Blind Auditions on Season 15 of The Voice got off to a slow start last week, but this Tuesday we may have met the next winner. Chicago rock ’n’ soul powerhouse SandyRedd did not come to play; she came to slay.
The hairography! The leather hot pants! The Pretty Woman boots! The backbend! And that magnificent lioness’s roar of a voice! SandyRedd was serving Tina Turner realness, and all the Voice stage was her Thunderdome.
SandyRedd’s four-chair performance of Bishop Briggs’s “River” was so wild and electrifying and explosive, the performer had Jennifer Hudson throwing both of her shoes, Adam Levine presenting one of his sneakers, Kelly Clarkson handing over a Team Kelly satin jacket, and Blake Shelton leaving an offering onstage: his drinking cup. And you know if Blake was willing to even temporarily part with his ubiquitous mysterious libation, SandyRedd must be really, really good.
Kelly was — in a Voice first — rendered temporarily speechless. But she eventually stammered, “I don’t know who you’re gonna pick, but I don’t care. I just can’t wait to watch you on this show. You are fire.” And somehow, that low-key sales tactic worked: SandyRedd joined Team Kelly, instead of going with the obvious choice, fellow Chicagoan Jennifer. (Considering that Kelly had blocked Jennifer from getting gospel singer Kymberli Joye the previous night, this loss truly had to sting.) Now it looks as if Kelly, who won last season with a teen country ingenue, might win again with a seasoned diva.
Tuesday was the first night of Blinds that actually got me excited for this season; along with SandyRedd, there were a few other singers that we just might see in the finale. Take a look. …
Reagan Strange, 13: “Meant to Be”
Reagan has a ton of potential for someone so young, and her climactic high note was lovely, but she isn’t quite ready for prime time. Nerves got the better of her, and she sounded breathless and rushed. (She does have a cool name, though; sounds like she should be fronting an ’80s punk band.)
Who turned? Adam, Blake. Apparently it was meant to be! I think she should have been told to come back. She obviously has plenty of time to develop.
Result: Team Adam.
Fousheé, 28: “Redbone”
This Harlem diva, who sings in the house band at Cafe Wha? (on a stage once graced by Hendrix and Dylan), had so much star power that the Voice audience was cheering before she even opened her mouth. The coaches were intrigued. So was I. This charismatic lady put her own sexy, stylized spin on the Childish Gambino slow-jam, and her Mariah dolphin-whistle note was everything. Adam called it her “outer-space voice.”
Who turned? Adam and Jennifer. How did Fousheé not turn all four chairs? And can we just fast-forward to a SandyRedd/Fousheé finale?
Result: Team Adam! I thought poor Jennifer had it in the bag.
Wyatt Rivers, 22: “River”
I appreciated the Leon Bridges (not Bishop Briggs) song choice — but Wyatt didn’t have a nano-fraction of Leon’s soul. He held back the entire time, and his limp performance went nowhere. Jennifer seemed visibly frustrated during this audition. I wasn’t too concerned for Wyatt, though, since he has a solid Plan B: He’s starting medical school this year.
Who turned? No one.
Result: Team Kelsea. Somehow Wyatt still scored a spot on the Island of Misfit Toys, aka the new “Comeback Stage” team mentored by fifth coach Kelsea Ballerini. But my guess is that he won’t be on the show for long, so it’s good he has that whole doctor thing to fall back on.
Chris Kroeze, 27: “Pride and Joy”
OK, this small-town beardy rocker had soul! The energy in the studio instantly elevated when he cranked out this Stevie Ray Vaughan barnstormer and let out that big, throaty growl. “He was sangin’!” proclaimed Jennifer.
Who turned? Jennifer, who nearly threw her shoe at Chris, and Blake, who praised Chris’s “Ricky Skaggs-type pickin’.”
Result: Team Blake. I think Blake had Chris at “Ricky Skaggs.” This really wasn’t Jennifer’s night.
MaKenzie Thomas, 20: “Big White Room”
I recall MaKenzie from her own “Redbone” audition last year. She had a big, pure voice, and she should have turned at least one chair. I’m glad she came back, because, as Adam told her, “The improvement is tremendous.” Her Jessie J cover showcased a masterful control of soft/loud dynamics, an ability to connect to an emotional lyric, and new confidence.
Who turned? Only Jennifer, surprisingly. I thought stank-faced Kelly was a shoo-in.
Result: Team J.Hud. Jennifer’s luck was turning. Blake said MacKenzie could be a “dark horse.”
Come back next Monday for the final week of Season 15 Blind Auditions — even though SandyRedd will be tough to top.
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