'The Voice' shines the brightest of spotlights on Cresson’s Josh Gallagher
December 5, 2016 12:00 AM
Cresson native Josh Gallagher has come a long way since singing in Cambria County bars.
Josh Gallagher of Cambria County.
Family of Josh Gallagher
From left, Austin Allsup, Courtney Harrell, Aaron Gibson and Josh Gallagher. Mr. Gallagher has reached "The Voice" semifinals.
By Maria Sciullo / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“The Voice” has made a frequent flier out of Cathy Gallagher, and she’s loving it.
“Trip No. 8 coming up,” she said recently. “Physically, it’s tough, but this is the best exhaustion I’ve had in my entire life. It’s so worth it.”
Mrs. Gallagher’s now-famous son, Josh, is starring on one of the most popular shows on American television and competes tonight in the semifinals. “The Voice” also has fans around the world, with viewers sending social media love to the Cresson, Cambria County native from Brazil to Australia.
“It’s crazy, and of course, they can’t vote, but they tell him ‘We’re watching you from New Zealand,’ ” she said.
“The Voice” broadcasts live on NBC twice a week. Mondays are performance nights at Universal Studios near Los Angeles, with competition results doled out on Tuesdays. The first few shows were taped over the summer, but since November, it’s been a live experience.
Josh Gallagher, who sings country but has dabbled in other genres in the past, sang Tim McGraw’s “Real Good Man” last week.
His father, Dan, drives his wife to the airport every Sunday morning. After attending the shows with her new daughter-in-law, Lindsey, Mrs. Gallagher gets back to the Pittsburgh area Wednesday nights.
Dan Gallagher has his own ritual. With the exception of June’s Blind Audition rounds, he’s stayed put. “I’m a superstitious guy, as well as Josh, and I don’t want to screw it up,” he said, laughing.
Instead, he and many others crowd into the Sankertown VFW for each show. People bring covered dishes, there’s a bar with nightly drink specials, and Mr. Gallagher’s mood bounces between anticipation and anxiety.
“Mondays, I’m excited to see my son on television, doing his thing,” he said. “But on Tuesday.....”
Josh Gallagher, 26, taught himself to play the bass guitar. In high school, he and friends formed bands with names like “Isolated Incident” and “Panick Mode.” He was happy to stay in the background.
One day, as his mother tells it, the lead singer got sick. Josh stepped in and a future reality TV star was born.
“Any time we’d be riding around, he’d turn up a song on the radio and keep on wailing,” said Matt Colian, who became a close friend after they graduated from Penn Cambria High School.
“It was nothing for us to go to a party, and standing around a fire, people would ask him to sing. He’d pull out his guitar and start ripping off tunes.”
In college at Penn State-McKeesport, he played baseball for a couple of years, and began writing songs. After dropping out of school, Mr. Gallagher took a factory job at JENNMAR, making construction products like roof bolts by day. At night, he played the bars around Cambria and Somerset counties.
In 2014, he took a professional leap of faith. Moving to Nashville with Lindsey, his stubborn competitive streak helped Mr. Gallagher survive and grow in the intense music community.
“I give her all the credit in the world,” his father said. “To just pick up and follow and support him? Wow, what a lady.”
The kid who used to blanche at the idea of singing in front of crowds at a county fair has come a long way in six months. Live, broadcast television can be a dizzying experience of lights and sound cues, wardrobe fittings, rehearsals and trying to keep track of all the industry people who breeze in and out each week.
It helps that Josh Gallagher is possessed of a grounded disposition: “We’ve tried to raise all three of our kids with a quote taken from my dad years ago,‘Never forget who you are,’ ” Dan Gallagher said.
Cathy Gallagher recalled the day last summer when families of the top 98 singers were brought in to run through some general contract information. “They told [Josh], ‘Do you realize you’re one of 48,000 who auditioned?’
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