Anoka High grad prepares for battle on ‘The Voice’

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Staff Writer
Since 2013, I have primarily covered the Anoka-Hennepin and Spring Lake Park school districts as well as the city of Spring Lake Park for ABC Newspapers.

Anoka High School graduate Jesse Larson, 34, has made it onto Adam Levine’s team on NBC’s hit television show “The Voice.”

Anoka High School graduate Jesse Larson is a contestant on this season of “The Voice.” Photo courtesy of NBCUniversal
Anoka High School graduate Jesse Larson is a contestant on this season of “The Voice.” Photo courtesy of NBCUniversal

Singing John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy” in a blind audition that aired Feb. 28, Levine turned around after Larson played a fast lick on his guitar, which he made in his Brooklyn Park garage several months ago.

“There’s no one with ears who should have not turned around for that,” Levine said, adding that he hears CeeLo Green and Eddie Van Halen in Larson.

Battles begin March 20 after teams fill out with vocalists following more blind auditions.

Performing in the Twin Cities, Larson usually plays lead guitar, singing only a few songs, usually back up, he said.

“Making that decision to audition was a difficult one for me,” Larson said, but his wife, Katy Larson, encouraged him every step of the way.

As a self-described “quiet and introverted” person, stepping into the limelight of the national stage has been a challenge.

“It’s been a crazy journey,” Larson said.

Larson calls his dad, who died suddenly of a heart attack in late 2015, his biggest musical influence.

“He molded me into who I am today,” Larson said.

Larson was given his first guitar at 13, but he didn’t touch it. It wasn’t until at age 16 he worked with his dad to refurbish a guitar that he really connected with the instrument.

He practiced five to eight hours a day for six months straight.

“I was so obsessed with it,” Larson said.

Larson has played many gigs in the Twin Cities, but he has also maintained a full-time job as a manager at an AutoZone parts store. That changed when Prince invited him to tour.

Larson and his band were invited to audition for Prince in February 2015. When the lights came up, Prince was gone, but Larson was invited back to jam with The Purple One. Prince was putting a band together for Judith Hill, who appeared on the fourth season of “The Voice” in 2013, and asked Larson if he would be interested.

Larson quit his job and opened for Prince with Hill for four months.

Auditioning for “The Voice,” Larson thought he might like to be on Alicia Keys’ team.

“I’m real soul-oriented,” he said.

But when Levine was the only one who turned around, the choice was made for him, and he realized it was perfect.

“Adam Levine is an amazing guitar player,” Larson said. “That’s really my identity.”

Larson said the days since his audition has aired have felt like a dream.

“I’m very grateful to have an opportunity to express myself and live out my passion on such a large scale,” he said.

Season 12 of “The Voice” is on Mondays and Tuesdays at 7 p.m.

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