Smith came to national attention in 2015 during his participation on season nine of NBC’s The Voice. His audition performance led all four coaches to turn their chairs; Smith chose to be part of Adam Levine’s team.
Smith had auditioned for the show once before and was rejected. Even when he was accepted for the show, he had his doubts until the reactions started pouring in. “I [thought], ‘Wow, people see something in me that honestly I didn’t think was there.’ I thought maybe I had fooled everyone! It took a lot of convincing for me to finally start seeing myself as a performer and artist.” Smith said it was his performance of “Halo” during the live playoffs that allowed him to believe he had “something to say as an artist.” According to Slate, Smith was dubbed “the unicorn” during the show because his voice is “genderless and expansive … as ambiguous as it is precise, quickly scaling and spelunking through octaves, never anything but perfectly on pitch.”