The rock band the Eagles were one of the most successful musical acts of the 70’s with six No. 1 singles and six No. 1 albums. As far as the country music charts go, there are a couple of Georgia Southern Eagles who have done quite well. Just last month Luke Bryan hosted the Country Music Awards and actually introduced Cole Swindell who performed.
Bryce Leatherwood graduated from Georgia Southern in May and would love to join his GS Eagles friends on the country music scene. And, in fact, he has already been on the big stage in front of millions as a current contestant on NBC’s popular singing show The Voice.
Leatherwood has become a fan favorite for the 2022 fall season as a member of team Blake Shelton, as he has advanced to The Voice final 8, with the quarterfinals starting Monday night at 8 p.m. on NBC. To vote, go to nbc.com/VoiceVote and register or download The Voice app on your phone.
Leatherwood says it has all been quite a surreal experience from graduating in May, to auditioning for The Voice shortly thereafter, playing a few local gigs and then heading back to Los Angeles, where he has stayed the past few months.
“I am pinching myself every day out here as it is just tough to believe how far I’ve come so fast,” Leatherwood said. “It has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience and it is just a complete whirlwind and the greatest experience of my life.”
To Statesboro via Woodstock
Leatherwood came to Statesboro from Woodstock, just north of Atlanta, where he graduated from Sequoyah High School. Music always was his passion and he played throughout his college days, performing as a solo artist, before putting his band together in November 2021.
While being applauded and praised by the likes of John Legend, Gwen Stefani, Camila Cabello and Shelton could go to anyone’s head, Leatherwood said he has made it a point to try and stay grounded and remember where he comes from.
“It has definitely already changed my life in many ways, but in others I think I have remained the same,” he said. “My social media took off as I went from a little over 1,000 followers to over 23,000. I’ve had guys I admire like Travis Tritt reach out to me. I’ve met people like Channing Tatum and Tim Allen but I think I’ve stayed grounded. I’ve really gotten to know the cast members on The Voice and especially the ones on ‘Team Blake.’ They have become like a second family for me out here and we have all become tight.”
Shelton was the first one to turn his chair when Bryce performed “Goodbye Time,” which was originally performed by Conway Twitty, but covered by Shelton, as well. Since then, Shelton has lauded Leatherwood’s performances and commented recently how much Bryce has grown as an artist and from a vocal perspective as well.
“Blake has been a great friend,” Leatherwood said. “He has been an incredible mentor and has just told me to be myself. He will make you laugh, and he gives great advice, too. We also have a great team behind the scenes, including production and cast mates who may give you helpful advice on vocal warm-ups and ways to grow as a vocalist. When I am back in Statesboro, I am worried about booking gigs and traveling, but now it has just been about getting better at my craft.”
Leatherwood says he is definitely getting used to the weather in L.A., but the surroundings are not what he prefers. He said he is much more comfortable with the open spaces the rural areas of Georgia provide.
“I love being busy with the music and the potential lifestyle that could come with success,” Leatherwood said. “But I miss the south. I miss Georgia, I miss living in Statesboro along with my friends and my roots.”
Leatherwood’s Statesboro band
After being a solo artist for most of his college performances, Leatherwood put together the Bryce Leatherwood band in November 2021. Consisting of guitarist Logan Stephens of Statesboro and brothers Eric (drums and keyboards) and Jason Kollars (bass), the band knew of Leatherwood’s The Voice audition and began playing local gigs waiting to see what would come next.
“It has been so crazy,” Stephens said. “We are so happy for Bryce and the success he has had. We’ve all stayed in touch and even though we haven’t been together as a band the past couple months we have all really worked hard practicing so we can be ready for whatever happens when The Voice is over. Hopefully, with Bryce winning it all. He has been so great trying to bring us all along for the ride and seeing pictures of the band on the show has just been wild.”
The band has played locally at bars like The Blue Room and Southern Social and performed their last gig together Oct. 22 at The Crazy Bull in Macon, before Leatherwood took off for Los Angeles, where he has been since performing at The Voice live shows.
“I’m glad we were able to get in plenty of work together before I had to come out here for as long as I have,” Leatherwood said. “Those guys mean the world to me and I talk to them a good bit. It’s been a little tough because I am so far away and they are busy, too, but they are my boys and they are my band and are incredible musicians.”
Leatherwood said he has heard from plenty of people from his hometown of Woodstock and his extended family in the Statesboro area, as well. Watch parties are happening every Monday and Tuesday night for his performances on the show.
On Monday and Tuesday, the number of singers will shrink as they will go from eight to five, and while Leatherwood admits to still having butterflies on the stage, he is confident in his ability to move on.
“You have to think about the end game because we are in end game mode now,” he said. “You have to be sure to step up your vocal skills and be prepared the best you can. You never know what can happen on this show and that is the beauty of it.”
As far as the next step after The Voice concludes, Bryce said he sees himself moving to Nashville and pursuing his dream.