Fort Mill man’s rockin’ audition grabs attention of three judges on ‘The Voice’

THE VOICE -- “Blind Auditions” Episode 1701 -- Pictured: Jake Haldenvang -- (Photo by: Justin Lubin/NBC)
THE VOICE -- “Blind Auditions” Episode 1701 -- Pictured: Jake Haldenvang -- (Photo by: Justin Lubin/NBC) Justin Lubin/NBC

Jake HaldenVang of Fort Mill is used to pre-performance jitters. But when he stepped on stage for his blind audition on NBC’s “The Voice,” it was different, he said.

“It’s mad how super pressurized it is,” HaldenVang, 24, said. “My nerves were definitely kicking in as soon as I stepped in front of that audience and those judges.”

On Monday night’s episode of the NBC music competition show, HaldenVang performed “Wish I Knew You” by The Revivalists.

“When I started playing, I just felt this overwhelming support from the audience,” he said. “And I just immediately felt really comfortable after a few seconds.”

Almost instantly, he grabbed the attention of three judges: Blake Shelton, John Legend and Gwen Stefani.

“Thank you for rocking,” Blake Shelton said.

John Legend told him “You rocked it tonight.”

HaldenVang, a Fort Mill High School graduate, started playing music when he was 11. He started performing in Fort Mill restaurants, such as the since relocated McHale’s Irish Pub.

“That’s where I met a lot of longtime friends,” HaldenVang said. “And a lot of people that you see rooting me on on Facebook and stuff, they were watching me as like the 12- and 13-year-old kid with a big guitar strapped to his back.”

HaldenVang said his family influenced his interest in music. He said songs by AC/DC and other rock bands were always playing at his house growing up.

“There’s like footage out there of me being like two years old, and I think I was holding a golf club,” he said. “And I was watching U2’s ‘Rattle and Hum’ DVD. It was like a live concert. You can watch me just pretending to play The Edge’s guitar skills and I was trying to imitate Bono’s singing.”

In middle school, HaldenVang started a blues-rock band with his dad. By the time he was 13, he was traveling the East Coast performing. He went solo at 16.

He said he owes his musical style to his hometown area.

“I was called to musical expression that stems from the South,” he said. “It’s the birthplace of American music in more ways than not. I was kind of musically bred here. It was blues and soul and R&B, and stuff that originally called to me.”

In the end, HaldenVang chose to join Stefani’s team. He said her songs influenced his musical style.

“I think part of why I auditioned for ‘The Voice’ was that she was going to be there,” he said.

The Voice” airs on NBC at 8 p.m. Mondays and Tuesday. The four-time Emmy Award-winning singing competition show is in Season 17. There are five stages of competition: Blind Auditions, Battle Rounds, Knockouts, Playoffs and Live Performance Shows, according to NBC.

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Cailyn Derickson is a city government and politics reporter for The Herald, covering York, Chester and Lancaster counties. Cailyn graduated from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has previously worked at The Pilot and The News and Observer.