If being an award-winning, critically-adored singer-songwriter ever gets old, Jason Isbell can always fall back on a career as a reality TV show contestant. Today, the Americana Music Association’s reigning Artist of the Year received an email from an NBC talent producer, asking him to consider trying out for the eighth season of The Voice.
“I came across Jason Isbell online and was hoping to chat with him about auditioning for us if it’s something that interests him?” wrote the unnamed producer, apparently unaware that Isbell earned his first record deal nearly 15 years ago, back when he joined Drive-By Truckers’ lineup during the band’s acclaimed Southern Rock Opera tour.
Isbell responded to the offer by tweeting a snapshot of NBC’s email to his 70,100 followers. Minutes later, he “accepted” the offer in a follow-up tweet, writing, “My audition on ‘The Voice’ will be a solo vocal and French horn rendition of ‘Oh Comely’ by Neutral Milk Hotel. I will wear a #bikini.”
This year alone, Isbell played 120 shows — most of them sold out — in support of Southeastern, a solo album that cracked the Top 40 during its first week of release. To date, the record has sold more than 132,000 copies. That puts him within arm’s reach of Cassadee Pope, arguably The Voice‘s most popular alum, whose Frame by Frame has sold 180,000 copies in roughly the same amount of time. Pope is presumably bound by the restrictions of The Voice‘s infamous contract, though — a contract that was decried as “dehumanizing” and “one-sided” after it leaked earlier this year on Twitter — while Isbell maintains a high level of independence, writes his own material and releases albums on Southeastern Records, a label run by his manager.
In other words, don’t expect him to be joining Team Adam any time soon.
[For the record, if Isbell ever did wear a bikini onstage, his song “Cover Me Up” — the 2014 Americana Music Association’s Song of the Year — might be a more topical choice.]