By Bob Zientara
For at least the time being, Barron resident Chris Kroeze, the local singer and guitar player who has captured the imagination of thousands of area music fans, will live in Los Angeles.
Kroeze was rescued by his coach, country star Blake Shelton, after “losing” the “knockout round” of competition Monday night, Nov. 5, 2018, on the NBC TV series “The Voice.” Shelton tossed a coin before naming Michael Lee, a fellow Team Blake member, as the winner of the round.
“I couldn’t be happier for them both and happy I held onto my save so they could go on to the (live competition),” Shelton said at the end of the taped broadcast.
Kroeze, like his fans, is delighted.
“We did our first rehearsal for the live rounds yesterday,” he said in an early-morning interview Tuesday, Nov. 6, from his Los Angeles hotel. “Today we’ll be working on the wardrobe, and then we’ll be in rehearsals again all week.”
Kroeze and Lee matched one another note for note Monday evening, the Barron musician singing the 2015 breakout country hit “Burning House,” by Cam. Lee followed with the Allman Brothers’ “Whipping Post.”
For Kroeze, it was his first chance to sing a country song in three appearances on “The Voice.”
“I don’t know what it is about that song,” he said Tuesday morning. “There’s a lot of emotion in it. It’s a song you can perform with a full band, or with just an acoustic guitar around a campfire. I think that’s what makes a song great, that it can live in both those worlds.”
During Monday’s program, Kroeze said he “grew up on country music. My dad had tapes of Merle Haggard, and Patsy Cline, and Hank Williams.”
He said he was looking forward to performing in a music form where he is at home.
At least three of the “coaches” loved the song, too. Jennifer Hudson, Adam Levine and Shelton all gave the performance a thumbs-up. Kelly Clarkson said she would award her choice to Lee.
Shelton, who had to make the final choice, pulled a quarter out of his pocket, said Lee had won the knockout, then kept Kroeze’s hopes alive with the final “save” of the round.
“There are 24 people left,” Kroeze said Tuesday. “After the first (series of live performances), it’s going to be cut in half to 12.”
The “lives” are the first chance for the general public to become part of the process of choosing the winner of “The Voice.”
“People have got to vote,” Kroeze said. “Download The Voice app for the Android phone or iPhone, or go to “The Voice” website, or go to my web pages.”