Music Spotlight: Tae Lewis

Jun 21, 2024 at 04:30 am by Bethany Bowman

Having lived in Nashville for more than twelve years, I have learned you never know who you will meet or see perform at a random writers’ round who may become the next big thing. And even though I only watch bits and pieces of the music competition shows, I was watching The Voice this year because Music Spotlight artist, Donny Van Slee, was on it.

But I got the shock of my life when I saw Tae Lewis in the Knockout Round. When he sang Cody Johnson’s “Nothing on You,” you could have picked me up off the floor. I remember sitting next to Lewis at the Listening Room a few years back. His friend introduced him as a new artist in town (of which there are literally hundreds).

Tae Lewis, like most of the people I interviewed, got his start singing in church. His dad was a pastor, so he was there all the time, and he was singing. He sang a CeCe Winans song when he was just five years old. Singing gospel music every week on stage was just the training the North Carolina native needed to become a competent, confident performer.

He recalled, “I just immersed myself into really understanding how to be an artist and what it takes to really show people what I can do as an artist.”

But a serendipitous encounter led him to love country music at age 13. They got new neighbors who were die-hard country music fans. They listen to everything from 80s country to early 2000s, bands like Restless Heart and Shenandoah.

Lewis went up to them and asked, “What is this?” And they told him, “This is country music.”

It immediately sparked Lewis’s interest and he wanted to learn more about it. He dove in and honed his craft while he embraced his newfound genre.

Initially, Lewis got his start in upstate New York. He was playing at this bar and everyone just assumed he would sing R&B or pop. They had never seen a black country artist there so they didn’t know how it would work out. It was a tough time not being accepted, but eventually, he was contacted by Holly G. who runs the Black Opry, and she asked him to be part of their show.

When he moved to Nashville, thankfully, Color Me Country host, Rissi Palmer, also recognized his talent and gave him the motivation to keep going.

In 2020, he released an autobiographical tune, “When I Grew Up.” But his breakthrough came with a sync placement on the hit TV show "Shameless" for his track "Good Luvin," earning him national recognition. In the Summer of 2023, Tae was also named the Tractor Supply Emerging Artist of the Year, receiving mentorship from country music superstars Lauren Alaina and Lainey Wilson.

Last year, Lewis auditioned online for NBC’s The Voice with a Randy Houser song, and it was like the 5th time he had tried out, so he didn’t think much more about it. Fifteen minutes later, he got a call to meet the executive producers.

The song he sang for the blind audition was Keith Urban’s “Somebody Like You,” a song about loving yourself before you can love someone else. The song was very personal to Lewis because, for a long time, he did not feel like he had a place in country music.

And while the country tenor secretly hoped that Dan + Shay would turn around, John Legend and Reba pressed the buzzer and initially, he was on Reba’s team. He further impressed the judges with his rendition of Randy Houser’s “Runnin’ Out of Moonlight.”

When Lewis got knocked out by the eventual Season 25 winner, Asher Havon, Dan + Shay scooped him up which led the country crooner to the semi-finals with songs such as Shenandoah’s “The Church on Cumberland Road,” Dan + Shay’s “19 You + Me,” Lonestar’s “Amazed,” and Hunter Hayes, “Wanted.”

Ultimately, he did not win, but while singing several of my all-time favorite country songs, he gained a huge new following. The Voice’s Season 25 had some of the strongest vocalists I have witnessed in a singing competition show.

People have now started paying attention to the extraordinary, energetic performer and they have turned on to some of his original tunes such as the rollicking “A Lot to Drink About” and the magical summer song, “Summer of ’21.”

Now he has released a new summer anthem, “Like You Do.” It’s a feel-good song that reminds the girl to keep being herself because that is what drew her to him in the first place.

“I think we need more songs like they had in the early 2000s that captivate what love really is and how to show love. I wrote this song for my future wife, not only for her but for others who are wanting to get married. It’s a reminder not to ever change who you are,” he shared.

Even though it has certainly been challenging, Lewis is grateful for the ups and downs he has experienced in pursuing a career as a black country artist. “It’s all God’s plan,” he stated.

Now that the rest of the world knows what an amazing talent Lewis has, I am sure that we are going to be seeing a lot more of him in the near future.

Make sure to follow Tae Lewis on his website, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, X, YouTube, and all streaming platforms.

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Bethany Bowman is a freelance entertainment writer. You can follow her blogInstagram, and X.