By the Evening Times News Staff firstname.lastname@example.org
[Editor’s Note: This is the first in a 5-part series counting down the top news stories of 2015. We will look at two per day, culminating with the top stories on New Year’s Day, Friday Jan. 1, 2016]
It seemed the entire City of Marion, along with a big chunk of Crittenden County and the rest of the country, couldn’t get enough of Barrett Baber. The hometown musician Barrett Baber won favor with viewers on the popular NBC singing competition, “The Voice” this fall. It was perhaps his rendition of “Walking in Memphis” that truly nailed down Baber’s legitimacy in the competition. Regular Baber “watch party” sessions at the Double J Smokehouse in West Memphis for the Monday night airing of the show became a staple as locals watched Baber work his way through the competition. “From the moment you stepped on the stage for the audition round, I was sure you were a professional singer,” said Judge Gwen Stefani in her evaluation of Baber. “You are incredible.” His coach on “The Voice,” Blake Shelton, gave Baber more kudos on the show. “Barrett is definitely a guy that has a future in music,” said Shelton. “He is just a special guy to be around,” Local fans that knew Barrett “back in the day” couldn’t have agreed more with that assessment. “I love that he is from around here,” said his former Marion High School speech and drama teacher Connie Simpson. “He loves the country soul style and has a unique voice that everyone loves.” Fans pointed out that Baber’s recent celebrity is the result of years of hard work and that the label of overnight success just would not be fair. “Many musicians don’t like the American Idol or America’s Got Talent or The Voice because, they think people become overnight stars,” said Marion musician Wally Fowler. “But Barrett’s been doing it all his life, working hard, hard. He’s been a backup musician for many stars. He’s played in little places, sometimes just for a few people. You can’t say this guy hasn’t worked for it, he has. I think some of his own songs are better than what you hear on country radio.” Even some of our local elected officials enjoyed watching Baber’s wild ride. “I’ve never seen the judges be as excited about any singer as they were about Barrett,” said County Sheriff Mike Allen. “When he auditioned they all turned around right away to see who had this wonderful voice. He’s got to be their favorite.” “He has worked hard all his life,” said dad Mark Baber. “I knew from the time he was in children’s choir that he could take command on the stage. He set aside teaching when he started to hear about The Voice. No matter how it all turns out, he’ll never have regrets because he pursued his dream.” Mom Janie Baber was overwhelmed with the support her son received, keeping fans informed with insider information and voting tips throughout the season on Facebook. Ultimately, Baber made it to the final round of the competition, finishing in third place overall. Although he didn’t win the top prize, he won millions of fans over and his career in the music business seems far from over.