When Kaleb Lee appeared on Season 14 of The Voice, on Kelly Clarkson's team in 2018, he had no idea what a strong friendship he would form with his coach. Clarkson kept in touch with Lee after his time on the reality TV talent show, with Clarkson sending him a song she thought was perfect for him, "I Dream in Southern," and insisted she sing on it with him. The two already recorded the song, but will perform it together on an upcoming episode of The Voice, airing on Tuesday.
"Kelly and her husband Brandon [Blackstock] have really taken me in, and just helped me in so many ways," Lee told PopCulture.com. "She sent me a song shortly after the show, a song called 'I Dream in Southern.' And it was an incredible song. We went through the process of trying to figure out if there was going to be another record or not, and finally it did make it obviously.
"And then I did a show with her, on her tour, her Meaning of Life Tour in March of last year," he continued. "She said 'Hey, I wanna sing a song with you,' and I was like 'That would be awesome. Let's do it.' And then she's like 'No, I really wanna sing this song with you. I wanna record the song with you.'"
Lee knows it will be different returning to The Voice when he isn't competing, but he is already preparing himself for the inevitable nerves that will hit before he takes the stage.
"I may have a little nervousness but I'm trying to shake that out," Lee admitted. "Somebody told me once [about] nerves, your body doesn't really know the difference between excitement and nerves. So I'm trying to just channel everything into excitement right now. It's gonna be so awesome. I can't wait."
Lee had already pursued music, and then decided to focus on a more stable career for his family, when the producers of The Voice discovered him and asked him to audition. While he was eager for another chance at his dream job, he admits he was anxious when he took the stage and saw the backs of the four coaches chairs.
"It's absolutely terrifying," Lee conceded. "I don't really get nervous in performances at all. I never really have dealt with that to a large extent. But you always get the butterflies. And that stage, that night, for the blind audition was the most nervous I've ever been in my life. It was super intense, and for me it was because I've been out of the game for so long. You start second-guessing.
"This doesn't feel like second nature anymore, so you're really having to work for it," he added. "You're getting back on the stage, and it's not just like you're going and playing in a small little coffee shop or anything like that, or a bar."
Lee performed Kenny Chesney's "Never Wanted Nothing More" and earned invitations by both Clarkson and Blake Shelton to join their teams. Although Lee initially went with Shelton, he was eventually stolen by Clarkson.
"Blake and Kelly both turned around. Kelly turned around first; she won't let me forget that," Lee recalled. "But Blake turned around and in the back of my mind, I'm a country guy, right? So long story longer, I didn't really know a lot of Kelly's stuff, I knew who she was obviously. I just wasn't like an avid Kelly Clarkson listener. But I loved Blake Shelton, so me being the country guy, and being naive to everything else but Blake Shelton on The Voice, I already internally said if he turned his chair I would pick Blake."
Lee might have initially wanted to be on Shelton's team, but he is grateful everything worked out the way it did.
"One of the best things that's happened to me [is] one, being The Voice and two, probably being on Kelly's team second round. She's been amazing."
Photo Credit: Courtesy of NBC / The Kelly Clarkson Show