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Why “Electric,” “Phenomenal” Country Artist Tae Lewis Sparked a John-Reba Duel

It was John vs. Reba for this Blind Audition breakout.

By Matthew Jackson

The first episode of any season of The Voice is a tone-setter, in more ways than one. For the contestants, it sets a certain baseline of talent and craft that will be met, and even surpassed, by future episodes. For the Coaches, it determines what kind of teams they're going to set out to build... and how they're going to battle each other to make those teams work.

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

The first major Coach battle of the season came just 20 minutes into Season 25's premiere tonight, when John Legend and Reba McEntire both vied for the affections of Tae Lewis, a Nashville-based country Artist hoping to hit the next level in his growing career. In his intro video, Lewis explained some of the challenges he's faced as a Black singer trying to make it in country music, and why his Blind Audition song choice, Keith Urban's "Somebody Like You," reflects that.

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"The song is basically about loving oneself before you can love somebody else," Lewis explained. "I definitely relate to this song because I didn't love myself at one point. For a long time I felt like I didn't have a certain place in country music because of what I look like or where I came from. A Chair Turn would be so validating for me."

Tae Lewis Plays Keith Urban's "Somebody Like You" During The Voice Season 25 Blind Auditions

Guitar in hand, Lewis launched into his song choice, and almost immediately drew a Chair Turn from Legend, who happily watched as the other Coaches continued to listen and evaluate. As she often does, McEntire waited until the high notes of the song's chorus before hitting her button and turning her own Chair, making sure she liked the full range of Lewis' voice. In the end, Legend and McEntire were the only two Chair Turns that Lewis got, but that didn't mean no one else was interested.

"Reba had turned around, and I got really scared, to be honest with you," Shay Mooney, one half of the Coach team Dan + Shay, explained after the audition. "You got the Queen of Country Music over there, I didn't want to stand in the way."

Tae Lewis performs during Season 25 Episode 1 of The Voice

With that said, Dan + Shay threw their weight behind McEntire as the right Coach for Lewis, but fellow Coach Chance the Rapper had another endorsement in mind.

"It could be really cool to see what directions John takes your arrangements in," Chance said, referring to Legend. "He could kinda pull out a lot of soul, and I think you guys collaborating could just make for some fire performances on the show."

Then it was time for the two contending Coaches to make their case, and Legend wasted no time in emphasizing his interest in crafting a special relationship with Lewis.

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"Your voice is so electric. You just look like you belong on the stage singing the music that you're singing," Legend said. "I took a country artist to the Lives with me, because she didn't have to compete with, you know, the three, four, five, whatever country artists that are gonna be on Reba's team. The lane is clear for you my friend."

McEntire, Queen of Country Music scepter in hand, was having none of it.

"John's name is Legend, but according to Wikipedia and my Mama, I am legend too," she said.

After a little more friendly arguing, it was up to Lewis to make a decision, and he wasted no time in choosing McEntire to be his Coach, giving Team Reba its first artist of the season. After Lewis was gone, Reba Tenders in hand, Legend gave himself a little credit for not backing down even while working in McEntire's lane.

"I put up a fight, Reba," he said.

"You did, and I brought out all the ammunition I had," McEntire replied. "Well, maybe."

How far will Lewis go? How will the John-Reba rivalry evolve? Find out on The VoiceMondays and Tuesdays at 8/7c on NBC, and streaming next day on Peacock.