Bryce Leatherwood wooed country music fans the first time he appeared on “The Voice US” stage during the second episode of season 22 on 20 September 2022. His voice and typical cowboy appearance in the audition had viewers at home and the audience in the theater cheering. Judges recognized his talent, and nearly all became interested in getting him onto their team.

Because Bryce could pick Blake Shelton, a country star judge he admired, and whose song he sang, the clear choice marked his competition. Ultimately, he won the season of the TV show, and was signed to record an album in mid-December 2022. But what came of it all, and where is Bryce Leatherwood now? We investigated, and came up with answers.

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Who is Bryce Leatherwood?

Bryce Leatherwood was born on 4 February 2000, in Woodstock, Cherokee County, Georgia USA. He grew up on his grandfather’s farm and had a typical country life of listening to country music, riding tractors, and helping out.  His grandfather celebrated his 75th birthday in 2021, having beaten cancer in six months in 2019. Bryce started singing in seventh grade at Dean Rusk Middle School in Canton, Georgia, but was also a talented high school wrestler. While attending Sequoyah High School, in 2018 he became the first Sequoyah-based Region Champion in over a decade. He also enjoys skiing and is a devoted Christian.

Bryce’s first foray as a music professional involved playing in college bars when he was studying at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, from where he graduated in May 2022 with a business degree. As an underground artist, he sold 225 seats in less than a week for one college bar show, which was an ode to his talent.

Bryce hopes tht his business degree will help him manage his music career, as he got the chance to use it before graduation after he formed the eponymous band in 2021, which performed in bars such as The Blue Room, Southern Social, and many venues in Macon, Georgia. Bryce has also worked in door-to-door sales, translating well to his landscaping company, where he learned to read and interact with people.

Auditioning for “The Voice” on NBC

Bryce Leatherwood sang “Goodbye Time” by Conway Twitty during the Blind Audition stage of NBC’s TV show “The Voice US.” However, he performed a version with a piano base that Blake Shelton released on his third studio album, entitled Blake Shelton’s Barn & Grill, in 2004. Three judges, Gwen Stefani, John Legend and Blake Shelton turned their chairs, indicating that they wanted to be his coach throughout the competition. They described his voice ‘like butter’, and noticed how excited Blake and John were to have him on, the former repeatedly exclaiming ‘Welcome to Team Blake’ before he stopped singing.

Blake also asked a rhetorical question – ‘Has there ever been a country-er name than Leatherwood? What a great country name!’ He jokingly praised his music choice since the young country star picked his song version before Bryce chose him as his coach. Bryce then proceeded to Battle Rounds and Knockout Rounds where he performed “Red Dirt Road” and “Colder Weather” by Brooks and Dun and Zack Brown Band, respectively.

Going from Top 16 to Finale

During Live Rounds, Bryce almost lost his spot on the show due to a lack of support from his coach. Luckily, the American audience used their votes to “instant save” him, and send him to the top 13, where he sang George Strait’s “Amarillo by Morning.” In hindsight, he thinks Blake knew that country music fans would vote to keep him, and let the other team member go through, meaning this was a strategic move to retain both singers in the competition. Bryce then performed “Sand in My Boots” by Morgan Wallen in the Top 10 round, and “If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away” by Justin Moore in the semi-finals, receiving enough public votes both times.

Bryce wins “The Voice” season 22

Bryce Leatherwood performed three songs in the finale, starting with “T.R.O.U.B.L.E” by Travis Tritt and Keith Whitley’s “Don’t Close your Eyes.” He concluded the evening of 13 December 2022 with a duet with Blake Shelton of the judge’s 2011 song “Hillbilly Bone”, featuring Trace Adkins. After receiving enough support, Bryce Leatherwood was crowned the winner of season 22 of “The Voice”; the other Team Blake contestants, Bodie and Brayden Lape, placed in the top five. Bryce was also the first artist to remain in the show via the “instant save” vote and win, and his victory marked the ninth win for Blake Sheldon in 22 seasons on the show. Blake then announced that he would retire from the show after season 23.

He received much praise from Blake Shelton

Winning made things more special, since Blake revealed tat he sees a younger version of himself in Bryce, especially the drive to succeed and the desire to be on the radio. He admits he was ‘nowhere near as well-spoken and a bit of a mess, while Bryce knows what he wants to do and is doing it.’ Bryce won $100,000 and a recording deal with Universal Music Group, with Blake promising to be there for him, because he sees himself as an older brother to the young artist.

In contrast, Bryce sees Blake as a best friend, an incredible coach, and someone he relates to and wants to be like one day. As proof, Blake’s 2023 New Year resolution was to hear Bryce on the radio throughout the year. In contrast, Bryce wanted to ‘impact more people’s lives with his music and personality—make them happy, dance, or cry.’

His victory was controversial

Bryce never hid the fact that he would have been content with not winning, because he saw five winners during the finale. After he prayed on stage, he told Bodie and Morgan Myles how proud he was of them. He was so overjoyed to make his dreams come true and his family proud that ‘the audience would have heard him sobbing’ if confetti and loud cheers didn’t muffle the sound.

However, his win received a mixed reaction, especially from fans of other coaches or music genres other than country. Social media such as Twitter and Instagram were filled with posts suspecting that the show was rigged in favor of the country music genre, or an artist with Team Blake; they mentioned country singers such as Cassadee Pope, Danielle Bradbery, Craig Wayne Boyd and Todd Tilghman as great examples. Viewers also noted that other contestants had dynamic performances and rich vocals, while Bryce stuck to one monotonous style until the end.

Bryce responded to the critics

Online comments aroused enough buzz that TVLINE immediately interviewed Bryce, and asked him for his opinion. He said that the night before the finale he briefly thought winning was impossible. However, he was comforted by the fact that, in his view, more fans started voting for him after the “Amarillo by Morning” performance. Furthermore, Bryce loved singing “If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away”, and knew his rendition of “T.R.O.U.B.L.E” in the finale would be the most fun he’d have.

However, on that day, Bryce didn’t think he received special treatment. Instead, he kept thinking ‘Alright, watch this!’ to prove his worth. He added that country music fans are ‘impactful, not unfair or biased, and that it’s about who you are as an artist, not only based on voice.’ However, he agreed with viewers that he would lose to Morgan Myles and Bodie if pure vocal talent were the only measure.

He plans to relocate to advance his music career

Bryce still resides in the same place he did while auditioning for “The Voice.” However, when Music Mayhem Magazine interviewed him, he revealed his plans to move from Statesboro, Georgia, to Nashville, Tennessee, but had to ‘figure out his home scenario and save his money’ before settling there.

Bryce also admits to not being the best songwriter, especially of song verses, and is practicing both alone and with others. Moreover, he hopes collaborating with talented and successful people in Nashville will help him evolve. In his opinion, artists need to be writers to provide input and apply changes that would make songs unique to them.

He kept things quiet until a fellow season 22 finalist, Morgan Myles, who became one of his best friends, posted a Twitter behind-the-scenes update from a studio on 16 January 2023, revealing that the two recorded an original song they wrote, but didn’t specify anything about its release. In an NBC interview, Bryce said that he wants to release ‘an album or two in the next couple of years’, but that he’s fine with playing shows and festivals if it makes people happy.

Bryce wants to stay broke to avoid losing motivation

Many artists use the prize money to buy things they’ve always wanted, or even splurge on unnecessary items and lavish gifts. Bryce is different; he considers himself ‘still a broke college kid’, doesn’t care how high the reward is, but will invest the prize money and never even see it, but revealed that his family is exempt from his money-saving goal and spent significant money during Christmas after his victory, ‘because they deserved it so much’.

Bryce believes that staying young, broke and hungry will help him thrive more than if he wanted to grow from his newfound minor wealth. Consequently, he enjoys the idea of couch surfing in Nashville and having to record and perform in less-than-ideal conditions.

Moreover, he doesn’t mind collaborating with unknown artists, because he learned not to judge a book by its cover in “The Voice.” He claims he ‘fell in love with everybody’ and realized they are all dedicated sweethearts and high characters.

Bryce looks up to his home state’s best-known artists

As of late February 2023, Bryce has yet to release original music. However, he wrote some songs with contestants from his season of the talent show. As for his solo music, Bryce is meeting with the record label and plans to have a sound and mentality typical to musicians from Georgia, but depict the story of his life. Bryce stated that his ideal sound is a mix of Southern rock, traditional country, and modern country, and plans to take Blake’s advice to be adaptable, but always stay who he is.

Moreover, he’s equally interested in recording upbeat and fun songs and slow and more somber tracks’ as long as they impact people. He also said that he wouldn’t mind showing more vocal range in squeals and belts to throw a curveball.

Bryce’s biggest inspirations are Georgia artists such as Alan Jackson, Sam Hunt, Luke Bryan and Thomas Rhett, whom he thinks are great representatives. With that in mind, although he plans to be busy with music, Bryce misses his life in Georgia, which became apparent after his first-place finish. He told Entertainment Tonight that after he gets home, he’ll ‘curl up beside a campfire outside, enjoy the cold weather, light a good cigar, and drink a nice whiskey.’

His dream is to perform at the Grand Ole Opry

Bryce revealed that from the day he picked up his guitar, he wanted to perform at the Grand Ole Opry, a weekly music show and one of the most prized honors for country music artists. Since the music stage concert is in Nashville, Tennessee, he hopes his upcoming relocation will increase his chances of being invited. Another motivation for him is that Morgan Myles played the Grand Ole Opry on 7 January 2023 for the first time, and received a standing ovation, bringing tears to his eyes.

He started performing at Blake’s Ole Red restaurant

Blake Shelton opened his first Ole Red restaurant in Tishomingo, Oklahoma in 2017, and invited Bryce to perform there on 25 February 2023. However, the unexpected ticket sale demand forced the two to reserve a second date for the show the day before. Shortly after, he had to add two more show dates due to overwhelming requests to hear him live, on 26 February and 3 March. Bryce’s sold-out shows at the beginning of his career suggest that his coach and mentor will invite him again.

Bryce also wanted to appear on “Barmageddon,” Blake’s TV show in which two celebrities compete in five bar games. He jokingly said he wouldn’t want to get Michael Phelps, while Blake playfully proposed that he should battle fellow country singer Luke Bryan, who ‘sucks at everything.’

Bryce would design hats if offered

His cowboy hats received a lot of interest and praise throughout the reality TV show, and he called them his ‘coat of armor.’ With that in mind, Bryce joked that more hat businesses should have reached out seeking collaboration. In seriousness, he said he would design a line of hats in partnership with a company he likes.

Bryce is growing in popularity on social media

Before his TV show fame, Bryce Leatherwood uploaded several videos on to his eponymous YouTube channel, some foreshadowing, such as a June 2021 cover of Conway Twitty’s “Goodbye Time” he performed at the audition. Others were covers he performed with his band, for instance Riley Green’s “If It Wasn’t For Trucks” and “I Wish Grandpas Never Died”, and Travis Tritt’s “Help Me Hold On.” Bryce also gave viewers a preview of his songwriting abilities in February 2021, with an intimate performance of an original, entitled “Little Old Bar”.

Similarly, he has a TikTok account under the handle @bryceleatherwoodmusic, onto which he uploaded behind-the-scenes videos from the competition, and covers of popular songs. He also uploads videos that let his fans get to know him better, such as unwrapping Christmas presents in his family home.

He received praise at home and promoted some brands

Furthermore, he did a business promotion for Takamine; they gave him a guitar during the Top 10 performance, and gifted it to him at the end of the competition. Moreover, Chick-fil-A in Canton, Georgia, financially supported his musical endeavors, calling him their hometown hero. Additionally, his media renown saw him invited to Georgia Governor’s Ball in January 2023 with his mom Hope, and Cherokee County officially proclaimed that 24 January is “Bryce Leatherwood Day”, starting in 2023.

In summary, Bryce is busy, has received the recognition he sought, and he wants things to stay that way. A forthcoming album release and a move to Nashville will do wonders for his music career.

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