His audition: Lowell Oakley, 19, of Durham, N.C., auditioned with Duke Ellington’s “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore.” He displayed a nice tone from the opening note. Adam Levine turned around early in the performance. A nice flourish at the end of the song prompted Pharrell Williams to join him. Lowell joined Team Pharrell.
His background: Lowell jokes that he comes “from a long line of businessmen.” And he said The Voice blind audition outcome would be a factor in his decision to pursue a similar path, or music. That said, Lowell says his early musical influences included his dad, who sang in church, and his Uncle Tony, who pursued a degree in opera. “He has consistently pushed me to new heights” in music, Lowell says of his uncle. Then, in his junior year of high school, Lowell joined an a cappella group. Now his aspiration is to perform music that blends R&B and soul with the sound of the classic “jazzy crooners.”
What the show didn’t show: Lowell attended high school at the Durham Academy. According to his hometown newspaper, he was the lead male singer in the academy’s jazz and rock band, called In the Pocket. That’s in addition to being a member of the a cappella group XIV Hours. He’s now a freshman at Elon University in North Carolina where he has also joined the a cappella group, known as Rip Chord. That’s an all-male group, and Lowell said his a cappella colleagues turned out for the viewing party of his blind audition and “just let out a roar” when he appeared on the TV screen. “Working with Pharrell Williams at this point is a dream come true,” Lowell says. “I’ve followed his career since he was working with a younger Justin Timberlake.”
On picking Pharrell: “One of the things that pulled me toward Pharrell is he just locks onto you with his eyes. I’m looking at Adam, trying to pay as much attention as I can, but Pharrell’s just completely locked onto you. And you feel it. It’s unbelievable the power he has with his eyes. It’s mesmerizing.”
On iTunes: Just his audition song.
Update: In the battle round, he was matched against Kimberly Nichole. They performed “Hound Dog” by Elvis Presley. Pharrell declared Kimberly the winner. Lowell was stolen by Christina Aguilera. In the knockout round, he was pitted against Jacob Rummell. Lowell performed “My Girl” and was declared the winner by Pharrell.
Rip Chord performs “Latch” with Lowell as soloist
Rip Chord performs “I’ll Make Love to You” with Lowell as one of soloists