|Following in the famous footsteps of Tennessee Tech alumni Dottie West and Rodney Atkins, Jake Hoot is looking to make his mark in the music industry. |
A 2013 Tech graduate in interdisciplinary studies, Hoot took a big first step toward stardom by landing a spot on The Voice, a singing competition television series broadcast on NBC. Last week, the 30-year-old Hoot was part of the show’s blind auditions and was selected by Kelly Clarkson to be on her team.
“The show reached out to me to come and audition, so I did back in February,” Hoot explained. “You go through multiple steps before you ever get to the blind auditions. Somehow, I made it to that stage and I got a chair turn and I can’t even believe it’s happening.”
The response of being a participant on the nationally-televised show has been somewhat overwhelming.
“It’s been unreal. I tell people all the time you know it’s a national television show but you don’t realize the impact and the number of people who watch it until after you appear on it,” said Hoot. “It’s been crazy and incredible to see the amount of support I’ve been getting.”
Hoot has been getting support and improving his singing career since he came to Tech in 2009 as a walk-on member of the football team. He would play open mic nights at Tech’s Backdoor Playhouse and even sang the national anthem when Tech hosted the Ohio Valley Conference outdoor track and field championships at Tucker Stadium.
“He told me he could sing. I believe him now,” said Watson Brown, who was the Golden Eagles’ head coach when Hoot played from 2009 to 2011. “He didn’t even know how to put the pads in his uniform when he first got here. He wound up winning our most improved player award after his first year at Tech.”
After wrapping up his football career as a member of Tech’s 2011 OVC championship team, Hoot’s singing career also began to improve. He played gigs around Cookeville and the Upper Cumberland, honing his craft and getting a lot of support along the way. He even tried out for American Idol, although he didn’t make it past the audition phase.
“I kind of got in the flow of it,” said Hoot. “Playing music around here, everyone has been so supportive. A lot of people who have been supporting me over the years are reaching out. It’s nice to be able to make them proud and try to give Cookeville as much love as possible.”
The son of missionary parents, Hoot traveled all around the world with his eight siblings. At Tech, though, Hoot found a home.
“Without getting too corny, whether it was the football team or other students or people in the community, I could name 50 people off the top of my head who took me in as an extra kid. People around here embraced me so well,” Hoot said. “I used to tell people all the time that when I graduate I’m going to leave and travel and do whatever. But as you grow older and mature, you see how great this area is and how great these people are around here. It was a no-brainer to stay around here.”
Now, Hoot is traveling to Los Angeles where his appearance on The Voice will continue in the upcoming battle rounds. Whatever the outcome of the show, Hoot would like to be another famous singing Tech alum like Dottie West, who is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, or Rodney Atkins, who has sold more than 13 million units.
“Just to be mentioned in the same sentence as those two is amazing,” said Hoot. “I don’t think you can mentally prepare yourself when you make it on a show like that. I knew everyone around here was so supportive, but it’s like taking it to a different level. I’m very, very grateful for everyone.”
With a 4-year-old daughter and chasing a dream of being a star in the music industry, Hoot keeps himself humble by relying on his faith.
“The best piece of advice I can give is to keep God first in everything. A lot of people say that,” said Hoot. “My faith is very important to me. Keep God first and just keep chasing your dream. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and knocked down, but as long as you keep doing what you are doing and keep God first, stuff will line up.”
The Voice airs on Monday and Tuesday nights on NBC. Hoot’s blind audition can be viewed at