Pittsburgh's James Wolpert's journey comes to end on NBC's 'The Voice'

by: Carly Noel Updated:


PITTSBURGH - James Wolpert’s journey on NBC’s “The Voice” came to an end on Tuesday.  He was not one of the top three vote-getters.

The former Carnegie Mellon University student and Pittsburgh Apple employee made it to the semifinals on the show, just shy of next week’s finale.

“You’ve been the greatest coach of all time,” Wolpert told his coach, Adam Levine.

“I’m so, so proud of you,” said Levine.

Wolpert sang “With or Without You” by U2 on Monday, hoping it would be enough to put him through to the finals.

“That was even beyond what I thought you could do,” said Levine.

Last week, Wolpert sang "Fell in Love with a Girl" by The White Stripes and "I'd Do Anything For Love" by Meatloaf.

"I thought you did an amazing job," said Levine, who mentioned Wolpert wasn't feeling well.

Based on votes, Wolpert was in the bottom two last week.   He didn't go home and made it into the top five thanks to the help of his fans on Twitter.  WPXI and hundreds of the station's followers got involved in the save, tweeting #voicesave James.

Wolpert had a hunch he would need help from his Twitter followers.  He and his dad told WPXI they greatly appreciated the support.

"Thank you so much for helping me through this process.  This really wouldn't be possible without the overwhelming support I've gotten from back home," Wolpert told us to share with his fans.

Two weeks ago, Wolpert performed "Somebody to Love" by Queen.

"That is the tallest order for a vocalist to sing Freddie Mercury like that.  Let me tell you, you could sing in Queen," said Levine.

Three weeks ago, Wolpert performed “Without You” by Harry Nilsson to make the top eight.

“You’re really blowing my mind every time you sing,” said Levine.

A month ago, Wolpert’s rendition of “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers got him a standing ovation and a spot in the top 10.

"You just turned into a rock star in front of our eyes,” said Levine.

“I really loved the staging.  I love when someone knows how to command the stage,” said CeeLo Green.

Following the performance, we talked to Wolpert, who for the first time in an interview, credited Pittsburgh native and Carnegie Mellon University graduate Zachary Quinto for being on “The Voice.”

“Part of the reason I did ‘The Voice’ is because of Pittsburgh. I was talking to my family and to Zachary Quinto, whom my cousin was dating at the time.  He went to Carnegie Mellon, and in a weird butterfly-effect way, if he wouldn’t have gone, he wouldn’t have influenced me to go, and I wouldn’t have done this,” Wolpert said.

Quinto was on the television show “Heroes.”  He played Spock in the reboot “Star Trek” film and its sequel, “Star Trek Into Darkness.”  He is also known for his roles in the “American Horror Story” series.

Wolpert also dished about his geek chic style.

“I do get to pick my own stuff. I have a lot of say in what I end up wearing.  It’s a lot of fun to toy with the irony of what I’m doing versus what I’m wearing,” he said.

Wolpert performed a stripped-down version of Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You” for his first live performance.  With a guitar in his hands, the talented singer looked poised and sounded sincere.

“It all starts with song selection.  It’s a collaborative effort between the contestant and coach, so I’ll pitch a few options, and Adam will pick the one most apt to my style,” he said.

Wolpert’s coach, Levine, watched with pride during the emotional performance.

“You came back and did something incredibly bold.  You had so much control, and it was so elegant.  I could not be more proud of you,” said Levine.

The other coaches were expressively impressed.

“What a great song choice.  Great job!” said Cee Lo Green.

“You can’t be a geek and be that awesome,” said Blake Shelton.

“I was really impressed,” said Christina Aguilera.  “It was heartwarming to watch.”

Following Wolpert’s performance to get into the top 12, his single, “A Case of You,” rose to No. 4 on iTunes.

Wolpert made the live rounds after knocking out Juhi during the knockout rounds.

Wolpert performed “More Than a Feeling,” by Boston, against Juhi’s rendition of Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard it Through the Grapevine.”

Prior to the knockout rounds, Wolpert talked to us about competing against Juhi, whom he called a friend.

“I am going up against my really good friend from the show, Juhi. She is an amazing performer, especially for a 16-year-old. Our families are really close as a result of the show, so that is a completely different dynamic that I will have to overcome,” said Wolpert.

During the battle rounds, Wolpert went up against Will Champlin.  They sang Imagine Dragon's hit song "Radioactive" together.

Their coach, Levine, declared Wolpert the winner of the battle.  Christina Aguilera used a “steal” on Champlin.  Champlin later moved back to Levine's team.

Wolpert was a coach favorite from the beginning.  All four coaches turned around for him during his audition performance of Jack White’s “Love Interruption.”

Wolpert said he is proud to represent Pittsburgh in the competition.

“I get a chance to do them one proud and put our Shadyside Apple store on the map,” he said.

Wolpert's audition round included a video package that featured him talking about the Pittsburgh Apple store.

Aguilera, who grew up in the Pittsburgh area, tried to use her Steel City connection to get Wolpert on her team.  Wolpert went with Levine, who mentioned he also has a Pittsburgh connection.  Levine's best friend, Gene Hong, is from the Pittsburgh area and went to North Allegheny High School.

“I got this weird gut feeling that I would be a good fit for his team.  His pitch was really sincere.  I could tell that he really wanted me,” Wolpert said about Levine.

Wolpert is a 2009 graduate of Lampeter-Strasburg High School.  He attended CMU for two years.

“My path before ‘The Voice’ was pretty conventional for kids my age.  I graduated from high school, and the next logical step was to go to college.  I was really into art at that time, so I went to Carnegie Mellon for art.  I was there for two years before I decided it really wasn’t for me.  I cut all of my losses and went on the music path.  I got myself a day job (at Apple) and tried to gig when I could,” he said.

While going to CMU and working at the Apple store in Shadyside, Wolpert said, he really enjoyed Pittsburgh.

“I love going to the Incline.   I love hanging out in Shadyside.  There are great bars around there.  I love hanging out at the Apple store because I’m a nerd.  I love going to the strip on Market Days.  My favorite restaurant to go to is Tamari,” he said.

Wolpert recently moved to Los Angeles for a fresh start.