May 20--Who are the Muskogee brothers who will perform on NBC's "The Voice" today?
The Swon Brothers, Zach and Colton, who are now in the top 10 on the popular music competition television show, are much more than rising country music stars, their family, friends and fans say.
The brothers took a few minutes before rehearsal late last week to talk about their early start as performers and how grateful they are for the voters keeping them on the show.
Plus they talked about how they're doing in California as they prepared for today's live performance.
"Bon Jovi said it best -- we're living on a prayer," Colton said. "And we want to thank our fans for their votes because they are really changing our lives."
Colton and Zach began their musical careers early in life -- little boys up on stage at church singing with their parents' gospel group "Exodus."
At first, they just sang for the rewards, the brothers joked.
"Our parents put us on stage singing with the band, and we couldn't even really pronounce the words of the song," Colton said, and laughed. "But one thing I remember is there was always one guy on the front row that would give us a candy bar and a dollar if we got up and sang."
Zach and Colton grew up singing with their parents' group, singing in church at New Hope Assembly of God in Muskogee and performing at the Westwood Music Show at the Wagoner Civic Center.
They credit those experiences with teaching them to be not only musicians, but entertainers too, they said.
"We played on the worship team for years. That was our stomping grounds for a very long time," Colton said. "And I tell you what, the amount of support that we have from the church family has been amazing. They send up prayers every day for us. We represent who we are as people and our faith, and I'm glad that they have faith in us to do that well."
Colton said one of the people they learned most about music from was Terry Roach, choir director at their church.
Zach said another source of musical inspiration for the brothers was performing on the Westwood Music Show at the Wagoner Civic Center for several years when they were very young.
The Westwood show was a musical variety show the brothers' parents Tammy and Kelly Swon began in 1995, when Zach was 9.
"I think that took us through lots of stages of learning to entertain people," Zach said. "At first, we would do a skit, or sing something from the '50s -- specialty stuff to get the crowd warmed up, and that gave us experience."
Zach said as the years progressed performing at the variety show, he and Colton progressed to playing music more and more.
"Honestly, I don't think either one of us have ever had a formal guitar or piano lesson," Zach said. "We learned by watching the Class A musicians putting on the Westwood show."
"The Voice" continues at 7 p.m. today, when the 10 remaining contestants perform live for the audience vote.
The results of today's show will air at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
The Swon Brothers said they hope the support they've been getting continues.
The talent pool on "The Voice" is "incredible," and he expects every week to get more difficult, Zach said.
"Just keep voting," he said. "We appreciate it, and it really does count."
Reach Wendy Burton at (918) 684-2926 or email@example.com.
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