The Live Shows Premiere
And now, it gets real: Adam and Blake's artists know there's no safety net, no second chances and no do-overs. Screw up and you're going home. Of course the singers have already faced plenty of pressure in the battles and knockouts, but starting tonight, their fate is in America's hands. Time to cowboy up, as Blake might say. But part of what makes this The Voice is that the coaches practice what they preach. In the night's kickoff, Xtina joins rapper Flo Rida to show 'em how it's done, singing their new single "How I Feel."
Carson knows the drill: Teams Adam and Blake sing tonight, and Xtina and CeeLo tomorrow. Voting opens at 9:55 p.m. EST and closes Tuesday at 11:00 a.m. EST. Vote on all the platforms you want: NBC.com, Facebook, Sprint SMS, toll-free, Zeebox, iTunes. Ten votes per artist per method. And just like that we're underway with the night's first artist.
First up is Shelbie Z. The Alabama singer with the huge voice and easy smile picks a bit of classic country: Bobbie Gentry's "Fancy." The hard-scrabble ballad suits Shelbie to a T. She works the stage with grace, connecting with the song's self-made theme and connecting with the capacity crowd.
Carson calls James Wolpert to the stage next. The one-time Apple Store Genius hopes he's made a genius song pick: Joni Mitchell's "A Case of You." It's a risky move in that Joni Mitchell's voice really can't be emulated by anyone, but James does his best to make it his own. He also gets the benefit of the song being somewhat obscure, but ready to be rediscovered. The audience gives him a positive and polite reception.
Nic Hawk steps up to the stage. The colorful singer is tackling a red-hot song, Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines." Coach Blake Shelton smoothes some of Nic's rough vocal edges and encourages him to keep focused as he sings. When Paul Mirkovich strikes up the band, Nic gives it all he's got.
Ray Boudreaux gets the call next. The swarthy Louisiana crooner picks a funky Southern ballad to make his bid for the Top 12. His choice? Marc Broussard's "Home." It's a powerful, rhythmic performance, and Ray finishes up with a million-dollar smile, confident that he's given his best.
Large and in-charge singer Austin Jenckes is up next. The singer-songwriter has dedicated his efforts on the show in memory of his troubled father, who committed suicide when Austin was just a teen. His song, The Black Crowes "She Talks to Angels," couldn't be more right for him. He immediately finds the song's emotional core, baring his soul for a mesmerized audience.
Next on the ticket: chanteuse Grey. The Berklee School of Music grad channels her inner rock chick, singing Paramore's "Still Into You." The snappy pop number allows her to display her natural energy and verve; the song's vocal challenges prove to be no problem.
Will Champlin is in the spotlight next. His earlier sessions with Adam and his adviser Ryan Tedder clearly gave him affection for Tedder's band OneRepublic. Will sings their "Secrets," putting an original spin on the pop hit.
After earlier performances with reggae and dance numbers, Preston Pohl picks a song that should be a natural fit: "Nothin' on You," originally by B.o.B. featuring Bruno Mars. Sure enough, the tune is a worthy showcase for the former Christian rock band player.
Cole Vosbury has a rock 'n' roll classic to work with: Rod Stewart's "Maggie May." The original vocals on the song are so indelibly Rod's that no singer would dare try to emulate them. But the song's hard rocking core gives Cole plenty of room to craft his own interpretation. And rock he does, propelling the song skyward and launching the audience to its feet.
The night's final performance is at hand. Former professional backup singer Tessanne Chin takes the stage. After years singing behind Jimmy Cliff, it's only natural that she chooses one of his signature songs to carry her through to the Top 12. The soulful "Many Rivers to Cross" gives Tessanne an ample opportunity to strut her soaring vocals for the crowd. Jimmy Cliff may have the iconic version of the song, but Tessanne can lay claim to maybe its finest cover.
When the smoke clears, Carson steps up to remind everyone to vote. The artists and coaches immediately take to their social accounts to get the word out; the stagehands begin prepping the boards for tomorrow night's show; and the audience lingers just a few minutes, taking in the 10 remarkable performances and performers they've had the pleasure of seeing tonight. The night one lineup has lit up the live shows with style.