Sometimes reality music televisions shows like The X-Factor can be pretty unpredictable, with the diversity of backgrounds brought on stage by thousands of people auditioning. Some are young aspiring musicians wanting to make a name for themselves at a young age. There are also those who, after pursuing a career path that took their time and attention off of the music scene, wish to seize the opportunity that auditioning can unlock for them.
Particularly, a man named Jeff Gutt stole the spotlight with his powerful, heart-rending vocals. He was initially aiming to get a bit of good exposure for his local singing career by exhibiting a preview of his musical talent. But he did not expect the extent to which his audition would move the judges, the audience, and most importantly, his son.
Prior to joining The X-Factor, Gutt has performed with different bands—the very first and most prominent one dating back to his high school days. In his high school band, Innerfaith, Gutt was the frontman and his friends, Patrick Sankuer (guitars), Matt Brooks (bass), and Jeff Sankuer (drums), wrote and performed their original songs. They won the “Blue Water Area Battle of the Bands” in Marysville, Michigan. Gutt also became Dry Cell’s lead vocalist. He rejoined the band in 2005 after he left Dry Cell for a short period of time. During his time away from Dry Cell, Gutt and his friend Gary Pittel collaborated to create Band with No Name (BWNN). Band with No Name released a self-titled EP with 5 tracks in 2007. The following year, BWNN was hailed the champion in the 89X & TNTs Battle of the Bands in Michigan and won them $10,000. The money was used to help Gutt’s band record 7 additional new songs for another EP, and even a full-length album, Humanity.
The band released its first album, Disconnected, in 2002, and a compilation titled The Dry Cell Collection in 2010. The compilation comprises demos released years earlier, from the years when the band was active. Jeff Gutt permanently left Dry Cell in 2009.
After his stint with Dry Cell, Gutt went on to pursue music with a different band, Acrylic. He recorded a total of 8 demo songs with the said band.
His choice of music, Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen, left judges skeptical at first. But as he began singing the first few lines, the judges were instantly stunned and the audience, pleasantly bewildered. Soon, it was evident that everyone lost themselves in his musical gift. With tearful eyes, the crowd cheered for him as loud as they could.
Simon Cowell even remarked that, in all the years he’s been an X-Factor critic and a mentor to countless hopefuls, Jeff’s version of Hallelujah was by-far one of the most wonderful auditions he’s ever heard. In truth, the song, which was originally released in 1984 as part of Cohen’s album, Various Positions, has been one of the highly covered songs of all time.
In the end, Gutt earned all four of the judges’ approval, all while achieving his goal of showcasing his skills and make his son proud. As a sweet little bonus, Gutt’s son came running center-stage to give him a warm and delightful hug.