Tarrant County dominated The Voice during last week’s show, proving that we grow some gold-plated tonsils around these parts. We produce fantastic competitors in TV singing shows, stretching back to 2002 when Fort Worth native Kelly Clarkson won the inaugural season of American Idol. And there Clarkson was on The Voice, serving as judge while Crowley singer-songwriter Joey Green faced off against Fort Worth bluesman Michael Lee in an early round.
By now, it’s no secret that Lee won the battle. Green’s TV journey ended, while Lee prepares for more sing-offs ahead. I have to admit I was rooting for Green, probably because I know him and have never met Lee. I first ran into Green about 10 years ago at the White Elephant Saloon. I was sitting on the judge’s panel for a battle of the bands contest, and Green was a finalist. His band lost in the final elimination, but I remember thinking he had big voice and seemed driven to succeed.
Laurie Barker James introduced him to Fort Worth Weekly readers in 2010 (“Joey Green Hits Red Dirt,” Jan 6). Editor Anthony Mariani praised the singer-songwriter’s Lo 5 album a few years later (“Killer or Filler,” July 17, 2013). In recent years, Green has been living in Nashville while hammering at the music business –– and stirring up shit on occasion. A story I wrote that included Green (“What Happened to Texas Music?” June 21, 2017) sparked outrage among music fans and at least one critic at the online rag Saving Country Music (“Small-Minded Article in Fort Worth Weekly Misses Big Picture,” June 22, 2017).
Green’s fate on The Voice became obvious while he and Lee were still mid-performance. They were co-singing John Hiatt’s “Thing Called Love,” made famous by Bonnie Raitt. I preferred Green’s smooth, slightly raspy delivery to Lee’s full-blown (and borderline contrived) blues growl. The live audience and the judges, however, loved Lee. They grew visibly and audibly excited every time Lee turned into Howlin’ Wolf. Afterward, the curtain began falling on Green.
Judge Jennifer Hudson spoke first, telling Lee, “Your voice fills the room.”
Lee cocked his head to the left and smiled. Green cocked his head to the right and looked nervous. Hudson continued, saying she sensed “more of a presence” from Lee.
Both contestants were on Team Blake, and coach Blake Shelton said choosing between them “sucked” but that he was “going to go with my gut.”
As soon as Shelton announced his decision, Green turned and punched Lee in the face, breaking his nose on national TV. Not really. Green and Lee have been friends for years. They hugged it out with smiles. Good luck to Lee going forward. He plays a mean electric guitar, and I just watched an NBC TV interview of Lee from Sept 26, and he comes across as a super solid dude. Maybe he’ll become Tarrant County’s latest contest winner.