"The Voice" contestant and Flowery Branch singer Andrew Jannakos will perform at a benefit for the Thumbs Up Mission later this month.
The benefit is Saturday, May 25 at Flowery Branch High School and is sponsored by some of the Hall County Chic-fil-A locations. Jannakos said the cause was important to him because he was a grade above Keaton Coker at Flowery Branch High School, the inspiration behind the foundation. Coker was a senior when he passed away from brain cancer.
"The organization was started after him, after he told his family he wanted to take his life savings and spend it on people to do better and send a family that has cancer on vacation," said Jannakos. "He was an amazing kid and I just wanted to do something nice for the community, for him and for the memory of him."
The Thumbs Up Mission - the Keaton Franklin Coker Foundation gives a parent or child with cancer and their families opportunities to have a "vacation away from cancer," as Jannakos described it. Near the end of his life, Coker would answer questions with a thumbs up.
Jannakos soared in popularity recently after he took a shot on singing competition television show "The Voice." After several successful episodes, Jannakos was voted off the show during the battle rounds.
"At that point, you have to understand, it's a competition. And you have to understand there's so many emotions that can go through your body at that time, literally, so many different emotions are going through your body at that moment. It was very numbing, but at the same time to hear the things that John [Legend] and Kelly [Clarkson] said Adam [Levine] said, and Blake [Shelton] said some things too. They said really, really big, inspiring things to me. It gave me the boost that I needed to actually do it. Adam was just like, 'dude, go get signed, you can do it in like a week or two. Go to Tennessee, go to Nashville and sign a record label.' And I was like, yep, oh, well, ok, we're gonna try that," he said.
LISTEN: Andrew Jannakos on his elimination from The Voice
Despite the fact he didn't win the whole competition, Jannakos didn't leave the stage without a consolation prize of sorts.
"It was absolutely incredible to get that exposure, get that type of experience from it. It was really cool to get to work with them, because I'm not new to music, I'm new to performing music. So for them to help me with the stage rehearsing ... it was really helpful, cause I don't know what the heck I'm doing on stage, I usually just sit there with a guitar and a microphone."
And, Jannakos said he gained more from the experience than just performance skills and opportunities.
"It's more of little pieces here and there that are heartfelt. You meet so many amazing people and make so many connections and friendships that will last forever. I think that was honestly, even being on the stage and singing, I think that alone was better than the show, meeting those people and making those friendships," said Jannakos. He said working with Adam Levine, his coach and Maroon 5 frontman, "was awesome. How he is on camera is how he is off camera, except 10 times worse, but like a better worse. The whole experience was unreal. I couldn't have asked for better people to go up against or be there with."
Jannakos is committed to the show and confirmed he is still watching to see who wins.
Tickets for the May 25 benefit are available online. If you can't get enough of Jannakos, he said there were projects in the works for this summer, and that he had recently formed band.
"I've got gigs set up all throughout New York for the month of June, a couple of different cities in New York, and just trying to get in to different states now, get in to those." Jannakos said the television exposure both got him more bookings and raised his desirability, which has helped his personal life. "It got me in to more places and I got paid a little more, which is nice because I gotta pay rent!" he laughed.
Additionally, Jannakos said there were a few projects still under wraps. He encouraged fans to follow him on social media to keep up with his work, and those interested in booking him for gigs or events like the Thumbs Up Mission benefit to reach out through those platforms.