Jake Barker: Pinellas County's heartthrob 'Voice' contestant - WFLA News Channel 8

Jake Barker: Pinellas County's heartthrob 'Voice' contestant

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Barker (center) with his nephews Barker (center) with his nephews
PINELLAS COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

For Jake Barker's family, it's quite funny, and very impressive, to think back to what he was like growing into a teenager - never, ever singing on stage or in front of people - to a man who has now performed in front of millions on NBC's The Voice.

People.com has described him as a heartthrob with sex appeal. But Tara Songer and Kristin Landrum laugh a bit when they hear that Jake is this season's heartthrob. They still see him as Jacob.

"He's always been adorable. He's my little brother, I can say that," said Songer, Jake's oldest sister, as she and her sister laughed. "But to say he's a heartthrob. I choke on the words a little bit."

The Barkers from Pinellas Park are a very tight bunch. Jake's mom and dad still live in the house where he grew up. His sisters both live within a mile of there.

"We were so proud of him going to New York," said Tawanna Barker, Jake's mom, as she showed a framed picture of Jake and Times Square. "I was so sad. My kids never move away. But I was so proud of him."

Jake, now 28, was an athlete throughout his time in school. Basketball was his favorite. Singing, it seemed, was off the table.

"Jacob did choir at school. He tried out and one of his friends made fun of him," Tawanna said. "He was young. So he would never sing in front of anybody after that."

From that point on, Jake would ask his friends to turn their backs to him before he'd sing.

Frank Barker, Jake's dad, remembers taking him to karaoke. Things didn't go too well that day.

"He stood up to sing and when he opened his mouth, nothing came out," Frank said. "He was petrified."

But Jake moved to New York a few years ago and started posting videos on YouTube. His dad remembers the first video in 2010 well.

"he's sitting in a room without his shirt on. His hair's all messed up," Frank said, noting his son's unmade bed in the background. "He's singing and talking to an audience and he actually built a pretty good following doing that."

When his girlfriend watched the videos from YouTube, she convinced Jake to try out for The Voice. In that blind audition, Usher turned his chair around.

"Jake said when the chair turned - he felt like just taking the mic and throwing it down," his mom remembers.

Barker, who was stolen by Adam Levine in a Battle Round last month, now has more than 251,000 likes on Facebook and 18,000 followers on Twitter.

"We always knew he was really super-talented," Kristin Landrum said. "I think this is just the beginning of Jake Barker."

For the sisters who played Boys II Men loudly so he'd sing along, The Voice's stage has created a huge memorable moment in their lives.

"To sit there and watch it, though, and see your baby brother up there. There's nothing that can describe that feeling," Songer said. "You're not his parent but you're his older sibling. It's a very proud moment."

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