Jo Anne Embleton
Jacksonville Daily Progress
Eloise Thomas cannot remember a time when her grandson, Terry McCoy, wasn't singing.
“He loved to sing – all three of them grandkids sung, they had good voices,” the Jacksonville resident said of McCoy and his siblings, Randy and Keitha.
“But he was so little that I can't remember how old he was when he started singing” at church services where Thomas played piano, she said, recalling how she would seat him in the front pew while she played.
“He'd stand on the front seat and mimic his grandpa,” Milton Thomas, a church deacon, who preached at services, she said, laughing at the
When McCoy, 40, told her he would be auditioning in Nashville Feb. 1 for “The Voice,” a televised music competition, Thomas really wasn't surprised.
“Well, I was and wasn't, actually – for a particular show, I guess I'd say yes, I was surprised, but he's very good at singing,” she said. “But I'm very
McCoy, a 1991 Jacksonville High School graduate who attended Jacksonville Baptist College on a “full-ride” vocal scholarship, is riding a wave of hope that he will land a spot on the show, which premieres on NBC Feb. 24, with musicians Shakira, Blake Shelton, Adam Levine and Usher coaching teams that compete against each other.
Laughing, McCoy described himself “an old man compared to most of the other auditioners.”
“But that's okay,” he said. “I haven't reached the end of my life's story.”
Currently living in Bossier City, La., where he is a painting contractor, McCoy also is a writer for ASCAP, a national performing rights organization that represents nearly half a million songwriters, composers and music publishers.
“I've submitted about 30 songs, and about a dozen of those I started writing in 1996 or 1997 and had left alone for years before recently coming back and finishing them,” he said, adding that he writes Christian music. “I'm in that waiting period where you put your songs out there, but usually have to wait about a year before you hear back from them.”
The decision to audition for “The Voice” came about the same time he and his 11-year-old daughter, Haley Raine, began talking about what her future plans were.
“She knows exactly what she wants to be when she grows up: A meteorologist. She wants to live her life, she's on fire, and she's looking to me for advice. And I'm thinking, 'I've never reached the point where I've done what God created me to do,'” he recalled. “And it was hard for me to push or encourage her.”
Watching the televised competition has been a favorite past-time of father and daughter for several years, and at one point – about the same period he came to the realization that Haley was looking to him for guidance – she turned away from the TV screen and looked McCoy in the eye and said, 'Dad, you should try out for this. Because you would win.'
“And I'd been having dreams that I was singing on 'The Voice,' dreams that I couldn't stop having every night,” he said. “Finally, I figured maybe I should audition, thinking, 'I can do this – I am able. I am capable. I am equipped to do everything on that show.' Even though I'm thinking, 'but I'm 40!' I think you're never too old to pursue your dreams.”
He and a friend will travel together Jan. 31 to Nashville, the final of four audition sites for this year's show.
“They say on average, 30 to 40 people are chosen out of thousands of auditions at this first level,” McCoy said. “I'm sure (judges) are looking for people being their original selves, so this old man is going to get in there and hang with the best of them.”
Self-taught to play piano and guitar, McCoy said he won't get a chance to play during the initial audition, where candidates perform songs a capella.
His audition selections? “'Second Chance,' by Shine Down, which is a rock song,” he said. “The other is John Mayer's 'Waiting on the World to Change.'”
Should he be called back, he'll add the Keith Urban country song “Somebody like You” to his repertoire.
His vocal training as a college student will come in handy – “when you're properly trained, things get locked in (and) you're not thinking about what you have to do, but you (instinctly) do it corectly” – and will help him to focus on the message he's trying to send judges.
“You have to sell that song to people, whatever you sing. You have to sell it in such a way that people believe what you're singing,” McCoy said.
Regardless of the outcome of his Nashville audition, McCoy said he will treasure the experience, because for him, “it's always been about the journey.”
Meanwhile, young Haley “is beside herself, ecstatic” about his chance to be part of “The Voice” experience, he added.
“I finally let her know officially that I was going to audition – she just looked at me and smiled, and said, 'Dad, I'm proud of you.' There will not be a bigger fan than my daughter,” he said.
Unless it's his grandma.
“If he doesn't make it, I still say he is great,” said Thomas, who plays the piano for services at Afton Grove Baptist Church in Jacksonville. “He's a very good musician. Although Terry does say he wished he had listened to me and learned to read music.”
Follow Terry's journey on his website, www.terrymccoymusic.com, which also has links to a Facebook page, Twitter account and YouTube.