That is what Fort Wayne native and Homestead High School graduate Samuel Harness channels to perform songs on the NBC television show “The Voice.”
During his Battle Round on Oct. 11 against KJ Jennings, his coach John Legend chose him as the winner. He will be moving on to the Knockout Round.
The Battle Round consists of two artists on the same team performing a duet, which was a new experience for him.
“I’ve always been a solo performer, touring alone,” Harness said. “I’ve never honestly done a duet live before. So this was the first time. KJ was probably the best partner to work with because she was extremely well-weathered in the world of music. She goes to Berklee, so she really knows what she is talking about. So I had a lot of help from her.”
As a member of Legend’s team, Harness was able to work with Team Adviser Camila Cabello. The song Legend chose was one of Cabello’s called “I Know What You Did Last Summer.”
Meeting Cabello was exciting for him.
“It was insane and surreal because we all have heard her songs on the radio all over the world,” Harness said. “So I’m standing there singing her song in front of her, and it’s nerve-wracking but also extremely surreal. It’s kind of mind-boggling, to be honest.”
While the song isn’t in his preferred genre, he said he felt good about his performance.
“That’s the beauty of the Battles because we are up for the challenge, we are going up against someone else, so it’s a duet but also a battle,” Harness said. “That’s something that he mentioned to me after the performance is he could tell that’s something I really wanted to keep on my mind. I really want to make this a great duet and sound great, but at the same time, I need to assert myself as a separate performer.”
After the performance, all of the judges — Kelly Clarkson, Legend, Ariana Grande and Blake Shelton — shared their opinion about each artist. Grande said she liked both artists but would ultimately choose Jennings.
But all of the other judges chose Harness.
“You have a rock edge to you, Samuel. It’s really cool,” Clarkson said. “...I’m curious to see where you’d go, Samuel, so I think I’m leaning that way, but they both did a really good job.”
Shelton was awed by Harness’ tone while singing.
“Samuel has that cool, smokey sound like he just smoked a carton of cigarettes right before, is that your trick?” Shelton said to get a laugh. “I think based on that tone, that is probably where I would go is Samuel,” Shelton said.
Legend had the ultimate decision, though.
He complimented Jennings on her vocal techniques, enthusiasm and energy, calling her magnetic, but Harness blew him away with the emotion he puts into his songs.
“Samuel, you emotionally invest in the music you are singing,” Legend said. “You sing with connection and passion, and you asserted yourself in the song in a way that said, ‘Even though I am singing a duet, this is also a battle.’ So both of you nailed it.”
Once Legend revealed that Harness won, he visibly relaxed on stage.
“I had a huge sigh of relief because it’s a duet, and I never sang with someone else live and had to harmonize,” Harness said. “It’s just a totally new world that I had to adapt to. So when he chose me and gave me those compliments, it was just a huge sigh of relief of a job well done. All of that hard work that I put into it, it just felt great that it all came together and fit together perfectly.”
After the performance, Legend said he picked Harness because his voice had more character and uniqueness than Jennings’ voice.
Harness said he didn’t know all of the judges would give their feedback, so he was nervous at the end of the performance, but he was ultimately happy with their comments.
“It made me feel great; I felt awesome,” Harness said. “Getting those compliments from them and that they would have chosen me in the Battle also, it felt great.”
Harness revealed some of his strategy moving forward.
“Honestly, as far as the Knockouts, just being prepared,” Harness said. “My mentality thus far in the competition has been when opportunity meets preparation. That’s been me. I’ve been performing for years and years now, and I’ve been preparing for these moments.”
He plans to own the stage and try to convey the emotion in whatever song he chooses.
“Trying to convey emotion in whatever song I choose to sing, I really want to convey emotion,” I think that is what my fans love the most is just feeling connected to the emotion of my voice.”
Singing a song he personally relates to is essential for him to reveal the emotion behind the music, he said.
“I personally love having songs that I can personally relate to,” Harness said. “I love singing anything, but those are what I gravitate toward most. Just like in my audition song, ‘Here Without You,’ I felt that because I was missing my son.”
The schedule for the Knockout Rounds has not been released yet, but Parts 3 and 4 of the Battle Rounds will air Oct. 18 and 19. The Knockout Rounds begin when the Battle Rounds are complete.
To watch “The Voice,” turn in to NBC on Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 p.m.