Colton Smith hopes to be the role model he never had when he was younger.
“I never had a role model on TV or in media or in my family, so I really didn’t know how to be a gay man,” he said.
The Belmont senior is using his newfound platform as a competitor on NBC’s “The Voice” to show people that no matter who you are or who you love, you deserve to be celebrated.
“I want to show kids at home that the idea that the very makeup of their being is wrong just isn’t true.”
Smith’s journey on “The Voice” began earlier this year at an open call audition. He played the waiting game until he finally received a phone call inviting him to the blind auditions in Los Angeles.
“People keep asking if it feels real, and I always say no,” Smith said. “It still feels like a dream!”
His blind audition garnered rave reviews from judges Blake Shelton, Kelly Clarkson and Adam Levine, but Jennifer Hudson took it a step farther by adding him to her team.
“I wanted to be on Jennifer’s team from the beginning – she’s a living legend,” he said. “Getting to work with her and wrack her brain was indescribable.”
But after that initial high of being chosen for a team, Smith’s journey almost ended. In the battle rounds, he gave a powerful performance of Blake Shelton’s “God Gave Me You” with team member Patrique Fortson.
“After the performance production had to tell the crowd to calm down because they were on a time schedule – it was crazy in there,” Smith said.
Fortson was announced as the winner of the round. Smith spilled his heart to the judges to thank them for giving him the opportunity, thinking he was being sent home.
But Smith’s time on the show wasn’t quite over.
“Right as I was walking past Blake, I made eye contact with him and he stole me,” Smith said. “It was like energy shooting through my body. I think I cried, but I don’t even remember.”
Long before Smith got the opportunity to sing in front of large audiences, he got his start singing hymns in his grandmother’s kitchen. Smith inherited his passion for music from her and would sing at every opportunity he had, he said.
That love for music led him to Belmont to major in commercial voice and join The Beltones and Company, two of Belmont’s top musical ensembles.
“Taking music classes made a world of difference in me as a musician,” Smith said. “And being in two of the most prestigious ensembles shaped my work ethic and the mindset I go into rehearsals with.”
Beyond technical knowledge, being at Belmont taught Smith just as much about accepting himself, he said.
“As far as learning to love who I am, the community here is so real and intentional,” he said. “People really love to invest time in you to get to know you.”
And Smith has plenty of advice to pass down to other members of that community.
“Try not to compare yourself,” he said. “Try to find your own superpower and own it. Everyone has something different to bring to the table.”
He also added a sentiment that his own experience has proven to be true.
“Try not to be scared of your dreams no matter how big they are,” he said. “Everything is achievable if you work hard enough.”
Photo courtesy of NBC/The Voice