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A rising star in music entertainment told Benedictine College that the school “saved his life.”
He was seen by millions on NBC’s “The Voice” and he packed the largest venue at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, for a concert back where he says he feels at home.
“This is home,” Durell Anthony said before performing songs for his alma mater, Benedictine College, where he graduated in 2008. “Obviously I don’t live here anymore, and I never got to do this here. But this is home for me. This is where it all started. And it just feels so good to be back.”
Already in his 13-year career, Anthony has shared the stage with some of music’s most celebrated artists including Carrie Underwood and Yolonda Adams. He’s also performed private events for well-known brands such as Bank Of America, BMW, Coca Cola, and Chic-Fil-A. In addition, his voice has contributed to several TV projects for Disney, Fox, NBC and Peacock. All along, he has been working on his original music, including the singles “Speechless,” “Dive,” and “While You’re Here.” His original music is available on all streaming platforms.
Anthony thanked those who brought him to campus, including Joanne Huey, director of alumni relations.
“It was great having Durell Anthony back on campus and to hear his heartfelt words about how much this special place did for him,” she said. “It’s the people who make Benedictine College special, and we couldn’t be more proud of Durell and all he’s accomplished.”
“Tonight is just a night of me sharing my story, sharing what God has done in my life,” he said. “It all started here in Atchison, Kansas,” his hometown. He recalled singing publicly for the first time at age 8.
“Up until coming to Benedictine, I was just really trying to figure out, like, man, who am I?” he said. “Coming here saved my life.”
He spoke of “dark times” in his life, and said that his final years in high school he was over 300 pounds.
But Benedictine changed that, he said. “I found a community. I made a lot of friends. I lost like 120 pounds in a year, year and a half, running everywhere. My car broke down, so I had no choice but to run. But it changed my life. I had so many great experiences. By the time I was a senior here, I wrote my first album.”
The album was called “Created for Greatness” a phrase that the college uses often, referencing the Benedictine vision statement.
“What an amazing night of music!” said Travis Grossman, an Atchison cultural leader. “Durell finally came home — and I mean brought it.”
“An incredible evening,” commented Karen Laflin, an Atchison mom who attended. “Such talent, packed auditorium, so many familiar faces I haven’t seen in so long. Thank you to Benedictine College for hosting such a great evening.”
Anthony inspired with both his songs and his words. “God has a plan for you,” he told the audience.
The remarkable plan God had for Anthony meant that he was on NBC’s The Voice. It all started with a Zoom audition. “About 40,000 people auditioned on Zoom,” he said. From that number, he said, “They brought 89 of us to Hollywood for the opportunity to sing for the four coaches.”
The way The Voice show works, singers audition on a stage. A studio crowd can see them, but four potential celebrity coaches can’t. If a coach likes a singer’s sound — judging solely by their voice — the coach will hit a button, turning their chair around to reveal what the singer looks like.
The four coaches for Season 20 of The Voice were Blake Shelton, John Legend, Kelly Clarkson and Nick Jonas.
After getting through the online auditions, the show brought him to Hollywood, Anthony said. He waited for three days and then “I got to go first. So, yeah — I did the audition. And John Legend turned around. Then Kelly Clarkson turned around!” Anthony was a John Legend fan and cherished the opportunity to work with him.
Looking back on his life, Anthony thanked Benedictine College for the role the college played.
“Truthfully, I don’t even know how I got here,” he said. “But by the grace of God, he knew where I needed to be.”