Terry Pinkard’s journey from America’s east to west coast took him around the world, where he worked for pennies and crashed wherever he could lay his head, often sleeping on friends’ sofas. Where Pinkard has finally landed is every singer’s dream, performing on the stage of The Voice before musical greats Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, Alicia Keys and Gwen Stefani.
Pinkard, who performs under the name TSoul, earned a spot on Blake Shelton’s team during last week’s blind auditions with his rendition of “Take Me to the River.” This week, he performs in the battle rounds.
Pinkard’s pick of Shelton as a coach and member of his team of 12 singers was somewhat of a surprise. Blake is a country music singer; Pinkard’s brand is a combination of rhythm and blues blended with soul.
Pinkard had two stars turn their chairs, Shelton and Levine. Levine tried to convince him to join Team Adam. “You’re a special man. The way you do it is unique to you,” said Levine. He went on to say that Pinkard could “win this thing,” and urged him to join his team. “Come home, come home,” he said.
But in the end, Shelton won Pinkard over.
“You may be 29,” said Shelton. But your voice is “like a 50-year-old’s voice, with all the herbs and spices…you’re one of a kind.” Shelton thanked him for bringing his voice to The Voice.
The show, which searches for the best-of-the-best vocalists around the country will conclude Season 12 in May. Pinkard and the other 47 hopefuls who made the blind audition cut are currently taping episodes which air on Monday and Tuesday nights.
“I’m looking forward to going into the battle rounds,” said Pinkard during a phone interview from Los Angeles, Calif. A. “I’m looking forward to working with Blake. Country and soul music go hand-in-hand.”
Although some are probably surprised Pinkard chose Shelton as a coach over Levine, he said it was a natural choice.
“I love Adam but there was never a doubt who I was gonna choose,” said Pinkard. “When they both turned around I knew I’d be in the right hands no matter who I chose.”
Pinkard said both were seasoned veterans of the show and know how to coach an artist to the final.
Pinkard reached the stage over hundreds of thousands of other candidates who auditioned all over the country. He auditioned in North Carolina last fall, then headed to L.A. where he sang for the show’s producers. In all, there were three auditions before he finally reached the stage to perform in the blind auditions.
This was actually Pinkard’s seventh time auditioning “and its the first time for me getting to the stage,” he said.
A 2005 graduate of Northumberland High School, Pinkard’s music career began when “my [paternal] grandmother placed me at the piano at five years old and I stuck with it.”
He started singing in the Shiloh Baptist Church choir on a regular basis and took a chorus class at NHS, where he sang the national anthem at ball games and played football. At Virginia State University in Richmond, he joined the gospel choir, which took him around the world. At 20, he decided singing was his calling and he made it a full-time career, traveling to Japan, France, Italy, Canada, Hungary and across the U.S.
“I love the stage,” said Pinkard. “That truly feels like home.”
For the first four or five years of his career, he sofa-surfed and the “money wasn’t necessarily there.”
But he has never given up. He’ll turn 30 years old this month and knows his appearance on The Voice is his big break. He already has four albums, including a Home for the Holidays collection. All are available on iTunes and Pandora.
“I have a fan base built back home,” he said. “It’s a movement that has led me to The Voice.”
Pinkard is the son of Kenny Pinkard and retired Northumberland school teacher Karen Haynie Pinkard. The two still live in Burgess. Pinkard’s late maternal grandmother, Gladys Haynie, was also a teacher in Northumberland schools.
He had several family members, including his dad, brother, his brother’s fiance, niece and sister, backstage during his blind audition.
He even connected with a fellow Virginian during the show’s production, Lyndsey Highlander of Tennessee, formerly of New Kent Highlander also made it to the blind auditions but with only one team spot remaining.
“I love Lyndsey,” said Pinkard. “She’s an amazing, amazing singer. I was so glad they showed some of her audition on the show.”
Pinkard came home to Northumberland County in February to perform “Amazing Grace” at a Black History Month program at the Northumberland Public Library.
He said he was thankful for the “overwhelming support I’ve been getting,” in the Northern Neck.
“The kids that go to Northumberland now are finding a way to reach out to me on Facebook and Snapchat,” he said. “It’s great to be able to be their role model.”
The Voice airs on NBC Channel 12 on Monday and Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. To follow TSoul, log onto TSoulonline.com.