By Michelle Price
UCBJ Managing Editor
COOKEVILLE – It isn’t every day that a platinum-selling recording artist comes back to his hometown to help celebrate an up-and-coming artist, but Judah Akers did just that when he participated in last Saturday’s “Hoot at the Hoop” event.
“Hoot at the Hoop” celebrated Cookevillian Jake Hoot’s victory in NBC’s “The Voice” competition, which concluded in December 2019.
Akers is no stranger to performing in arenas. His band, Judah & the Lion, has traveled extensively throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe promoting a string of successful albums since the band formed in 2011.
Before the concert, Akers shared with the UCBJ the advice he wished he had received when starting out as a new artist.
“Just being in Nashville and being surrounded by people, you’re naturally going to get influenced and affected,” Akers said. “One thing I really needed to hear when I was first starting out was you have to be true to yourself and believe in yourself in that way. And don’t allow other things, whether it be negativity, or even positivity, to affect your creative output. If you believe in yourself and you trust in yourself, that’s where the good music comes from.”
Hoot, like Akers, is writing many of his own songs for his upcoming album. Akers gave some insight on “putting yourself” into your music like Hoot did with his original song, “Better Off Without You,” which Hoot performed live on “The Voice.”
“A part of making music is you just have to put yourself out there, and it’s always so interesting when you put out a song, because it’s like you put out a little piece of your heart, and people can receive it well or people can be negative about it, or whatever,” Akers reflected. “That’s the whole thing of staying true to yourself. If you’re making music that’s honest to you, then I think you’ll be happy with it.”
Once on stage during “Hoot at the Hoop,” Akers took a moment to compliment Hoot on his personality coming through in his performances and recordings.
“I love this guy over here,” Akers said. “I think what I love so much about Jake and his music is something that we all as artists aspire to – if you watch someone sing or even hear somebody’s songs, you feel like you are best friends with that person, and Jake, you do that when you sing. It’s like you feel like you know him, and it comes from such a sweet and tender spot. I only met him briefly before this, but everything said here today is true, and that’s why so many people are here today.”