Before Andrew Jannakos stepped onto the stage for his blind audition on “The Voice,” he crouched down to pray. That’s the last thing he remembers and everything since then has felt like a dream.
“I cannot recall a single thing,” Jannakos, 25, said as he sat back in a chair at Main Street Market in Gainesville. “I like, blacked out … everything else after that, I couldn’t tell you. It was just such a surreal experience.”
The show, which premiered Monday, Feb. 25, on NBC, puts contestants on stage while Blake Shelton, Kelly Clarkson, Adam Levine and John Legend listen to them sing — they’re sitting in chairs with their backs facing the contestants in order to hear their voices alone.
If they like what they hear, they press a button that turns their chair around and the contestant gets to choose which artist’s team they want to be on for the rest of the season.
Viewers will have to wait and see if any of the celebrity musicians turned their chairs once they heard Jannakos sing; details about the show are kept under wraps.
But if he’s picked, Jannakos moves on to compete against the other contestants who clear the blind auditions.
“It’s been an incredible experience,” Jannakos said.
He hasn’t always been comfortable singing in front of others. Jannakos didn’t think he had a good voice, and he doubted himself as he was growing up.
But singing has always been a part of his life, even if not in front of a crowd.
His mother, Kim, says he used to sing simple songs like “Jesus Loves You” in perfect pitch. A few years later, he was singing Shania Twain in the back seat of the car with his neighbor as they made their way to elementary school.
“I’ve always had like a lot of insecurities when it comes to my music,” Jannakos said. “I think everybody does just because you hear other people and you’re like, ‘Dang, I can’t go anywhere near the level that they’re at.’”
It wasn’t until he graduated from Flowery Branch High School and connected with an old acquaintance that his confidence began to grow.
Keltin DeVoe and Jannakos started hanging out and became close friends, bonding over DeVoe’s love of fashion and Jannakos’ love of music shortly after a tough time in DeVoe’s life.
DeVoe, 24, had a stroke caused by an abnormal connection of blood vessels in his brain, putting him through three brain surgeries and more than a year recovering at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta.
During his recovery, he had become better friends with Jannakos, who he had known in passing.
He emerged from the hospital with a new outlook on life, knowing that after coming so close to death, he had to push Jannakos to pursue his talents with music. And when he heard Jannakos sing “Beautiful Crazy” by Luke Combs, he said there was no doubt in his mind that Jannakos would be successful.
“I was like, ‘Dude, you realize that you’re really good at singing, right?’” DeVoe said. “I definitely encouraged him from the start to have the confidence to go out there and not care about what other people think and just worry about himself. I think just repeating that to him over and over consistently really helped build his confidence and really encouraged him to go after it.”
Jannakos started playing gigs in the area and his fiancée, Katie Page, saw the same talent DeVoe had seen. Without Jannakos knowing, she paid to promote one of his videos on Instagram and it quickly got picked up by other accounts.
“I don’t think he has an insecurity with his music,” Page said. “I think it was more of just discovering himself as an artist because he really had no idea.”
It wasn’t long after Jannakos found his footing that a scout from “The Voice” discovered him.
Jannakos went in for a private audition with the scout and impressed him right away by singing Garth Brooks and Luke Combs.
“The feedback they gave me, they were like, ‘You are an incredible, like one of the best auditions that we’ve had in Atlanta since we’ve been here’” Jannakos said. “I was like ‘Oh wow, that says something, I think.’”
Jannakos got to skip most of the open audition process and went straight to the audition in front of NBC executives, which took place in a dim room in Los Angeles, as producers for the show watched on.
It wasn’t what he expected — Jannakos said there were couches and tables and chairs all around him. Some people were eating sandwiches, others were pumping him up from the back of the room.
He stood on the piece of tape at the front of the room and sang Luke Combs’ “One Number Away.” He followed that up with Brantley Gilbert’s “Fall Into Me.”
“I think the thing they saw in me was the power behind my voice. I mean I’m 175 pounds and I don’t look like I’d sing the way I do,” said Jannakos, sporting a Canadian tuxedo and glasses that would be at home with Buddy Holly.
But before the gigs, before “The Voice,” another person spotted the Flowery Branch native’s talent: Stacie Mavis, Jannakos’ chorus teacher.
“You could give him one little piece of advice, and he would absorb it immediately,” Mavis said. “With Andrew, it was very easy, and it’s just because he was so passionate about it. And it’s because he was always, always practicing.”
Nowadays, he’s even practicing at night when he’s helping put Brenson Page, 2, Katie Page’s son, to sleep. Jannakos said Brenson won’t go to sleep unless he’s singing Billy Joel’s “Lullaby (Goodnight, My Angel).”
“That’s his favorite,” Jannakos said. “He’s out like a light when I sing that song to him.”
Now, Brenson and the rest of Jannakos’ fans will get to see him on stage as he sings for the coaches on “The Voice.” It’s a dream come true for him and a career he said never would have been possible if it wasn’t for the family, friends and teachers that have got him this far.
And where he goes from here?
“The rest is kind of to-be-determined,” Jannakos said, smirking.