'The Voice' Winner Jake Hoot Calls Growing up Without Electricity an 'Adventure' (Exclusive)

Season 17 winner of The Voice, Jake Hoot, definitely had an unconventional childhood. The Tennessee native spent much of his childhood in a remote area of the Dominican Republic, along with his eight siblings and parents, who were missionaries. His family moved to the Dominican Republic when he was 9 years old, forcing him to give up many of the things he was accustomed to, like electricity and running water, which he says became one of the biggest blessings in his life.

"We were so young, we looked at it as like an adventure, not having electricity or running water," Hoot told PopCulture.com. "Growing up here in the United States, especially now that I've been back for so long, it becomes a necessity. But when you're over there it becomes ... I always say it makes for a good story. Anytime anything goes wrong it makes for a good story.

"There's so many stories where we stayed up late around a candlelight playing board games and stuff because we didn't have electricity," he added. "It's all about how you look at it and your perspective."

Hoot has been open about his eclectic childhood, although he admits he didn't realize until much later that the way he was brought up was anything but normal.

"The way we grew up made me who I was," Hoot told CMT. "I was blown away when we got to the United States and we had electricity 24/7. And I remember when one of my brothers stepped on grass for the first time when we were in the U.S., and he was like, 'Dad, what is this?' We just weren't used to that kind of stuff, and that influenced me. There were moments when I thought that the things my mom and dad did were the norm, and then come to find out that there's not a whole lot of people like that."

Hoot might be used to modern conveniences again, but one thing he isn't used to –– at least not yet –– is making music his full-time job. The 31-year-old still has a day job, working in sales at the local radio station in his hometown of Cookeville, which he refuses to give up until he knows that he can support his family.

"On top of everything I'm a dad first, so until I can see that consistent way of living coming from the music and consistent money or whatever coming in to better support my family then I'll be able to step away and be able to focus more," Hoot said, who is raising both his daughter and his girlfriend's daughter. "But, right now, we're in the preliminary stages. We're trying to get music written, recorded everything. Hopefully sometime in the near future I'll be able to step away."


Photo Credit: Getty / Jason Kempin