Photo: Brian Armas / Lightfly Creative
UPDATE: Baber placed third in the finale on Tuesday evening.
Local musician and former Fayetteville High School teacher Barrett Baber has outlasted thousands of contestants on NBC’s The Voice.
Now, he just needs to make it past three more singers to become the winner of the competition’s 9th season.
And just as he has since the competition began, Baber is repping Arkansas all the way to the finale.
Baber last week advanced into the final four contestants on the show, along with Jeffery Austin, Emily Ann Roberts, and Jordan Smith. The final rounds of performances begin tonight (Dec. 14) on NBC.
Of the four finalists, prediction site Gold Derby is giving Baber the longest odds of winning the competition. The site, which attempts to predict the winners of several awards shows and reality TV shows, has pegged Baber as the least likely to win the competition at 100/1. According to the site, Smith is a 4/1 favorite to win, followed by Austin (11/2), and Roberts (20/1).
Baber’s age could be one of the reasons for the long odds. The music industry is famously a young man’s game, and at 35, he is the only contestant from the top 12 over 30 years old. He’s also the only married contestant, and the only contestant with children.
Baber said he thinks his experience playing gigs and working a real job for all these years, however, is actually one of his biggest advantages over the competition.
“I think life experience has a lot to do with my ability to connect with a song, connect with a lyric, and connect with an audience” Baber told Yahoo Music in an interview over the weekend.
Voting for Barrett Baber
What the naysayers are also not counting on, Baber says, is the power of the collective pride of the state of Arkansas to help propel him to victory.
“Barrett believed he could make it to the end from the very beginning for two reasons,” said Amanda Scarlet, who is helping to handle publicity for Baber through the competition. “He knew he would work as hard has he had to, and he knew with the people of Arkansas voting, he had a very strong team in place.”
His confidence in the Arkansas connection is not unfounded.
As Kevin Kinder pointed out in his November piece about Baber, voters from the state helped Baber earn a Grammy gig in early 2014 through online popular vote, and also buoyed central Arkansas native Kris Allen to a victory on “American Idol” in 2009.
Baber will continue to play to his Arkansas connection with his performances this week.
He will sing four songs in this round of the competition, including a duet with his coach Blake Shelton on fellow Arkansan and legendary country artist Glen Campbell’s hit, Rhinestone Cowboy.
Baber told Yahoo Music that he pitched the idea to sing Campbell’s song as a tribute to the home state star. Earlier in the season, he sang a song by another country legend from Arkansas, when he performed Conway Twitty’s I’d Love to Lay You Down.
He has also mentioned the late Levon Helm of The Band, another native Arkansan he once traveled to Woodstock to meet, as one of the most prominent musical influences of his unique country soul sound.
None of this Arkansas love should come as a surprise from the guy who co-wrote the winning song in the “Song of Arkansas” competition last year, and who started his first appearance on the show by calling the Hogs.
After this week, we’ll know if Baber is right about the power of his home state to help him win the show and the recording contract with Universal Music that comes with it.
The Voice finale airs Monday and Tuesday night (Dec. 14-15) at 7 p.m.