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Boonville native and ex-Watertown-based reservist to appear on “The Voice”


BOONVILLE — A Boonville native and former Army reservist based in Watertown is expected to appear on NBC’s televised singing competition “The Voice.”

Shawn “Big Sexy” Smith, Utica, son of Robert and Nora Smith and a 1999 graduate of Adirondack Central School, recently went to Los Angeles and performed before the show’s judges, Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green, in hopes of earning a spot on one of their teams, according to his mother.

“It’s such a wonderful opportunity,” Mrs. Smith said.

The competition, in which the judges initially select 12-member teams of vocalists based on blind auditions, airs at 8 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays. This will be the third and final week of the auditions, with only eight slots left to be filled, so the audition of Mr. Smith — who was included in a promotional video of the show — is expected to be shown within the next episode or two.

“I’m going to be watching it Monday,” his mother said.

Mrs. Smith and her husband, a former Boonville police chief and current security officer at the Lewis County Courthouse in Lowville, said they do not know how their son fared, since they did not attend the taping in California. And, because of the show’s requisite nondisclosure agreements, they wouldn’t have been allowed to spill the proverbial beans even if they had been there.

The 32-year-old contestant, who served for several years as a combat engineer with the Watertown-based 479th Engineer Battalion, including a one-year tour in Iraq, performs with the cover band Showtime, as well as in a duo called Poor Tim.

“They’re one of the premier bands in Central New York,” Mrs. Smith said of Showtime, noting it plays an eclectic set ranging from songs of the 1950s and ’60s to more contemporary tunes.

She said her son, who got his start in music by singing in school choruses and participating in school plays, after high school attended Herkimer County Community College, Herkimer, and was introduced to the band while waiting tables at the time.

He eventually joined the group, which played at his wedding, and has been able to support himself through music, both through touring the college campus circuit as a duet and playing in a wide range of venues throughout the region, Mrs. Smith said. Showtime has even played at McDonald’s Corp. in Chicago, Ill., after one of the corporation leaders with a camp in Old Forge saw the band play in that Herkimer County resort town, she said.

“We’re proud of him,” Mrs. Smith said. “I guess you have to follow your dreams.”

And performing on a nationally televised stage should be helpful for his career, no matter how he fares.

“The process is very long and very tedious,” Mrs. Smith said. “I give him a lot of credit for hanging in there.”

After a friend prompted him to audition for “The Voice” a couple of days before the event, Mr. Smith traveled to the Javits Center in New York City to try out with about 40,000 other hopefuls, she said.

That led to a couple of more trips to New York City, then more trips to Los Angeles before being chosen to try out in front of the four celebrity judges.

After teams are formed, contestants are narrowed down through coaches’ selections. The winner ultimately is selected through viewers’ votes. The victor receives $100,000 and a record deal through Universal Music Group.

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