Josh Kaufman's story is not much different from the thousands of people who audition for reality talent-show competitions.
Whether it's American Idol, America's Got Talent or, in Kaufman's case, The Voice, the wanna-bees arrive at the audition site in the early-morning hours, sit outside (usually at a football stadium or similarly large-sized venue) in the midday sun and into the early evening waiting for their chance at stardom.
Oh, and if you think Jennifer Lopez, Howard Stern or Adam Levine is waiting for them inside an air-conditioned trailer, think again. Those first auditions take place in front of producers -- nameless, faceless people you have never heard of and never will -- but that's where the weeding-out process begins.
The chosen few are then called back and asked to audition in front of the celebrity judging panel, with cameras rolling and well-groomed host (think Ryan Seacrest, Nick Cannon, etc.) waiting in the hallway. If successful, they show up on our television screens.
What separates Kaufman from the thousands of others who audition, is that he is the reigning, Season 6 champion of The Voice. Along with fellow competitors from Season 6 and other seasons, Kaufman will be coming to Lowell Memorial Auditorium on Thursday, July 3, as part of The Voice tour. The show, which begins at 7:30 p.m., features Tessanne Chin, Jacquie Lee, Will Champlin and Dia Frampton from past seasons and Season 6 contestants Jake Worthington, Christina Grimmie, Jake Barker, Kristen Merlin and Kaufman.
While many of his fellow competitors are fresh-faced 20-somethings entering adulthood, the 38-year-old Kaufman is a married father of a 6-year-old daughter, 4-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter.
He wasn't very familiar with reality television when he drove from Indianapolis to St. Louis last July for his audition. "I never watch much of those shows," Kaufman told The Sun in a recent phone interview just before the start of tour rehearsals. "I don't watch much of anything on TV, to be honest.
But he had watched a little of The Voice. "It seemed more interesting than American Idol or other shows. I liked the format. They seemed to remain positive about everybody. I really appreciated that."
And as someone who derived half of his income as a musician (the other half from working as a tutor for standardized tests), you might think he breezed through the audition process. And you would be wrong.
After making the four-hour drive to St. Louis, he was in the second group of auditions so after arriving on site at 1 p.m., he didn't audition until 7 p.m. "It was in a room with two people," Kaufman said of the audition. "They tried to simulate a blind audition and not really look at you too much and listen to what you were doing.
He advanced to the blind auditions in September and October against a field of about 120 people. Those were in Los Angeles. If you're wondering how he told people he was competing on a reality show without telling them how he was doing, here's your answer.
"Through all the pre-taped stuff (although his season began airing in January, the show doesn't go live until April), I could only tell people I'm going to be on this week's show. I couldn't tell them I made it through. The only time I could tell them everything is when it went live."
He told the tutoring clients that he was on a television show without spilling the details. "The good thing for me is both of my jobs are self-employed. I scheduled everything. That made it easy for me. I would be home for four weeks, schedule everything, and then leave."
His path through the show began when all four coaches turned their chairs around, giving Kaufman the choice of mentors. He chose Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine for stylistic reasons. Then, when the show advanced to battle rounds, Levine picked the guy Kaufman competed against, so Usher took Kaufman.
Although the coaches make their picks early on, once the show goes live, every week is decided through a fan vote, leaving Kaufman as the most popular contestant of the season. In fact, he never even ended up in the bottom three where he faced elimination.
The tour has nine singers in a 90-minute show and Kaufman says each singer has at least one solo song with plenty of group numbers and duets. "It's a good mix of styles. It's very similar to the actual show, with a lot of covers and recognizable songs," he said.
The Voice Tour comes to Lowell Memorial Auditorium on Thursday, July 3, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $65, $45 and $35 and can be purchased at lowellauditorium.com.