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Hear Why “Diamond in the Rough” Tanner Massey Is a Younger Version of Niall

The Coaches describe Massey's raw talent as a diamond in the rough.

By Cassidy Ward

Tanner Massey, 19, started singing when just 11-years old, encouraged by parents and the local community in Oklahoma. At 15, Massey joined a youth acapella group and performed in a music video seen by millions of people; now he’s here, auditioning for The Voice.

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Before his Blind Audition, Tanner mostly performed on social media, where vocal tracks can be recorded as many times as necessary to get them just right. Here at the Blinds, Tanner has to put everything out there on a one-time shot before the Coaches, the studio audience, and millions of people watching at home.

Tanner Massey’s Performance of “Before You Go” Earns a Three-Chair Turn

Tanner Massey performs on the voice

As the music fades in, Tanner breaks into a rendition of “Before You Go” by Louis Capaldi. Massey is young and his voice slightly inexperienced, but there’s a raw quality which captures the attention of the Coaches almost immediately. Gwen Stefani’s hand jumped to the buzzer before the second line finished, but hesitated, hovering just over the button.

Niall Horan and John Legend’s ears perked up, but Reba McEntire was the first to turn. Gwen followed suit just a moment later with Niall trailing just behind. Only John holds out, earning Tanner an impressive 3-Chair Turn. With the song finished and all Coaches facing forward, the battle for Tanner began.

“Dude, that was really good,” Horan said. “I can sense a lot of nerves. I’m fine with working with nerves. The girl I won with last year was a nervous wreck in her first audition and went on to win the thing.” Perhaps taking advantage of his position as the only Coach not in competition for Tanner, Legend made a couple of light-hearted barbs at Horan’s expense.

“Oh, you won last season? Okay. I wasn’t aware,” Legend said, chuckling. Ignoring Legend, Horan continued. “To stand up there and do what you’re doing is really hard. You should be very proud of yourself for giving it a crack and singing a tough song. Louis [Capaldi] would have been very proud of that version; I’ll send it to him.”

It was, perhaps, a dirty trick and Legend called it out in so many words. “You get that? He knows Louis; he can text him,” Legend said, tongue firmly planted in his cheek. But it’s not the only trick up Horan’s sleeve.

“I feel like I’m talking to a younger version of myself… I’d love to have you on Team Niall.”

Of course, there were two other Coaches bidding for Tanner and they both made a pitch. “Well, Tanner, fellow Okie. I’m from southeastern Oklahoma and if you didn’t realize this, I was the first to turn around. Because I love your voice, it grabbed my attention from the very beginning. I’ve been doing this for many, many years and I think I could give you some advice, help you out, whether it’s stage presence or selecting songs. I’d love to have you on my team.” Then, just to sweeten the deal, Reba gestured to her signature tater tot cart saying, “and I do have some great tater tots over there.”

Gwen came in at the end to toss her hat in the ring, touting the fact (unseen by Tanner) that she almost turned in the first few seconds of his Blind Audition. “Right when you came on, I was hovering [over the button] because I love that tone in your voice. You didn’t sound nervous then to me it just sounded really beautiful and pretty and airy and warm. You’re like a diamond in the rough. The dream is just so alive in you. I would love to coach you, teach you, hang with you, and watch you grow before my eyes,” said Stefani.

“There’s probably a guy who wants the last word,” Legend added, referencing a beaming Niall Horan. “Tanner this will be… we’d be really good. I’m not messing around,” Horan says. And then it’s time to choose and no one has to wait long. Tanner pauses only a moment before joining Team Niall.

“I picked Niall because when he said, ‘you’re like a younger version of me’ I knew who I was picking,” Tanner said.

Keep up on the Blinds and the rest of the competition on The Voice Mondays and Tuesdays at 8/7c on NBC and next day on Peacock!