By Hayley Fedor
With his classic, old-time country voice, Southern charm and the ultimate mullet to match, Dover resident and Strawberry Crest High School 2016 graduate Kenzie Wheeler took his chances auditioning on NBC’s singing competition, The Voice, and blew the judges away. His performance of Keith Whitley’s “Don’t Close Your Eyes” caused not just one, but all four judges to turn their chairs in approval.
Wheeler’s passion for singing and country music stems from his mother’s love for the genre which she passed on to him over the years.
“Growing up listening in the car and my mom would always play CDs in the living room on our old stereo, so that’s kind of where it came from. Since I was little, I’ve always loved country music,” said Wheeler.
Born and raised in the Dover area, Wheeler became involved in the community through music as he got older, singing karaoke both at home and at Uncle Mike’s Bar and Grill in Plant City weekly during high school. This led to many other opportunities for Wheeler, like releasing his own album titled Dover in 2018.
His journey with The Voice began last year with a video performance he sent to the show, which led to his first audition in North Carolina and then in California for the blind auditions in front of The Voice judges.
Despite a few performance nerves, Wheeler said, “Once I took a deep breath and walked out on stage, I started singing and I always get in kind of a zone.”
When it came down to choosing a coach, Kelly Clarkson became a clear choice for Wheeler, given that Blake Shelton had been blocked and Clarkson had won with two country artists before on the show.
During the audition, Shelton made an unforgettable reference to Wheeler’s mullet, calling him a “unicorn” with “the party in the back, he’s got the shaved sides, but then the rare widow’s peak.” Inspired by his dad and a few of his friends with mullets, Wheeler decided to grow his out a few years back and now it is part of his identity; plus, his fans love it.
“I just hope that they can relate to me and the songs I sing on the show; obviously, I hope they like my voice and whatever music I come out with in the future,” said Wheeler.
Be sure to keep an eye out for Wheeler’s next performance on The Voice, which will air on NBC in the upcoming weeks.