A couple with a local connection shared their story of mission trips and adoption with the nation, and now viewers can continue to follow their journey.
Viewers of “The Voice,” a televised singing competition, featured the story of Kaleb and Meagan Lee, who had two biological daughters, and whose mission trips compelled them to adopt their now 4-year-old son, Johander, from Nicaragua. Then Meagan, who grew up in the Center Grove area, graduating from Center Grove High School in 2006, and the couple’s three children went on stage as Kaleb Lee decided he wanted country recording artist Blake Shelton to coach him through the show.
“They had been a huge support and encouragement to me,” he said. “It was important to me for them to be a part of that moment.”
After a close call when Kaleb Lee was nearly cut from the show, viewers can continue to watch him in the singing competition. “The Voice” airs at 8 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays on NBC, and the season premiere featured 48 singers, culled from thousands across the nation, competing for a record contract. Each singer works with a celebrity coach in the music business. After his audition, Shelton and “American Idol” winner Kelly Clarkson fought over who would get to coach Kaleb Lee on the reality series.
Kaleb Lee said he has always loved music and his singing is part of the reason why Meagan Lee fell in love with him when they were students together at Emory College in Kentucky, the couple said.
“When I met Kaleb, he was singing, so it has always been a part of our relationship and what I loved about him,” she said.
The couple got married and had a family, settling in Ormond Beach, Florida, which put Kaleb Lee’s music on hold while he financially supported the family, Meagan Lee said.
When an opportunity like “The Voice” came around, Meagan Lee knew she wanted him to try, she said.
“For me, I was just so proud of him for taking this on,” Meagan Lee said.
Producers of the show saw a YouTube video of Kaleb Lee singing. They asked him to take part in a “blind audition” on the show where each singer performs a song while the celebrity judges sit with their backs to the singers. If a judge is impressed and wants to coach the singer, they make the choice to turn around. Both Clarkson and Shelton turned around while Kaleb Lee was belting out his Kenny Chesney song and each pitched their case on why the singer should pick them. Shelton told Lee his voice would stand out in the country music business. Clarkson called the Lee family beautiful.
The couple shared their story of Johander’s adoption. Meagan Lee attended New Hope Church in Greenwood and had gone on mission trips to Nicaragua, and the couple honeymooned in the country. Kaleb Lee had never met his biological father; his mother’s husband adopted him when he was a toddler.
Those life stories compelled the couple to adopt from that country. Meagan and their other two children, Graelynn, 8 and Lilly, 7, had to move to the Central American country for three months to foster Johander before they could take him home.
The entire Lee family went to Los Angeles to make the video recording that would introduce Kaleb Lee to fans of “The Voice.”
Meagan Lee and the children have since returned home to Florida while Kaleb Lee continues on the show. His family at home faithfully watches every episode. The children ask Meagan Lee to replay every episode dozens of times, she said.
Recently, Kaleb Lee had a singing battle with another contestant Shelton was coaching, with both singing “Don’t Do Me Like That” by Tom Petty. Shelton ultimately picked Kaleb Lee’s competitor to continue on his team.
But each judge is allowed to bring back someone who lost a singing battle. Clarkson brought Kaleb Lee onto her team, saying what a fan she had been of him since his blind audition.
Now, Clarkson is coaching Kaleb Lee and live shows start in the next few weeks, he said.
Every week, each contestant works on their music, spending a little bit of time with their celebrity coach. They spends hours each week filming. Most of the work amounts to a minute and a half of performance time on the show, Kaleb Lee said.
The work is worth it. The show is authentic and a great way to meet a music goal, he said.
“It is a boot camp for performance,” Kaleb Lee said. “It is a high-intensity and high-impact kind of show.”
HOW TO WATCH:
“The Voice” airs on NBC at 8 p.m. Monday and Tuesday nights.
Kaleb Lee, a contestant on the show, is married to Meagan Lee, who grew up in the Center Grove area and graduated from Center Grove High School in 2006.
She was brought on stage in the series premiere to support Kaleb.