Niall Blocks Kelly for Kala Banham On A Joni Mitchell Classic
Part 2 of The Voice premiere aired on Tuesday featuring four chair-turning competitors, and a block that ended up being a favorite audition of both nights. For the second time, a coach blocked Kelly Clarkson. Blake Shelton did it on Night 1. And on Night 2, newbie coach Niall Horan blocked Kelly from singer Kala Banham.
Kala is a 24-year-old from Windermere, Florida. “Koala without the o,” is how to pronounced it, she said. The singer’s Filipino mom explained that in the Filipino culture, when kids perform in front of the “oldies,” they throw money.” Kala has always wanted to sing, mom shared, “expecting that the grandparents were throwing money for her.”
In college, the singer performed in a competitive acapella group, and now she works at a PR agency assisting music clients. She doesn’t have much time for her own music endeavors anymore, but she still decided to give The Voice a try. Although any turns would be great, she said, “Kelly Clarkson is a dream” as far as coaches go.
Prior to her performance, Kala explained that she picked the classic Joni Mitchell song because it allows her to be “vulnerable,” adding, “all I have to connect with these coaches is my voice and the lyrics. I didn’t think that being a full-time musician was attainable for me, but this is my passion.”
The arrangement starts out stripped back with some beautiful flips from her chest voice to head voice. Her rendition is magical sounding as her tone is a mix of indie folk with some pop and jazz influences. After her first belting note, both Kelly and Niall turn, with Niall blocking Kelly.
Her range was surprising after that quiet open. I wasn’t expecting her voice to open up like that and have that much range. Her technical ability is quite impressive as she shows off multiple skills from her repertoire.
Chance the Rapper turns later in the song before she finishes with a held out note, followed by a tender ending that conveys the emotion in the lyrics. This performance featured beautiful dynamics from start to finish.
Kelly exclaims, “Blake, what are you doing” as the performance wraps up. She once again is shocked that Blake did not turn, and she tells Kala, “you are so good.: She said, “we would have been beautiful together. I’m going to steal you, mark my words.”
Niall calls the song choice “impeccable,” describing it as “brittle and tender.” He fights hard to get Kala. Chance calls her voice the “most unique voice so far” with the “most control and range.” He wants her to sing some out of the box artists like Joanna Newsom. Kelly is very annoyed that Niall blocked her.
Blake claims that he never heard “Both Sides Now” before, but that’s not true. Addison Agen, the Season 13 runner up, sang that song for the semifinals. He continues to joke about not knowing the song and finally after being impressed by Chance’s knowledge, says to Kala, “you’re going to have to take your chance.” The singer ultimately chooses Niall as her coach, so the block paid off for the newbie coach
Other than Kala, the other stand out of the night was Sheer Element (Team Kelly). Group member Jej Vinson from Season 16 made history by being the first competitor who previously turned a chair to return to the show. It was fun to see his reunion with Kelly, and the group had a soulful performance, with tight harmonies. Both nights of the premiere had trios, and both were strong competitors, so it’ll be interesting to see how they do.