UF grad Dylan Gerard found power of music long before 'The Voice' found him
University of Florida graduate and Jacksonville native Dylan Gerard's voice has been turning heads for a while; now it's turning chairs.
Gerard is a contestant on NBC's "The Voice.
For his audition, he sang “Say You Won’t Let Go” by James Arthur. Adam Levine and Jennifer Hudson both turned their chairs.
“You prepare as much as you can, you sing the song so many times,” Dylan said. “And even though I was extremely nervous, I was to a point where I was like ‘I can’t do anything more with this. It just needs to have an audience, I just need to sing it and hope for the best.’”
Gerard started his journey on “The Voice” on Team Adam, where at this stage, he won his battle round against internet sensation Dave Crosby.
Next up for Gerard are the knockout rounds, which will air in the next few weeks.
Although Gerard’s audition showed off his voice loved by the crowd, the audience loved his family’s reaction just as much.
Music and theater run deep within the Gerard roots and “The Voice” is a thrill for the family, but a nationally televised TV show barely scratches the surface of the life music has brought to the Gerards.
“I love music and it’s very powerful that, in my mind, it’s helped me heal,” said Dylan’s sister, Sara Beth Gerard-Summers.
“I remember my dad called me the morning of and told me Sara was in an accident,” Dylan said. “You need to get to the hospital as quick as you can.”
Four years ago, Sara Beth got clipped by a car on the interstate, sending her across the median and into oncoming traffic head on.
“She ended up with a traumatic brain injury,” Dylan said. “Punctured lung, collapsed lung, lacerated organs, broken bones. There was that whole day that whole morning we didn’t know if she was going to make it.”
When Sara Beth made it to the hospital, doctors said she wouldn’t live, said Kelley Norman, Dylan’s mom.
Sara Beth was in a coma for over a week, but her family wouldn’t leave her side.
She awoke without her memory. Kelley said Dylan was Sara Beth’s constant, as he would stay by her bedside continuously playing music.
“He would play his ukulele and sing to her, said Robert Gerard, Dylan’s dad. “When he was singing, the nurses and the doctors noticed that even though she had the ventilator, her mouth was moving…she was singing along to what he was singing.”
“In that moment you feel this spirit move around and you get this hope that it will be okay,” Dylan said. “In that moment you’re like, ‘this is my sister she’s here.’ It was real powerful.”
Music was Sara Beth’s connector. She didn’t now who her family was at the time, but she never lost lyrics, Kelley said.
After a long recovery, Sara Beth is mostly back to her normal life. She has come back to her old job of teaching at Baker County High School and continues to direct musicals.
“Now it’s going on four years and she’s been able to recover in just incredible fashion,” Dylan said. “I don’t think I would have been able to deal with what she went through as well as she did. She’s so positive and handled it so well.”
Sara Beth says she has gone back to college for recreational therapy to help people with brain injuries.
“I feel like I can connect with somebody or impact somebody in ways that someone who’s never had a brain injury would be able to,” Sara Beth said.
Sara Beth says she believes everything happens for a reason. She says she feels like Dylan was meant to mae his appearance on “The Voice” for her accident to be told and touch someone who needs this message.
“They’re not alone,” Sara Beth said. “They’re not all by themselves. And they’ll be able to actually realize that music can help heal.”