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Folk musician Joshua Davis began his career in the late '90s as a member of the long-tenured roots group Steppin' in It, based in Lansing, Michigan.
With the arrival of their debut album in 2000, Steppin' in It established themselves as major players in the Midwestern folk and roots scene, covering a variety of styles like Western swing, bluegrass, blues, and Americana. With Davis at the helm, the band toured the country, becoming a mainstay on the folk festival circuit and releasing two more albums in 2002 and 2004. In 2005, Davis worked with Michigan label/collective Earthwork to release his solo debut, a strong collection of soulful folk-rock called Fool Rooster. The following year he paired with fellow Michigan singer/songwriter Rachael Davis (no relation) to form Shout Sister Shout, a '40s-style jazz combo that released an album of standards in 2007.
By this point, he'd gained a reputation as a consummate multi-instrumentalist, comfortable working as a sideman, frontman, and producer. He has worked as a guitar instructor and himself studied under greats like Guy Clark, Steve Earle, Tim O'Brien, and Béla Fleck. In 2008, Steppin' in It re-emerged to release their acclaimed fourth album, Simple Tunes for Troubled Times, taking influence from the country-infused rock of the Band. Resuming his solo career, Davis released Magnolia Belles in 2011 and in 2012 traveled to Palestine and Israel with the nonprofit group On the Ground, acting as a "cultural emissary." His 2012 solo release A Miracle of Birds was inspired by this trip, and he donated half of the album's proceeds to the farmers and families he encountered during his travels. In 2014 he relocated from Lansing to Traverse City, Michigan, and bowed out as frontman for Steppin' in It.
Out of the blue, he was contacted by NBC's popular talent competition The Voice, asking him to audition in Hollywood for their 2015 season. He proved to be one of the more popular and durable contestants on the show, working with coaches Adam Levine and Blake Shelton to eventually emerge as one of the four final contestants on the May 2015 finale. Although he lost to front-runner Sawyer Fredericks, he gained considerable national attention and debuted his single "The Workingman's Hymn" on the program in front of millions. With his profile significantly raised, Davis spent much of 2016 touring and working on material for a new album. Working with producer Steve Berlin (Los Lobos), he released The Way Back Home in October 2017. ~ Timothy Monger, Rovi