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Arizona Teacher Barrett Baber Schools Himself for Success on The Voice

Photo by Trae Patton/NBC

When the Top 12 names of The Voice were called a couple of weeks ago, Barrett Baber became the oldest remaining competitor on the show. At 35, from Team Blake comes to the series with a rich personal background and a sense of maturity lacking in the other challengers. Perhaps that’s why he was smart enough to start plotting his strategy before he even took the reality TV show stage.

Hailing from Fayetteville, Arizona, Barrett started his musical journey as child when his family moved to South Africa and he became intrigued with African harmonies. Upon returning to the US, he found that music was the only channel through which he could forge a connection with friends in the States. Following a tragic airplane crash when he was just 19, Barrett focused on family and became a teacher of the Dramatic Arts.

While his day job might not be center stage on a big primetime television show, Barrett has used it as opprtunity to hone his skills as a performer. In a recent roundtable interview, he remarked, “I always viewed myself, when I was standing in front of a classroom of kids, as being on stage. That was a moment where a performance had to happen. And that’s how I connected with the kids.”

Not surprisingly, he has transferred that theory to every number on the NBC reality show. “I went in there and knew I had to make it interesting and make it fun, especially on The Voice because you’re tying to connect with a human audience that’s out there in TV land and it’s very similar. So I was kind of prepared coming in,” he acknowledged.

He also was ready when it came time to pick a coach. Barrett was in the fortuitous position of having all four music icons turn their chairs around when he tried out. “I went into the Blind Audition with a plan — a plan for my song, a plan for every line, a plan for every note and certainly a plan for what I might do if all the coaches turned around or if just one turned around,” he revealed.

Not every struggling musician has the opportunity to turn down superstars like Gwen Stefani, Pharrell Williams and Adam Levine — let alone reject all of their offers simultaneously. But knowing Blake Shelton’s track record for standing by members of his team long after the show is over, and even if they don’t win, Barrett knew what he had to do.

“I was fortunate enough to have all four and certainly thought about how I could best benefit from the advice I got on the show but would have been foolish not to think about what could happen after the show,” he conceded. “And, you know, no pressure, Blake, but I’m down.”

For now, Barrett has two jobs — to pick the best song he can and perform it to the best of his ability each week. “I take that really seriously,” he noted. “The song choice thing is one of the things that I think kind of separates the men from the boy sometimes — to use a bad metaphor or cliché.”

Having studied the show the way any good teacher turned student would, he knows how critical each decision is. “That is the thing where people stumble and we’ve heard that from producers and we’ve heard that from former contestants that song choice is so key,” he continued. “I think moving forward, I’m going to continue my process, which is just to sit down with every idea and think it through. And then really rely on the expertise of my coach, who’s won this thing I bunch of times.”

It’s worked so far. Barrett reflected on the collaborative process with Blake to date, “That’s something that I offer up to him. When we were standing on stage [preparing for the Final 12 episode], I looked at him, we’d gotten our songs and I said, ‘Yo, man, I’ve got some ideas for this song.’ And he said, ‘I do, too.’”

That’s sure to continue according to Barrett, “I’m looking forward to walking into a room and us putting our heads together and being creative— that’s what he is, that’s what I am — and come up with something really special.”

To see what Barrett and Blake come up with next, watch The Voice on Mondays and Tuesday nights at 8 P.M. EST/PST on NBC.

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