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How Dylan Carter "Moved the Room" and Made the Coaches Cry in His 4-Chair Audition

Every Voice Audition is meaningful, but some — including Carter's — hit the feels extra hard.

By Matthew Jackson

Every The Voice Contestant has a story — a reason they've made it to the show's grand stage to perform for the Coaches. Sometimes it's about personal fulfillment, sometimes it's about carrying a family forward, and sometimes it's about paying tribute to someone who left us too soon. 

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For Dylan Carter, a 20-year-old singer from South Carolina, his trip to The Voice stage was all about his late mother. In his introduction, the young vocalist explained that he'd grown up with music because of his mother and that one of her favorite songs was Whitney Houston's "I Look to You." The song meant so much, Carter said, that his mother requested he sing it at her funeral.

Sadly, that funeral came all too quickly, and when his mother passed away last year unexpectedly, Carter found himself struggling to make it through her requested tribute. So, when the opportunity for a Blind Audition on The Voice came, he seized it as a chance to pay tribute to his mother on an even grander stage.

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"I have not sang this song since my mom's funeral," he said just before stepping out. "I couldn't make it through it, so I'm looking at it as a second chance. I'm gonna make my Mom proud."

Watch Dylan Carter's The Voice Season 24 Blind Audition: "I Look to You" by Whitney Houston

So, Carter took the stage and delivered a version of "I Look to You" that brought all four chairs around to watch him complete the song. You could see him holding back emotions as he performed, but he made it through to the end of his Audition, and that's when the tears started to flow.

"So much emotion, and I saw it and I felt it when you were singing," Reba McEntire said, fighting back tears. "That's the kind of songs that do that to me too, because I saw you get so emotionally involved, and that's when you know you've got a great song and a great singer, when it touches your heart."

Dylan Carter performs onstage during the Season 24 Episode 7 of The Voice

She continued, "To me, as a performer, that's when you really hone in on why you're part on this Earth, when you touch people's hearts, and you did."

Coach Niall Horan added, "You only get four chairs when it really moves the room."

Gwen Stefani also noted the emotional power of Carter's performance and gave him credit for the way he developed his vocals to deliver maximum impact.

"Your voice is so warm, but you also have so much texture to your voice, little nuances you were doing at the right exact moments that make it feel emotional," Stefani said.

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When it was John Legend's turn to speak, he noted that it seemed like Carter was really feeling the song even beyond his performance, which gave the young singer a chance to talk about his tribute.

"When I saw y'all turn around, I saw my mom," he said, adding that he hadn't been able to finish the song at her funeral. "This was the best second chance."

Dylan Carter performs onstage during the Season 24 Episode 7 of The Voice

Legend replied, fighting back tears of his own, "We're all very grateful that we get to do this show and we get to meet people like you, and we get to give you this opportunity to perform this song in tribute to your mom. We all felt it too, and we know your mother's proud of you."

McEntire, still choking back tears, then told a story about her own mother, who drove her to Nashville when her career was new and told her that she was living out her own dreams through her daughter, which motivated McEntire all the more to reach for success.

"Mamas are so special," she said. "We're very blessed to have 'em, right?"

That was enough for Carter. When it came time to pick his Coach, he selected McEntire, completing the Queen of Country's 14-Artist team for Season 24.

"Something told me to go with Reba," he said. "She could be a comforting mom figure for me."