‘The Voice’: Grammy Nominee Billy Gilman Auditions With An Adele Hit
There has to be some limit as to who can try out for The Voice, right? Some sort of Olympics-esque rule that opens the competition to amateurs would only really be in the spirit of a show that prides itself in discovering new voices. Sure, there could be a little bit of wiggle room for professional back up singers, but once you’ve had a recording contract, world tour, or – I don’t know – a GRAMMY NOMINATION – it’s a little late to be talking about new talent discovery, right? Dead wrong.
Tuesday (September 20) night’s Blind Auditions went further than ever past the gray area of back up singers when an actual Grammy nominee that took the stage to audition in front of Miley Cyrus, Alicia Keys, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton. Sure, he was nominated for a Grammy when he was 11, but still. Hasn’t the career already been launched?
(Lack of) rules are (lack of) rules, though, so bring on the second chancers. Here’s the talent – professional and otherwise – who made it through Tuesday’s Blind Auditions:
Sa’rayah, 28 – Illinois
Single mother and lounge singer Sa’rayah starts off the night with Ray Charles’ “Drown In My Own Tears.” After an insanely powerful first note, she gets turns from Miley and then Alicia. The rest of the performance is strong and theatric, and has both of the ladies out of their seats dancing.
“You brought hope and love into the room and filled the space with your voice,” says Miley. “Everything that I see right now is you. I would love to see you win this show.”
“You blew me all the way back to the whole end of the galaxy with your voice,” says Alicia. “It’s not just about winning this, it’s about winning your life.”
Sa’rayah picks Miley, who could not be more thrilled.
Ethan Tucker, 26 – Washington
Delving into the gray area of professional singers is Ethan Tucker, who has opened for the likes of Jimmy Cliff, Buddy Guy and Ziggy Marley. We’ll let it slide, primarily because we have no choice in the matter. Ethan sings a gravely reggae cover of Sting’s “Roxanne,” and despite some pitch problems Adam and Blake turn around at the last moment.
“You made a reggae-infused rock-and-roll song more reggae,” says Adam. “That last note showed me that [your voice] wasn’t just a gimmick,” says Adam.
“It’s like you gargle with broken glass or something,” says Blake, presumably intended as a compliment. Blake then leans on the cred of his girlfriend, Gwen Stefani, telling Ethan, “I do have some serious connections in that reggae-ska world these days.”
Gargling glass and Gwen Stefani for the win: Ethan joins Team Blake.
Wé McDonald, 17 – New Jersey
In an extreme case of the singing voice not matching the talking voice, high talker Wé McDonald pulls out a helluva deep, soulful vocal when she sings Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good.” The musical theatre student earns a four-chair turn, later shocking coaches with her incongruous speaking voice.
“Your voice was so strong,” says Miley. “You have four people who are about to go HAM to get you on their team.”
“You’re so perfectly yourself. I just feel so much inside of you,” says Alicia. “You came to this show to meet me.”
“You’re the kind of person that we learn from,” says Blake. “I would do anything to be your coach.”
“That whole performance was so remarkable,” says Adam. “There’s so much that you have to learn, and I can teach you.”
Overwhelmed by the love from the coaches, Wé picks Alicia.
Andrew DeMuro, 25 – Illinois
Classic rock lover Andrew DeMuro takes his vibrato to a very straightforward performance of Billy Joel’s “Vienna.” What it lacks in artistry, it makes up for in…Blake and Adam liking Billy Joel? For whatever reason, both guys turn around late in the song.
“I love Billy Joel!” says Adam. “You have that joy in singing that I really love to hear,” says Adam.
“Winning this show is very important to me because it how we get you to where you want to be,” says Blake. “All I can do is shine the spotlight on you.”
Sharing a love of Billy Joel is important, so Andrew joins Team Adam.
Billy Gilman, 28 – Rhode Island
As promised, a Grammy nominee takes the stage. Former child country singer Billy Gilman, the youngest person to have a Top 40 country hit (with “One Voice”), is looking to reinvent himself as a pop singer on the Voice stage. He sings Adele’s “When We Were Young,” demonstrating a professionally trained and controlled voice, and gets last minute turns from Alicia and Blake.
“I know who the hell you are,” says Miley after Billy notes he toured with her dad, Billy Ray Cyrus.
“That intangible quality that you possess is exactly what embodies the person that wins this show,” says Adam. “I’m not sitting down until you join my team.”
“Thank you for today,” says Alicia. “Gorgeous voice. Well done.”
“I know Billy!” says Blake. “Now you found your sound, and where you belong musically.”
Billy decides to re-launch his career on Team Adam, despite both Miley and Blake knowing him.
Sophia Urista, 31 – New York
Burlesque host Sophia Urista has got it. She owns the stage as she growls her way through “Come together” by The Beatles in a voice reminiscent of ’80s era Michael Jackson. Miley and Alicia, on the same page as always, turn around for the talented performer.
“We need to be together so we can continue to scare all the men in the world who need to be shown that a woman’s power cannot be contained,” says Alicia, comparing Sophia to Janis Joplin and Tina Turner.
“You sounded like a rock and roll Dolly Parton to me,” says Miley, who then pulls out her secret weapon: a five-second video from Dolly saying, “You just have to pick Miley because she’s my goddaughter.”
You really can’t turn Dolly down! Sophia joins Team Miley.
Brendan Fletcher, 26 – New York
Taking the energy level down a notch is Brendan Fletcher, a talented, soulful, raspy singer who shows his big voice singing Ray LaMontagne’s “Jolene.” Adam, Alicia and Miley all turn around for the emotional singer, who actually sounds a bit like LaMontagne as he lulls the audience in a relaxed moment.
“New Yorkers are artists. I’m about classic, timeless music that loves forever. I hear that all time voice,” says Alicia.
“I just want to make sure you say, ‘Hey I just won the voice. I’m ready to go on my world tour,’ and I”d love to go and be a part of that,” says Miley.
“This voice can be the voice,” says Adam. “It’s about somebody who can connect with an audience and who can feel something that is genuine. Everybody felt what was happening in here.”
Brendan picks Adam, becoming a strong addition to the team.
Dan Shafer, 56 – Tennessee
The coaches make Dan Shafer’s performance a real nail-biter, as Blake waits until the last moment to turn around. The former commercial jingle singer gives a sweet performance of Train’s “Marry Me,” and dazzles the country coach with his falsetto. Blake just loves the unexpected contestant, and is delighted to have the oldest contestant of the season on his team.
“This is why I love this show,” says Blake. “Your voice sounded so young to me.”Lauren Diaz, 24 – California
Closing out the night with a bang – or at least a rock – is vocal coach Lauren Diaz. Having appeared on America’s Most Talented Kids, the self-professed diehard Alicia Keys fan is not new to reality competition shows, just new to one that anybody watches. Lauren sings her favorite coach’s “If I Ain’t Got You,” and gets Alicia, Blake and Miley to turn around. You see where this is going, right?
“It gets to the point where someone is so talented that it’s just disrespectful not to press your button,” says Blake.
“I turned for fun,” says Miley, handing the mic to Alicia.
“There’s no denying this God-given talent that you have, and I just know that you and me are meant to be together,” says Alicia. “The way you interpreted that song, that’s the reason why I sing.” As if that’s not enough, Alicia then inserts “Lauren” in place of “You” and belts out “If I Ain’t Got Lauren.”
Naturally, Lauren picks Alicia. But wait, there’s more.
Either adding to her already big day or overshadowing her personal accomplishment – viewpoint dependent on how rom com you are – Lauren’s boyfriend then proposes to her backstage (bringing back memories of Season 9’s long-forgotten Amanda and Jubal). She says yes, and new coach Alicia Keys is there to witness this deeply personal moment.
How could week two possibly top a week that included both a Grammy nominee and a proposal? Only one way to find out! The Voice Blind Auditions continue next Monday and Tuesday.