The Voice season 17 Blind Auditions continue with returning coaches Blake Shelton, Kelly Clarkson and John Legend. In the wake of Adam Levine’s abrupt departure from the show, Blake gal-pal Gwen Stefani takes a seat on the panel. Carson Daly returns as host. We’ll be live blogging all the Blind Audition performances right here.
Mendeleyev – 28 – Santa Barbara CA – Girl from the North Country by Bob Dylan – The singer is named after a Russian scientist. His full name is ridiculously long. And just as I was thinking, after observing his skateboard and beachfront laid back demeanor, “his parents must be hippies,” dude fesses up to it. We know this is a super special audition, because Carson heads out to the Santa Barbara beach to meet up with him. Hippie-dippy details include being born in a bathtub, and a lifelong vegetarian. His mother, who passed away from cancer recently, always had purple hair. His parents instilled in him a love of folk. He and his mom were supposed to attend a folk festival together today. He and his dad tear up talking about it. The singer declares that he’ll be performing today without a band “That is how I thrive,” he says, solemnly. He has an interesting tone. Not really a good voice exactly, but deep and sturdy. He reaches some unbelievably low notes! Three chairs turn at once. Kelly, John and Blake. Gwen is last. It’s a four chair turn. He’s interesting, but I’m not convinced he’s worthy of 4 chairs. Kelly compares him to a warm blanket. Gwen loved how he connected with the audience. The panel is making fun of Kelly’s fast patter! John calls him “unique, artistic and powerful.” and adds “your fireworks were hitting your low notes.” Blake says his voice “shakes the rafters.” Gwen reminds him that she’s also from California AND her parents introduced her to folk, as well. The singer name checks Richie Havens, and John sings a little back. Unsurprisingly (I called this in my head right off) Mendeleyev Chooses John. Two contemplative minds meet.
Jake Hoot – 30 – Cookeville TN – When it Rains it Pours – He was born in Corpus Christi Texas, and then his missionary parents moved the family to the Dominican Republic when he was 9. He has 8 siblings. They started churches. He returned to the US to attend college, had a child, and now he’s a single dad. His little girl is everything to him. He tears up talking about wanting to do his best for her. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but he’s got a super country vibe. He’s got that nasally country tone that I don’t love. Nobody turns right away. Kelly eventually hits her button. A one chair turn. Kelly almost blocked Blake, but she didn’t need it. “I know you wanted Blake, but I promise this is a better home!” she says, comparing him to Ronnie Dunn. He probably WAS hoping Blake would turn.
Calvin Lockett – 25 – Durham NC – Just My Imagination by Temptations – Both of his parents are pastors. He’s used to singing in the church, but hopes to cross over into secular music. Blake turns first, and then John and finally Gwen. His voice is really reedy. Not my taste at all. It feels like he’s always straining for notes. Gwen calls his voice “relaxing.” John calls his style subtle, and his tone unique. He liked that he held back on the runs until the end. He calls his voice “masterful.” Gwen and Blake both realize they are “screwed.” Blake ups the ante declaring that he could be “a star.” Gwen promises she would be “passionate” about coaching him. “I’ve been doing this for a really really long time all over the world.” After a commercial break, Calvin Chooses Gwen. OK I was NOT expecting that. John is disappointed. Calvin chose Gwen because she promised to fight for him. Fingers crossed she doesn’t dump him at the blinds.
Josie Jones – 16 – Hamilton AL – Men & Mascara – We recently posted a preview of this audition. Josie LOVES Blake and hopes he turns for her (HE DOES). She also loves country music because it’s about relationships, trucks, and fishing, which she loves to do. She and her entire family jam out. She’s got an old school type country voice. She’s like a tentative Dolly Parton. She needs a few years to get control of her instrument. John turns right away! Blake hits his button at the last minute. Much to the relief of the MAGA looking family backstage, I’m sure. Kelly compares her to Andra Day which seems to confuse Josie a little. Gwen calls her a “baby” Stevie Nicks. John whines that Blake harshes his ability to get country artists. Blake describes her voice as a “strait laser tone” and then compliments her ability to keep country alive. But of course, Josie Picks Blake
Reigning winner Maelyn Jarmon drops by to give the hopefuls a pep talk! She chats with the next auditioner.
Johnny Sanchez – 30 – Hollister CA – Seven Spanish Angels – Growing up, his family had a blues rock band. He started a band with a friend in his teens. But eventually, he got married and started a family. They had twins. It changed everything. He got a job as a city worker filling potholes. They live in a trailer on his family’s property. His voice is strong, with a bit of grit. He’s having a few wobbles, though. He’s probably nervous. Also, he’s having trouble hitting the notes. No Turns. Aw. He’s going to be living in that trailer for a while longer, unfortunately. John says with a little more confidence or control, he’ll be great. Blake says he was close, but the arrangement of the song threw him off. Earlier, Johnny confessed that he hoped Gwen would turn.
Marybeth Byrd – 18 – Armorel AR – Angel from Montgomery – She works on a food truck called “Big Byrd’s Barbecue” with her dad. He was following his dream opening a food truck, and she’s doing the same thing pursuing music. Her town is TINY. People drive lawn mowers down the street. She’s been singing all her life, with her family’s encouragement. She’s skipping college to pursue her love of music. Ha. Kelly finally gets her revenge, blocking Blake. John, Gwen and Kelly all turn. She has a very pretty tone. Her phrasing is gorgeous. Blake saw Kelly block, but turns anyway, getting it out of the way. “Pick Gwen!” he urges. John loves her strong clear tone, and lovely falsetto. I agree! He thinks she’ll be one of the top contestants this season. Gwen loves her rasp and softness. Kelly professes her love for Bonnie Raitt, before “Don’t Speak” blares over the PA. I think the producers are playing tricks on her. Marybeth loves Adele and Chris Stapleton. John reminds her that he won the show with a contestant who sang Adele songs. Marybeth Picks John. The look on her face when he spoke, I KNEW she would pick him. Poor Kelly. Blake confesses to the “Don’t Speak” joke. Hm. Still the producers’ idea. I bet.
Tamika J – 34 – Miami FL – You Got Me – Her parents are from Haiti. She grew up with a lot of Haitians in Florida. She imitates her mother perfectly! By day, she’s a behavioral interventionist at a middle school. She works with developmentally delayed kids. She’s rapping. Well. Hip hop doesn’t go over on this show. Kelly wants to turn. The performance is uneven, though. Her breath control needs work. No Turns. Gwen liked her vibrato but found the rapping “challenging” for a blind audition. Kelly loved the rapping, but there was a “little step” missing. John thought she didn’t reveal enough information on the singing parts. Kelly is already regretting not hitting her button.
Kiara Brown – 21 – Las Vegas NV – Free Fallin – Her mom explains that Kiara started singing before she turned two. She and her dad have always worked on music together. She’s a songwriter at heart, writing a song after the 2017 Route 91 shooting which she shared with the city. We even hear a bit of it! On The Voice, original songs are typically off limits until the finale. Picking a rock classic is bold and unexpected. She has a lovely, sweet tone. So gentle, but it still gets my attention. Nobody turns at first. She needs to hit a glory note for this crowd. But finally, Blake and Gwen turn. Blake is mad Gwen hit her button. John loved the mellow beginning. The chorus “didn’t do it for me.” Kelly kept waiting for her to go big. Blake calls her voice hypnotic, and liked the arrangement. He hits his button to demonstrate–and it’s still set to play “Don’t Speak.” Oops. He just offed himself. Kelly calls him a liar, before a back and forth about the button ensues. WAY TOO MANY ANTICS PRODUCERS. Gwen loves her singer/songwriter side. And Kiara Picks Gwen Blake thinks his antics derailed his chances.
Melinda Rodriguez – 23 – Miami FL – What A Wonderful World – Melinda’s best friend is her brother. She’s finishing her degree in Jazz music. A trained musician. She was attending the New England Conservatory of Music when her brother had a heart transplant. It failed, and now he’s back on the list. He’s risking his spot to attend his sister’s audition. As expected, she’s a beautiful singer. With a gorgeous tone and perfect intonation. Her subtle vocal flourishes are impressive. Kelly and Gwen hit their buttons. I bet she was hoping for John. Blake says he knows when to step back. John liked her creativity. He doesn’t explain why he didn’t turn (or it was edited out). Gwen calls it relaxed and creative. She could help her with stage presence. Good point, actually. Kelly name checks Eva Cassidy. That perks Melinda right up. Melinda Picks Kelly.
Jon Rizzo – 34 – Oceanside NY – Let Her Cry – He comes from a big Italian family. And he’s laying on the accent to prove it. Why do none of my New York Italian American relatives talk like that? They must be doing something wrong. Hm. His family is LOUD. Well, OK. I’ll go with that. Repeating the phrase ‘How you doin'” is embarrassing, Jon complains. (Pro tip: Yes, it is) Are the producers asking him to indulge in dumb Italian American tropes? Ugh. I rue the day Jersey Shore hit the airwaves. His dad is also a musician. Jon puts on his best Darius Rucker imitation here, but with poor intonation. Unsurprisingly No Turns. Kelly called it too much of an imitation. Yep. Gwen thinks parts were overdone. Yes, the growls were too much He needs to work on his enunciation, says John. Jon plays in a 90’s tribute band. After the audition, Blake observers that it’s “a little too tribute-y”
Cali Wilson – 28 – Salem IA – Dreams – She’s a kickboxing instructor. Her hometown is tiny, so she moved to Nashville to be a singer. Her single mom was a professional singer who eventually went to nursing school. “She’s living my dream,” mom says. Backstage with mom is Carli’s girlfriend. The singer is very good–possessing a beautiful alto tone and phrasing. But nobody is turning! Finally John and Blake turn followed by Gwen. John calls her tone super gorgeous. He compliments her control. Yes, her control was magnificent. Blake claims he’s been to Salem. Not a lie because Carli saw him at the gas station. Wow. Kelly thinks Blake is drunk. He might be. And Cali Picks….CLIFFHANGER! We find out tomorrow.