Rucker trying out for ‘The Voice’ in New York

Published 9:17 pm Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Kendall Rucker, 23, of Cassopolis, creates art and sings.

Kendall Rucker of Cassopolis will be at Summer in the City today.

Kendall Rucker of Cassopolis will be at Summer in the City today.

The former brings him to downtown Dowagiac for today’s 28th annual Summer in the City Festival.

The latter takes him to New York Sunday to audition for “The Voice.”

The freelance artist’s dual talents perhaps made him stand out since his audition tape ended with him flipping over his Sketchpad to reveal caricatures of the four judges.

The Voice returns to NBC Monday, Sept. 23, with Christina Aguilera and CeeLo Green back alongside Adam Levine and Blake Shelton after Shakira and Usher filled in last season.

Rucker, only child of former comedian Kenny and Adriene Rucker, graduated from Ross Beatty High School in 2008 and attended Southwestern Michigan College.

“Everything’s filmed in Los Angeles,” Rucker said Wednesday at the depot, where his aunt, Phyllis Ifill, dispatches Dial-A-Ride.

Besides selling his art downtown to defray his $800 travel expenses and a car wash which took place previously, Rucker aims to raise the other $400 with a barbecue in front of Aaron’s on Spruce Street on Saturday.

“(Casting coordinator Summer Pennino) contacted me by email after they saw my video,” said Rucker, whose renditions of the Commodores’ “Zoom” and “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston can be viewed on YouTube.

As an artist, Rucker created a series of copyrighted multicultural cartoon characters called “The Crumb Snatchers,” which he pitched to Nickelodeon.

“I’m basically an artist,” he said, “but if you don’t use it, you lose it, so I’ve started singing more lately. I’m a shy person and kept to myself in school. During college, I went into the choir and he (Choral Director David Carew) said I had perfect pitch. My parents encouraged me to give it a shot. I didn’t think anything was going to come from it because I waited a year, then, out of the blue, I got the email. I shot the video right after Christmas and sent it the first week of January. I kind of forgot about it and moved on. People have been very nice to see the potential I have. Everybody wants to see someone they know succeed at their dreams. My friends are very excited.”

Rucker, 6-foot-3, submitted two tracks coupled with a “walkabout of my town” — including the 1899 courthouse clock tower and the Sanctuary and Deliverance mural he worked on.

Rucker was given the option of auditioning in Austin, Texas, or St. Louis as well as New York.