Indianapolis had a lot to anticipate going into this past Tuesday: a Super Bowl bid, a Pacers playoff game, and hailing from Indy, singer Josh Kaufman was vying for the championship spotlight in the season finale of NBC’s The Voice.
Our excitement was soured early on with the announcement that Minneapolis had won the Super Bowl bid, and later the final buzzer sounded on the Pacers with the Heat winning 87-83. But we didn’t go to bed suffering the sting of a complete sweep. When Carson Daly shouted out the winner of The Voice, he shouted Josh Kaufman’s name.
Kaufman Belongs to the World
Throughout this season of The Voice, it seemed everyone was clamoring for a piece of Josh Kaufman’s success story. He was introduced as a singer from Indianapolis, but as he got closer and closer to the finale, it seemed any place Kaufman had lived for longer than a week was calling him a resident: Carmel (Indiana), Anderson University, Virginia,Florida. Everyone wanted to be the place where Kaufman came from.
These connections, as well as Kaufman’s sheer talent as a singer, pushed him to the forefront of the competition and made him champion. Unfortunately, there was nothing Indianapolis could do to help the Pacers against the Heat once the game was underway. Unless our last name was Irsay, there was nothing we could do directly to help win the Super Bowl bid. But dammit, we could help Josh.
Every single story about Kaufman in the local media told people how they could support him by voting or purchasing his songs on iTunes.Mayor Ballard took to social media to drum up votes. Anderson University held alumni viewing parties where attendees were instructed and poised to vote until their phones blew up.
In a way, Kaufman became a metaphor for all these places. He was pegged as an underdog from the beginning, because he came from underdog places. His success was Indy’s success, was Anderson’s success, was Carmel’s success.
Where You Come From Matters
So what was it that got Kaufman all of that attention? Obviously his vocal talents. The dude has some pipes, and I don’t want anything written here to seem like I’m discrediting that.
But lots of people on The Voice have pipes. Last season, Matthew Schuler and Will Champlin had a couple of the best voices I’ve ever seen on the show. But they were ultimately beat out by Jamaican singer Tessanne Chin, who matched talents vocally—and brought an entire island of support along with her. It’s worth noting that of the now six winners of The Voice, all of them came from cities and towns that don’t often share a national stage, where local support became a part of their story.
Origin story matters—where you came from and how that can resonate with people. In today’s ocean of products and choices, being great doesn’t always cut it. Of course, a great product helps, but now more than ever, people want to know where things came from. People want to say, “I knew them when…” People want to be a part of the story.
As an organization, you get to play the role of the author. You get to open your story up and invite people into it, just like Josh did. In his case, all these people from all these places felt like they had contributed something to his success. They feel like they get to own a piece of his victory. And when Kaufman’s first record comes out, guess who will be in line at Luna Records to grab a copy?