BURRILLVILLE – Speaking to cameras in front of local landmarks including Harrisville Falls, Jesse Desorcy told America how his vocal talent was born from tragedy.
The 29-year-old singer of country/rock band Back Rhodes appeared on the NBC hit singing competition The Voice on Monday, March 8.
And while his performance of David Lee Murphy’s, “Dust on the Bottle,” didn’t turn the chairs of coaches – creating a chance for the local star to make future appearances with the all-star cast – Desorcy still impressed the group.Big & Rich, Frankie Ballard, Jo Dee Messina and Trent Harmon.
Desorcy described his journey to the blind auditions of season 20 of the popular show, which gives artists across the country a chance at stardom.
At age 21, the Burrillville native had joined the U.S. Coast Guard, and was planning to go to Guantanamo Bay when he was diagnosed with Leber hereditary optic neuropathy – a rare condition that causes blindness.
“I try not to get too down, but for me it was overwhelming,” he said. “I started playing guitar more, and trying to sing for the first time in my life.”
In the time since, Desorcy’s band Back Rhodes, a six-member progressive country act featuring musicians from Burrillville and neighboring Glocester, has won a local following, and shared the stage with national talent including Frankie Ballard, Jo Dee Messina and Trent Harmon..
“Doing music full time… it’s like I’m drawn to it,” Desorcy said. “It’s like a calling to me. I can’t think of anything else I’d want to do.”
After the blind audition, where singers aim to attract a, “coach,” to work with on the program, Kelly Clarkson was the first to speak.
“You just rocked my little country girl heart,” Clarkson said.
Nick Jonas had advice for the performer.
“I really feel like playing with a band – maybe you have one already – is probably the move because your voice cuts so clearly through. I do feel like you have a great tone,” Jonas said.
John Legend and Blake Shelton also commented on the quality of the singer’s voice.
“The kind of tone you have – it’s very powerful,” said Legend. “It’s very energizing for the room. It makes people feel a lot of passion and power is coming from you.”
“Just know that you have those tools to work with and if you just control them a little bit better you’ll be in great shape,” Legend said.
Shelton said that while he wanted to turn his chair for the country performer, nerves had likely made his singing a bit sharp.
“Your energy level’s probably through the roof with this opportunity,” Shelton said. “I think Jesse has a great tone. If he can figure out the pitch thing he should be able to come back and get a chair to turn.”
The blind auditions will continue on NBC in the coming weeks, with the top talent from across the country taking their shot before a national audience.
Editor’s note: An original version of this article stated that Desorcy served in the U.S. Navy, rather than the Coast Guard. We apologize for the error.