Way back in the year 1999, The Voice Season 9 contestant Barrett Baber was a 19-year-old sophomore at Ouachita Baptist University. And, then the unexpected happened: While traveling with his college choir, their plane crashed upon landing. Sixteen years later, the tragedy still influences Barrett Baber's music and his time on The Voice. The Arkansas native talked to Bustle about how the plane crash has affected his music — and his dreams. "I think it's one of the reasons I'm just not afraid to ask the question 'Why not me?' and chase a dream where the odds are stacked against everyone who wants to be a recording artist and performer," Baber says.
The American Airlines Flight 1420 was traveling from Dallas-Fort Worth International to Little Rock National on June 1, 1999. Baber and the OBU choir were returning from a two-week trip to Germany, according to People. Upon landing, a thunderstorm provided some harsh winds, causing the plane to overrun the runway, skid, and, eventually, crash into a metal support. Eleven people, including the captain, were killed and 80 were injured in the accident. Baber's quick thinking under pressure lead him to help people out of the plane and the flames. "In the moment, it was really difficult for me to understand, as a 19-year-old kid, why something so tragic would happen to me," Baber recalls. "I still don't have the answer to that."
But, not too long after, Baber says he decided that he wouldn't let the crash define him as a person, but it wasn't easy. "I certainly had some dark years and some really tough times dealing with push back, stress, and figuring out how to go forward," he says.
Today, Baber is a devoted husband, and father to two young children. He's also a teacher and debate coach at Fayetteville High School in Arkansas, but right now he's taking a semester off so he can bring some of his soulful country music on The Voice. Baber advanced to the Live Playoffs after a powerful Knockout Round performance of Zac Brown Band's "Colder Weather" last week.
"It's affected me as a musician more than anything else," Baber says of the accident. "Because I'm not afraid to go for things and walk away from a sure thing — a steady paycheck at a great high school — and walk into the unknown. I know that in the end, things work out as long as you have a good attitude about life."
And, considering how much The Voice judges and audience are loving him this season, it seems like things are working out for the best.
Image: Tyler Golden/NBC