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Eastern Kentuckian tries to win America’s best original song

Weekday broadcast of WYMT Mountain News at 11
Published: May. 9, 2022 at 3:12 PM EDT
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Weekday broadcast of WYMT Mountain News at 11

HARLAN, Ky. (WYMT) - Monday night was the end of the road on the NBC reality competition American Song Contest and Eastern Kentucky was well-represented in the Grand Finale.

Jordan Smith finished 3rd in the competition, behind only Riker Lynch from Colorado and Alexa from Oklahoma.

Harlan County is known for its beautiful mountains, its legacy of hardy coal miners, and, more recently, incredible singers like Jordan Smith.

His brother Tyler said that growing up in Harlan played a big role in his brother’s life.

“It’s helped to shape him into being someone who is, someone that people really like, you know,” Tyler said. “And someone that presents himself really well to everyone that he meets. And I think that’s one of those hallmark things to growing up in the South.”

Monday night family, friends and neighbors from across Eastern Kentucky gathered at The Harlan Center to cheer Smith on in the Grand Finale.

It was a sight familiar to many of those who watched him win Season 9 of The Voice in 2015.

“The first time you would think, ‘it’s once in a lifetime!’ But now, it’s twice in a lifetime,” Tyler added. “It’s a really exciting experience. You know, the first time was life changing and this time was life affirming.”

After his performance, the room went wild and confidence was high.

“He always sings good enough to win it all,” said Geri Joseph, Smith’s mother. “I think he’ll win.”

“Oh my God, he’s a winner,” said stepdad Hiram Joseph. “He’s a winner already.”

But the competition was stiff, and Smith was edged out by an incredibly talented roster of artists.

“He loves his State, he loves where he lives. He loves where he’s from, he’s never forgotten it. And he’s just been honored and privileged to represent our State,” Geri said.

This was the inaugural season of American Song Contest. Artists from the competition were chosen to represent each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five American territories. Smith, of course, represented the Bluegrass.

There were five qualifying rounds and two semi-final rounds to get to this finale. Smith performed his original song, “Sparrow.”

The show is based on the wildly popular Eurovision Song Contest held each year between European countries.

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