Niceville native, former "The Voice" contestant Jared Herzog returns to Northwest Florida
BLUE MOUNTAIN BEACH — Jared Herzog has places to be.
The Niceville native and former contestant on season 17 of NBC’s “The Voice” is now based back in Northwest Florida — living in a carriage house in Blue Mountain Beach — but is hardly staying put.
He was supposed to fly from Houston, Texas, to Kenya to lead worship this past week, but the trip was canceled because of bad weather; now, he is spending time with his girlfriend in Tennessee, might come back to the Florida Panhandle and then in April will go to Nashville to perform in front of record label executives.
“We’re hard pressing to get signed by the end of April, if not the beginning of May,” Herzog said. “I’ve been working on my own music, gigging a lot locally.”
More (2019 story):Meet ‘The Voice Contestant,’ Niceville native Jared Herzog
More (Oct. 2019 story):Niceville native Jared Herzog loses battle on ‘The Voice,’ looks ahead
Herzog performs frequently at Old Florida Fish House in Santa Rosa Beach, but also books private events and gigs at other venues.
Herzog, 22, competed on “The Voice” in 2019, singing Dan + Shay’s song “Speechless” during the Blind Auditions, which aired Oct. 7, and performing Shawn Mendes’ “Treat You Better” in a sing-off against Will Breman, which aired Oct. 21. Breman was chosen as the battle winner by coach John Legend and Herzog exited the show gracefully.
“It was tough, but I felt like my time was cut when it needed to be,” Herzog said.
In retrospect, Herzog said he learned a lot about the industry, specifically the legalities.
“There was so little time where you actually got to spend time in the presence of these celebrity judges,” Herzog said. “They did equip us with a vocal coach while we were there, and I did learn a lot about expanding my range and strengthening my voice. Definitely felt as though I hit new heights in my vocal ability while I was there just from the warm-ups, cool downs and vocal practices they gave me.”
Other than that, it was just a fun ride, Herzog said.
“You spend a lot of time with all the contestants,” Herzog said. “I was kind of near and dear with the guy who won my season. His name was Jake Hoot. We would go in his hotel room and just play Super Smash Brothers on his TV. It was quite amazing to watch all those people make it to the finale and Jake to win. Definitely a cool experience.”
Since the show, he has graduated with a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee. Because his classes were done via Zoom video conferencing, he moved to Nashville, Tennessee, to pursue music in July 2020.
It was tough to secure gigs and make money doing them in Nashville because of the pandemic.
“It just was not sustainable and I came to this place of, ‘OK, it’s time to rethink the Nashville direction,’” Herzog said. “I came home and I’ve been unbelievably blessed financially. Musically, I felt inspired. And I’ve made the best connections of my life since being back home.”
He moved to Blue Mountain Beach in December and things couldn’t be going better. He met his new manager, Van Haze, at one of his gigs.
“It’s apparently very common,” Herzog said. “There’s so many music execs that come to 30A or have a place out there. It was fairly quick before I started getting some attention from these executives that come out.”
Herzog plays a mixture of his original music and cover songs, but mostly cover music. He hopes to have an EP out in the future.
“People in this area want to hear covers of their favorite top 40 songs over the years,” Herzog said. “It’s very similar to music I would write, John Mayer, Jack Johnson, Coldplay, Ed Sheeran.”
The song that elicits the biggest reaction is “Tennessee Whiskey.”
“People just go crazy over that song,” Herzog said. “I guess it’s because of the vocal run right at the chorus that Chris Stapleton does. Every artist has a different take on it and I guess people really enjoy my take — at least sometimes. If anyone starts hooting and hollering, that’s usually the one.”
Herzog thinks his tone sets him apart.
“There’s a very cliché, Nashville term going around over the past 10 years, ever since Bieber came around and people started getting on TikTok and social media,” Herzog said. “From what people have told me, people on the show — even John Legend in a private conversation — the thing that has always set me apart, they loved the smooth, but full tone I had. I can sing in a high register, which is great, but something people really love is a crooning sound, almost like Sinatra. Very calming.”
Herzog isn’t an in-your-face kind of singer, he said.
“That’s actually something I was always concerned about going in and auditioning for shows, where you’re given 20 to 25 seconds to just blow the socks off of these talent scouts at these big cattle call auditions,” Herzog said. “I don’t have the kind of voice where I’m going to blow their mind with some vocal run or crazy ranges; I’m just going to up and sing a ballad, something I thought was pretty. I’ve always had this earthier, smooth and airy tone — ever since I was a kid.”