Kanard Thomas began to belt out a near perfect rendition of “Riding with the King” as he waited for just one of the four judges on NBC’s The Voice to push the button to send him onto their team.
That moment never came as the chairs didn’t turn until after the song was over and his dream of moving forward seemed to be over.
“When I was on stage, I knew that this was my moment,” Thomas said. “Then I didn’t get any chairs turned. Honestly I was devastated... I made so many sacrifices to make it to this stage just to be eliminated.”
The former cruise ship singer who lives in Columbus was likely headed back to sea when he got an unexpected call.
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“Next thing you know I got a call from Bebe Rexha asking me to come back,” Thomas said. “That was thrilling. It was mind blowing for her to even consider me coming back.”
This season, the Voice brought back a twist on the show called The Comeback Stage. It is a nine-part digital series that follows a group of six artists like Thomas who didn’t get a chair turn. The group will have a chance to earn their way back onto the main show.
“The moment he opened his mouth it was just so effortless,” Rexha said on the show. “I think that is the best kind of talent when it is just natural like that.”
Thomas, a Hardaway High School graduate, moved to Columbus from Jacksonville, Florida, as a teenager.
“I just needed a change in my life and it was the best move I could have ever made,” he said. “I got into chorus. Our chorus won many awards, I was also in quartet for three years where we won first place in state literary competitions.”
Thomas said some of his favorites moments have come from singing around the city of Columbus with the traveling quartet.
“The most exciting and thrilling moment in Columbus was the Miss Georgia Pageant in 2006,” he said. “For a teenager, speaking for myself, that was the biggest moment of my life because so much went into it...we were like mini-celebrities around Columbus.”
Thomas would go on to work for Holland America Cruise Lines in the B.B. King All-Stars Blues Band. Going from singing on a cruise ship to singing in front of Kelly Clarkson, Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, John Legend and Rexha has been a change.
“It’s been a huge difference, a big transition in my life,” Thomas said. “Going from being on the cruise ship to imagining one day being able to sing on stage of The Voice in front of the well known celebrities who have so much that they can help me out with, it has been amazing.”
At 19, Thomas welcomed his son Christian into the world. The two are very close and while Christian is more interested in sports like soccer than music, Thomas said his son has been his biggest inspiration on this journey.
“That is the main reason I go as hard as I do now,” he said. “That is my motivation. I want to be able to show him what it takes to reach your dreams and the hard work that goes into it.”
After the chairs didn’t turn, Christian, 10, was devastated by the news that his dad wouldn’t be moving onto the next round. But when Rexha called, Christian’s whole attitude changed once he knew his dad would be headed back to The Voice, Thomas said.
“He was so excited, He was shouting around the house showing so much excitement. He even said it’s a dream come true,” Thomas said. “Just knowing that he has been rooting for me and behind me 100 percent just makes it all worthwhile.
Thomas, who patterns himself after his favorite artist and Atlanta native Usher, said he is shooting for the top on the show but wants to continue to pursue his career in music regardless of the outcome.
“My long-term goal on The Voice is to win,” he said. “I would love to put out a debut album just to basically show the world that I have what it takes to be an artist and I am not only here just to sing, but to touch people and move them.”