SPRINGFIELD, MO — It was not a big surprise to fans of The Voice that Jordan Smith took the crown last night (Dec. 15, 2015), winning $100,000 and a recording contract.
His vocal performances have been nothing short of stunning, with songs ranging from the Christmas classic, “Mary, Did You Know,’ to the Queen classic “Somebody to Love.”
But did you know that the Harlan, Kentucky, native has very strong, albeit indirect ties to the Ozarks?
The voice behind The Voice is a graduate of Evangel University.
Smith’s vocal teacher for the past 2-1/2 years has been Evangel University graduate Dr. Ron Brendel.
Brendel graduated from Evangel with honors in 1983, with a degree in Vocal Music Education. At Evangel, he toured with the Concert Choir, sang in the Choral, and won honors at state competitions.
Looking at the roots to this talent tree, Dr. Brendel’s voice teacher at Evangel, Dr. Bonnie Jenkins, is still there.
“Ron studied with me for his full four years at Evangel,” said Jenkins, professor of music and director of Evangel’s touring music group Heartsong.
“He was an outstanding tenor. I knew he would pursue graduate studies and become a great teacher, because he was a serious and disciplined student,” said Jenkins.
Brendel earned his master’s and doctoral degrees at Temple University in Philadelphia.
He taught voice at EU’s sister school, Central Bible College, in the late 1980s and early 1990s; and he now teaches voice at Lee University in Cleveland, Tenn., where Smith is a student.
Brendel was present at the studio for the final week of The Voice.
A feature story in the Dec. 15, 2015 edition of the Chattanooga Times Free Press said:
As a studio instructor at Lee, Brendel says he taught Smith vocal technique through classical music literature. He trained the singer in breathing technique, tone production, intonation — basic fundamentals that enable a singer to cross over into any genre. Just watch Smith’s video of last Monday’s iTunes chart-topping performance of Queen’s “Somebody to Love” to see proof it works.
“That’s not even remotely in our literature!” laughs Brendel of the song. “You just bank on the fact that technique is technique. If you learn how to use the instrument, it doesn’t matter what genre you sing.”
Chattanooga Times Free Press
Dec. 15, 2015 — FEATURE STORY: Ron Brendel’s pupil might be the next ‘Voice’
Dec. 16, 2015 — INTERVIEW with Ron:
Dec. 27, 2015 — This story from EU was featured in the Sunday paper, across the top of page three: