Local musician finishes in top three on The Voice

Many people try out for a network talent show with the dream of becoming a star, but few get chosen, and even fewer make it past the early rounds of competition. The odds are stacked heavily against them, but one young man from Watson beat the odds.
Livingston Parish’s own Hunter Plake finished strong as a semi-finalist on the most recent season of NBC’s The Voice, a popular vocal competition TV show. Even though Hunter was eliminated just short of the final round, don’t count him out just yet. This 21-year-old has an incredibly bright future on the horizon and some breaking news in the works.
Hunter was an instant standout on the show, not just because of his amazing voice and good looks, but also for his genuine personality and his strong Christian faith. Those are traits that his dad says have always come naturally.
plake2“He is just that person – genuine, sincere, humble,” Bud Plake said. “He’s been performing and leading worship since he was eleven. Hunter is a singer, songwriter, pianist and keyboard player, guitarist, and he’s exceptional on drums. Plus, he’s an engineer and can operate all equipment in the studio.”
Hunter grew up attending Freedom Church in Denham Springs and went to college at Crossroads Leadership College in Lafayette.
Plake said, “His pastor immediately put Hunter on the main stage at church where he performed weekly in front of about three-thousand people. Hunter nurtured his talent there and got great experience under his belt that sent him to try out for The Voice.
“It’s funny, because when Hunter got to the show, he called us and said this place is much smaller than what I’m used to, and the microphone and the equipment aren’t as nice as what we have at church,” Plake related.
The Voice competition plays out on television over about a two-month period, but it was more like a year-long process for Hunter from start to finish. It started with submitting a video, then auditions and casting calls at a New Orleans studio. Then came a brief trip to Los Angeles to meet with producers of the show.
“After Hunter was selected to be part of the cast, he had to go through so many intense evaluations like mental evaluations, medical screenings, psychological tests…all to make sure these young people are stable, healthy, and have the mental stability to face a live show and audience, and the pressure of it all,” Plake revealed.
Later, Hunter was in Los Angeles for about a month for the blind auditions where he was chosen by celebrity coach Gwen Stefani. Then, he came home for about two weeks before heading back to L.A. for the start-up of the show. So, how do parents feel, watching their son go thru this process and performing in front of a live national TV audience?plake
“To be honest, we were very, very nervous. That’s the only way I can describe it. It’s just the most nerve- wracking moment,” his father admitted. “Hunter would call me before he went on air. He was so cool, so calm, so poised. These are were such high-stress performances, but Hunter always remained cool and focused. He was great! I was nervous!”
Hunter actually set-up a portable working music studio inside his hotel room. The show’s hours were strenuous as were practice schedules, but the show producers allowed Hunter to produce all of his own music that he used on stage.
“My wife Youra and I traveled back and forth to watch Hunter perform,” Bud Plake explained. “She went three or four times and was there for the special Mother’s Day interview and performance on the show. I went two or three times, and we were always just so proud. Not just of Hunter’s performances but of the amazing and genuine young man he’s become.”
Hunter‘s character shined on and off stage. He told his producers that while he does want to become a pop artist, he explained to them that he has high standards and refuses to submit to negative or distasteful lyrics. Hunter told them he has a strong conviction of who he is and that no one can make him do something he doesn’t believe in.
“I don’t know many 21 year-olds who would turn down being the opening headliner for a Vegas show,” Bud Plake said. “The casting director called the week after the show ended, and my son turned down a half million dollars saying he doesn’t want to go to Vegas to start a career. I just could not have been more proud of Hunter. Our talents are God’s gifts to us. What we do with those talents are our gifts to God. Both of my sons know who they are, how fortunate they are, and now they’re going to share their talents and follow their hearts and their dreams.”
So, what’s next for this talented young man, and his amazing voice and musical abilities? He just finished producing a single with his 18-year-old brother, Dakota, who recently graduated from Walker High School. With Hunter’s contract with The Voice ended, “Eden,” the song they recorded independently, was ready for release.
Dakota plays bass for the brothers’ Indie pop band – now aptly renamed Plake – for live performances and when they’re in the studio. Hunter has credited him as being “the creative mind behind the band.”

Hunter and his wife of a year, lost their new house, car and their church in last August’s floods. They are staying with his parents in Lafayette, but Hunter hopes to come back soon to the place he calls home.

Hunter and his wife of a year, lost their new house, car and their church in last August’s floods. They are staying with his parents in Lafayette, but Hunter hopes to come back soon to the place he calls home.

Hunter’s wife of one year, Bethany Plake, is his assistant, while his father, who himself played in a Christian rock band, is their business manager.
“Hunter wants to prove himself and his abilities before he signs with a recording label. He’s doing everything right,” said Bud Plake.
After being eliminated from competition, Hunter commented that he didn’t try out for The Voice just to try to win; he also knew his performances on the show would give him invaluable national exposure. He has built followings of more than 30,500 on Twitter, 18,000 on Facebook and 44,600 on Instagram with many of the songs he sang on the show going to the top of iTunes.
Hunter wants to thank all his Louisiana fans for their support, especially those here in Livingston Parish. He and his wife lost their new house, car and their church in last August’s floods, and they and Dakota are staying with his parents in Lafayette, but Hunter hopes to come back soon to the place he calls home.
But that may be awhile, because after his song “Eden,” from the album of the same name, debuted July 13, the next day it went to number 47 on pop charts and 194 on general charts. His next single is slated to be “Hurricane Lovers,” which has a release date of August 12.
He now hopes that publicity and popularity he’s so grateful for will translate into more record sales as he and Bethany continues to chase their dream.

By Kellee Hennessy Dickerson

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