Voice’ was having auditions in Atlanta, Georgia. In my audition round I was the only guy and you get about thirty seconds to sing. I made it to the next round that was at a studio, and then made it to the next cut.
They had four audition cities and narrowed it from about 10,000 to 200 people. Then you don’t know if you made it to the show for a few months.
I made it through those rounds with the producers, but I got a letter saying I wasn’t “interesting” enough for the show’s ratings so I didn’t get to the show. But it gave me a lot of confidence because I was good enough voice wise to make it through all those producer auditions.”
Are you kidding me? Unfortunately, it really went down that way.
Although for Luke, it may have been a blessing in disguise…
Not “Interesting” Enough
Obviously, Blake Shelton was a judge on The Voice from the very beginning, and props to him for usually going after the country talent, and helping them after the show ends. However, he was recently asked in a radio interview about that Luke Combs rejection, and he didn’t mince words…
“He told me that story… there’s no way around it, it’s embarrassing. Let’s just face it.
Luke told me that he kept his rejection letter, his letter saying we’re not gonna put you on the show. He said he put that in his dorm room in college and he hung it on the wall to push him on, something to fight for.
I don’t know if he still has that letter or not, but if he does … I think he should frame it and put it next to his first triple-platinum album that he has.”
A nice reminder to keep fighting, hustling, and grinding.
Here’s Luke talking about the rejection, and Blake:
I suppose the rest is history, but the rejection forced Luke to grind it out even harder to earn his way in the door. And like most great country music artists, he didn’t get his start on a game show, he got it playing college bars, earning fans night in and night out. When he started putting out his own EPs, he already had people lining up to buy them.
And we happen to have a video from back in his college days, back when Luke Combs covered “Simple Man” at Town Tavern in Boone, North Carolina.
Good thing that Voice thing didn’t work out.
Luke “Didn’t Look The Part”
A while back, Luke Combs joined Scott Van Pelt’s podcast SVPod, and while they got to talking about sports, music, gambling and everything under the sun, one part that caught my eye (and cracked me up) was when Luke got to talking about signing a record deal.
Long story short, Luke had just moved to town and was writing with friends and folks he’d met around town, playing showcases and writer’s rounds… you know, the kind of thing you do when you get to Nashville. But a lot of people (record execs and industry folks) told Luke that he was destined to only be a songwriter for these bigger artists because he didn’t “look the part.”
And here was Luke’s brilliantly honest (and hilarious) response:
“We’re talking about COUNTRY music here… if anybody looks the part, it’s me. The OTHER guys don’t look the part, that’s the problem. I’m not the guy that’s the problem here.
Throw these other guys at the Jiffy Lube, they’re gonna look outta place. You put me at the Jiffy Lube and you’re gonna think I manage the son of a b-tch.”
Can I get an amen?
But by all means, keep pumping these copycat pretty boys out of the Nashville music machine….
Meanwhile, Luke Combs is busy racking up hit after hit after hit, and oh yeah… a nice little Entertainer of the Year award to go with it.