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Why Kamalei Kawa’a’s “Spiritual” Cover of “Redemption Song” Blew Away the Coaches

Kamalei got a Two-Chair Turn and a spot on Team Chance for Season 25 of The Voice.

By Cassidy Ward

Singer Kamalei Kawa'a hails from Paukukalo, Maui, where he lives alongside four generations of native Hawaiians, surrounded by family, sunshine, and music. After a life dedicated to music and hula, Kamalei was encouraged by his wife to audition for Season 25 of The Voice.

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Watch The Voice Mondays and Tuesdays at 8/7c on NBC and next day on Peacock. 

Kamalei, 26, brought a guitar, a silky-smooth voice, and an underrepresented perspective to the stage with a rendition of “Redemption Song” by Bob Marley and the Wailers.

RELATED: An Official Recap of Team Chance on The Voice Season 25

"I hope the Coaches will be able to feel the words that I sing. There’s a cultural connection there, my people have been through a lot of the same struggles and the lyrics of the song remind us to set yourself free," Kamalei said. "It’s my hope that through what I’m going to do on the stage, the rest of the world can see how beautiful our people can be."

Kamalei Kawa’a Sings Bob Marley and The Wailers' “Redemption Song” During the Blinds

Kamalei Kawa'a appears in Season 25 Episode 3 of The Voice

Only a few of Kamalei's crooning notes filtered out across The Voice stage before Chance the Rapper slammed his buzzer. Kamalei took the song down a comfortingly familiar path with a few welcome detours into terrain unexplored by Marley. Most of the song was a one-on-one serenade between Kamelie and Chance, but with only a few seconds and a few notes remaining, Reba McEntire hit her buzzer, earning Kamalei a Two-Chair Turn.

"Doing “Redemption Song” in front of millions of people, it brought something out of me,” Chance said. “It's a very radical song and it means a lot to all oppressed peoples around the world, and I think having you on here and representing Pacific Islanders, Indigenous People, Hawaiians, people around the world. I think it's really important for the show to have."

RELATED: Chance the Rapper Lights Up the Empire State Building for The Voice Premiere

Reba agreed with Chance’s feedback and added, “That song touched my heart. I knew that I had heard it before but not like the way you sang it. It was very spiritual to me and that’s why I turned around.”

With two Coaches to choose from, a decision had to be made, and fast. The early Turn and solid pitch likely tipped the scales, and Kamalei joined Team Chance.

“Kamalei is a force. I really think that he’s a star. He has a voice like no other, the control is always there, it’s almost like a studio recording,” Chance said. “He’s got a great story to tell, and I’m happy to help him tell it.”

See the next chapter in Kamalei’s story on The Voice Mondays at 8/7c and Tuesdays at 9/8c on NBC and next day on Peacock.