7:42pm PT by Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya
'The Voice': Season 12's Blind Auditions Enter Final Week
The final week of season 12’s Blind Auditions kicked off with two more hours of promising performances. Coaches Gwen Stefani, Blake Shelton, Adam Levine and Alicia Keys have almost completed their teams, each picking up a few new hopefuls.
The first artist of the night was Kenny P of Nashville, who sang “Hello It’s Me.” Stefani and Shelton both turned, starting the night out with yet another showdown between the couple. Shelton played the Nashville connections card, but the artist shocked by going in the more unexpected direction and joining Team Gwen.
Enid Ortiz was up next, singing “All I Ask” by Adele. At first, it looked like she might not get any turns, but Shelton turned at the very last second. It was a sneaky move on Shelton’s part, and the rest of the coaches missed out on nabbing a really talented powerhouse of a singer. Ortiz joined Team Blake by default, but Keys shared some really wise words about confidence and self-worth with the artist.
Next up, RJ Collins, who works at a Guitar Center, shared the story of losing his brother. “I want to make my brother proud,” Collins said heading into his Blind Audition. He sang “Purpose” by Justin Bieber, and Levine turned right away. It was clear Collins has something special, and his interpretation of the lyrics was really strong. Keys also pressed her button for him. “That’s the winning voice right there,” Levine said at the end of the audition. “I want to push you and just find more greatness inside of you,” Keys said. Levine fought hard and said he would continue to fight hard for Collins if he joined his team. But Keys added that she had no one else like Collins on her team. “Adam, I love you, man, I promise I love you,” Collins said before then joining Team Alicia. Sorry, Adam!
Going into the next audition, Levine was frustrated about not picking up any more artists. The next auditionee was Austin Tyler Jones, who said he has been doing music since he was 3 years old. “This is my shot,” said Jones, who has been gigging and playing in church regularly but has struggled to balance his musical pursuits with having a family. He sang “Alison” by Elvis Costello and played guitar. Unfortunately, it was a bland performance that didn’t turn any chairs. He was not the answer to Levine’s prayers.
Perhaps T Soul, a seasoned artist with a ton of experience looking for his big break, could be the answer. Although, it sounded like the artist favored Keys going into his audition. He sang “Take Me To The River” by Talking Heads, and he really made it his own. Levine turned first, but Shelton followed close behind. Levine had a shot since Keys neglected to turn. “I am so excited to definitely have you on my team,” Levine said, which ruffled Shelton’s feathers. But T Soul surprised Levine and everyone else by joining Team Blake.
Young artist Hanna Eyre, whose dad signed her up to audition for The Voice, has a lot of support from her family. The 15-year-old started learning how to play the piano when she was only 5, and was taught by her mother. Eyre teaches piano in her spare time, but she noted that singing and songwriting are her real passions. For her audition, she sang a really delicate and stripped-down rendition of “Blank Space” by Taylor Swift. It wasn’t a great song choice for a Blind Audition, but Levine turned. It looked like he might be in the clear, but then Shelton and Stefani both turned. “I’m gonna claw, and I’m gonna fight,” Levine said, desperate for a win. “I want to find a girl that is sparkly and talented and young, and it was my dream when I turned and saw you,” Stefani said. “When you started singing, it almost sounded like a lullaby,” Shelton said. After much fanfare, Eyre joined Team Adam, giving Levine a victory at last.
Casey Jamerson, who is both an athlete and a singer, auditioned next. After performing in Bring It On on Broadway, Jamerson focused on developing herself as a rock singer. She sang “Shadows Of The Night,” giving an energetic performance with bold vocals. The coaches did not press their buttons for her. Stefani not turning was the most surprising of all. “I’m sorry I didn’t turn. I regret it,” Stefani said.
Next, Hunter Plake, who lost his home in Hurricane Katrina, auditioned. He sang “Carry On” by Fun, and Stefani turned right away. Plake noted that he’s only really used to performing in church, but he commanded the stage and gave a very confident and original performance. Keys turned, too. Stefani and Keys remained friendly and supportive of each other even while competing over Plake, who ultimately chose to join Team Alicia.
Young artist Nala Price, who has performed in talent competitions all over Florida, was up next. “Being a senior in high school, I’m at a bit of a crossroads,” Price said, adding that this season of The Voice comes at a perfect time for her. She sang “Send My Love (To Your New Lover)” by Adele and had a really strong voice, attracting the attention of Levine and Stefani. Stefani said that she felt like Price was singing to her. “You understood the lyric and the emotion of it,” Stefani said. “I think we could do a lot together.” Team Gwen would have been the right fit for Price, but she joined Team Adam instead. Things were looking up for Levine.
Sammie Zonana, who studied screenwriting and film before eventually teaching herself to play guitar and falling in love with music, came to The Voice hoping to take her music career to the next level. She came to the show with gig and songwriting experience, and she has her own wedding singer business. Zonana came with her fiance Brooke, who she met at an LGBT speed dating event. She sang “Dangerous Woman” and put her own spin on it, showcasing her natural rasp. Stefani turned right away, and Zonana joined her team by default, but that really was the best team for her. “I heard so much Gwen in your voice,” Levine said.
The last artist of the night was Valerie Ponzio, who plays country-Americana music. “I love the heartache,” she said of the genre. She delivered an interesting and fun take on “Ring Of Fire” for her audition, and Stefani turned first. But the rest of the coaches joined, ending the night with a four-chair turn. Levine said he heard all of the coaches, in Ponzio’s voice. “Each and every one of you are huge influences of mine,” Ponzio said, adding that Stefani in particular was her idol when she was younger. Keys said she would love to be her coach so she could help her balance all the different genres Ponzio is into. Shelton focused in on Ponzio’s predilection for country, naturally. Ponzio joined Team Blake, which was a bit of a shock.
The last Blind Auditions of season 12 will air tomorrow night. Who do you think has the tightest team at the moment?