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Jackson Snelling’s “Gorgeous” Voice Sparked Reba and Gwen’s 1st Fight of Season 24

Jackson Snelling's moving story and gorgeous voice got the Coaches' attention early.

By Matthew Jackson

On The Voice, a moving story can quickly win a singer the audience's heart, even before they hit the stage for their Blind Audition. But when you back that up by pouring your passion and emotion into a moving song? Well, you've got a Coach showdown on your hands. 

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Watch The Voice on NBC and Peacock. 

That's what happened for Jackson Snelling, a young man from the small town of Austin, Indiana who took the stage after telling viewers his story, introducing them to his autistic brother Dawson and talking openly about the loss of his father. According to Snelling, he was taking The Voice stage on Monday night to make his father proud and to pay tribute to him with a song about missing someone: "If Heaven Wasn't So Far Away" by Justin Moore. 

What happened next proved he was ready for the moment.

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Watch Jackson Snelling sing Justin Moore's "If Heaven Wasn't So Far Away" during The Voice Season 24 Blind Auditions

Jackson Snelling performs onstage during the Season 24 premiere of The Voice.

Almost immediately after launching into his song, Snelling got one Coach on his side: Gwen Stefani. The camera lingered on Reba McEntire, who seemed to be searching for something specific. Finally, near the end of the chorus, she got it when Snelling hit the highest note in the song. McEntire turned her chair, which immediately prompted Stefani to shout "No!" and run across the stage to try and jokingly block McEntire's view with her coat.

RELATED: What Awards Has Reba McEntire Won?

"You have a gorgeous tone of voice," Coach John Legend said after things calmed down and the Coaches were able to chat with Snelling. "It was really inviting, it was warm. You're in very good hands, and I'm very excited for you."

Then, McEntire took the chance to quiz Snelling on his influences, asking: "Who did you grow up listening to?"

Without missing a beat, Snelling replied: "I grew up listening to you, Miss Reba."

"I tell you, Jackson, I love country music so much," McEntire replied. "I grew up on a working cattle ranch. I'm a third generation rodeo brat, so country music is my life, my foundation, so to hear you come on The Voice and sing like you did today, I am just so proud to be in country music and proud that you're representing us."

She added, "We would have so much fun together developing you to make those finals and win this thing."

After McEntire thoroughly starstruck Snelling, Stefani stepped up to make her case: "I'm very super-selective on when I press my button, especially sitting next to Reba McEntire," Stefani said. "She's gonna judge me, OK? At that moment, it was like nothing else mattered. What you did so well with your tone, and the way that you just cradled the lyrics, you really did touch my heart. But listen, I know that the Queen is gonna come beat me right now."

Jackson Snelling performs onstage during the Season 24 premiere of The Voice

Then the playful argument began, with McEntire continually brandishing her scepter identifying her as the Queen of Country (and possibly the Queen of The Voice now that she's joined the show). 

"My gosh, you're a good salesperson," McEntire told Stefani, drawing laughs from the audience. Still trying to win Snelling over, Stefani name-dropped her husband, country music icon Blake Shelton, and talked about her credentials: "I've had two number-one country hits on country radio," she said.

McEntire responded: "I've had more than two. Next."

"Pick me as your Coach if you don't pick Reba," Stefani said, resting her case while seemingly resigned to her eventual fate.

Sure enough, while he appreciated Stefani's arguments, Snelling went with his gut and his childhood influences and picked "Miss Reba" to be his Coach. 

How far will Jackson Snelling go? Find out by watching The Voice Mondays and Tuesdays at 8/7c on NBC and next day on Peacock. 

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