Noah Guthrie knows that there are always going to be people at his shows who want to hear the covers. They want to hear the guy who started his own YouTube channel eight years ago giving pop songs like Selena Gomez’s “A Year Without Rain” or “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley a stripped-down-but-soulful acoustic treatment.
Or they want to hear the guy who played Roderick on Season Six of the Fox hit Glee, putting some razzle-dazzle into the classic rocker “Mustang Sally” or George Michael’s “Father Figure.”
Or maybe they want to hear the guy who went on America’s Got Talent in 2018 and, after a shaky start, wowed the judges with a gritty, soulful solo acoustic version of the Allman Brothers Band’s “Whipping Post” and made it all the way to the semifinal round before being eliminated.
Guthrie knows all of this. And he’s OK with it. Well, sort of.
“I think you’d have to ask me on different nights,” Guthrie says with a laugh. “As a whole, it doesn’t bother me, because most of the covers I perform live, I absolutely love, so it’s about picking the songs I’m happy with and that I truly have fun performing. Now if I did a show and had a crowd of people who only wanted those songs all the time, that’s a different feeling, but it doesn’t really happen that much anymore. I have fans that love my original stuff and they’re making that journey with me.”
The “original stuff” that Guthrie is talking about is the material he’s been recording with his band, Good Trouble, since 2013. That music tends toward acoustic-electric roots-rock, falling under the increasingly broad umbrella of Americana. Guthrie has put out two full-length albums and various singles (including the just-released “Moment”) since 2013, which was long before he made it onto TV, and perhaps that’s the reason he sees his time in the spotlight as more of a side trip than his actual destination.
“It was a little bit of a detour,” he says. “I put out that first album and we did a lot of touring, and then Glee kind of came out of nowhere, and then America’s Got Talent kind of came out of nowhere, and suddenly I was putting all of my energy into making good TV shows instead of making really good music.”
Those “detours” were seen by millions of people, though, which means that many music fans know him better for his pop music than his own music. That might get under some people’s skin, but Guthrie regards his TV time as a net positive, even if it cost him some time working on his original songs.
“It got my name out there,” he reasons. “It got me a lot of publicity. It was kind of a trade off because I shifted my focus. But right now I’m shifted back into my own thing.”
And from Guthrie’s perspective, his own thing has been surprisingly popular with his fans, many of whom have been on board since his YouTube days.
“I can’t really speak for all of them, but most of them have been really supportive of everything I’ve done,” he says. “A lot of people who followed me back then have stuck with me and been really supportive.”
In fact, the transition back to his own music was more uncomfortable for him than it was his fans.
“It’s always kind of weird when you have to shift gears,” he explains. “Going back to my own music was kind of a weird thing, but I’ve been doing it since before I was on a TV show, and I’ve been doing it for a long time since. So it was kind of a second nature thing. Once I got back into writing my own music and touring and stuff, I just kind of got back in that groove really quick.”
And Guthrie didn’t come back empty handed from his time on TV. Thanks to America’s Got Talent, he has some new tricks up his sleeve.
“I’m thinking now about what I can do vocally,” he says, “and about what I can do on stage to make things fun. America’s Got Talent helped me a lot with that because I was spending a lot of time with a vocal coach who would push me and change things around to accentuate the big vocal moments to get a crowd out of their seats. So I’m using tactics I was taught there to create a few moments in the show that can really hit people and make them feel something.”
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