Chasing his dream: local singer auditioning for “The Voice”Published 6:34pm Tuesday, January 14, 2014
For Dowagiac’s Leo Brooks Jr., the inspiration to finally seize his dreams came not from the promise of fame and fortune, but to honor the memory of his late father and namesake.
“I lost my dad two years ago, and before he passed I told him that, no matter what, his grandkids would be taken care of,” Brooks said. “I told myself then I would try to make something more out of my life and see if I could make my music career happen.”
With those memories in mind, Brooks said he did something he could have never envisioned himself doing years earlier: he sent an audition tape to “The Voice” television show in September.
Needless to say, he was in for an even larger shock when he heard back from the producers a few weeks later, and they told him they wanted him to come down to Chicago to formally audition for the program.
“I was shocked,” Brooks said. “I was stunned, amazed. I didn’t think I would even get the confirmation they received my tape, much less that they wanted me to try out.”
Brooks will be among thousands of hopeful contestants auditioning for a coveted spot on the show this Saturday in Chicago, as the show makes its way across the country looking for talented singers to feature.
For the lifelong Dowagiac resident, the show presents an opportunity for him to showcase his lifelong passion to the entire world.
“Music has always played a big role in my life,” Brooks said. “Whether I’m listening or singing, I’m always doing something musical related.”
Brooks, who turns 37 on Wednesday, said he first started singing when he was a child, participating in his church’s band when he was only 5 years old.
“People told me that I had a really good singing voice, whether I was on stage or singing on the street,” Brooks said. “People have been telling that for years, since at least eighth-grade.”
The Dowagiac man chose to never seriously pursue a singing career, though. Since graduating from Dowagiac Union High in 1999, Brooks has held a number of jobs throughout the area, including spending 10 years working at Division Tire.
“I was one of the main guys there,” he said. “I was always the guy that would get up in the middle night, doing the after-hours calls.”
Brooks works at Axium Mobile in Cassopolis since the business opened up two years ago.
However, Brooks said he continued to practice his vocals over the years as a hobby, whether it is singing to his children or goofing off with friends and coworkers. He was also a big fan of “The Voice,” watching the music competition program since it began airing on NBC in 2011, though he never contemplated throwing his hat into the ring and joining the fray until last year.
In his audition video to the show, Brooks recited some background information about himself and why he wanted to try out for the program. He then sang two songs, “I Can’t Make You Love Me” and “I’ve Tried.”
“Those are some of my favorite songs,” Brooks said. “They helped get me to understand what I should be doing with myself.”
Brooks said he has kept news of his audition mostly to himself, though he did share the information with his family.
“My significant other and my two kids are supporting me with this,” Brooks said. “They were ecstatic when I told them the news.”
While Brooks said he is confident that he will make a strong impression with the judges on Saturday, he said that trying out for the show taught him a lesson that he will take with him, regardless of whether he makes on television.
“You never know what you can do until you try it,” he said.