Singer with local roots sings with support from fans
By John Rech firstname.lastname@example.org
Evidently there are more Barrett Baber and “The Voice” enthusiasts than Dallas Cowboy fans in Crittenden County. Double J’s Smokehouse in the Clarion Hotel had all their televisions tuned to “The Voice” as the Dallas took to the field for Monday Night Football. That’s because Marion hometown hero, Barrett Baber, was first to take the stage during the show. About 60 fans were on hand to watch Baber cross over musical genres, leaving his comfort zone of singing country-soul, to perform a pop selection, “Ghost,” a contemporary hit popularized by Ella Henderson. In an interview before the performance he promised to countryfy the song and “swamp it up.” Baber’s microphone went out toward the end of the song. The judges noticed and applauded him for pushing through. The combination of the sound malfunction and the attempt to broaden appeal with the cross-over song had the audience at the Smokehouse buzzing. Even as the conversation shifted to an appraisal of Baber’s performance, his local fan club began downloading votes — lots of votes. “The Voice” allowed up to ten votes per show. Local entrepreneur Hudson Hallum reported in social media 370 votes for Baber by putting his company and all the e-mail addresses to work on the Voice voting app. He wasn’t the only one. Billie Ginn attended the official Barrett Baber family watch party in West Memphis had gained permission from others to voted more than 600 times for the hometown hero on various e-mail addresses before the show had ended. Many local people jumped on social media to urge their contacts onto voting with Baber fervor. Electronic signs on Highway 77 also asked folks to favor Baber and vote early and often. The show offered four options to vote and fans here took advantage. Even buying a down load of the song “Ghost” that Baber sang Monday may count for a vote. David Barton, who counts votes for the county election committee, had voting block too. “Everybody at Barton Power Sports is voting for Barrett,” said Barton. “A lot of people are doing that kind of thing,” said Barrett Baber’s mom Janie. “A lot of people have opened a Twitter account just to vote Tuesday night.” All those votes amounted to enough for Baber to qualify for the top three and move onto the final next week. The four remaining contestants will perform, and one will be named champion for “The Voice” for the 2015 season on next Tuesday night. Voting included iTunes downloads of songs. Votes accrued if sales soared in to the top ten. Baber’s rendition of “Ghost” was a top seller and that solidified his “Top 3” position heading into the finale. Baber’s experience on the show has been a good one according to his mom. She said his work ethic shows through in the weekly performances. He lost more than 30 pounds to look even better on camera. Mom has seen growth in his confidence, too. “I can see his new confidence. He was always a confident performer but it seems he has taken that to a new level,” said Mrs. Baber. “This is what he told me: ‘Momma they might out-sing me, but they’re not going to out-work me’. He is 35 years old. He has a lot riding on this. He quit his teaching job. His work ethic is really strong.” She expressed gratitude for the support from fans in east Arkansas. “I am so grateful for the support of our community,” she said. “Arkansas in general, but Eastern Arkansas in particular, has been so kind and supportive and gone the extra mile.” Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., “The Voice of Arkansas,” a 30-minute special about Baber’s rise will air just before he competes live for the championship.