Following the Least Shocking Cliffhanger Voice Ever (Monday night’s final singer, folksy small-town girl Cali Wilson, joined Team Blake), Tuesday’s The Voice Season 17 Blind Auditions got underway with some much more interesting and surprising results. Most notable was the performance by 21-year-old twins Dane & Stephanie, who made Voice history when Dane revealed that he is trans.
“I was born female. I always remember, in elementary school, I would vividly daydream about being a boy and how I would look,” Dane, who used to go by the name Dana, told host Carson Daly, as footage of him singing with Stephanie in his pre-transition days and old family photos flashed on the screen. “I was 14 when I realized I was transgender. I was so closed-off about who I was and in a really bad place with myself. ... It took me a while just to tell Stephanie. There were so many times that I wanted to, but I was scared of the reaction I was going to get.”
Stephanie was thankfully supportive — “He deserves to be happy just as much as anyone else does,” she said — as were Stephanie and Dane’s loving parents. “It's hard, it's a transition, but I will never turn my back on my kids. I'm proud of all my children, no matter what,” proclaimed their father. “I'm extremely proud for Dane to be able to come forward and say, ‘This is who I am,’” their mom added.
Reflecting on what The Voice is supposed to be all about — vocals, first and foremost — Stephanie said, “I love the whole idea behind the coaches not seeing you and just hearing your voice. And for us, it's based on how we sound together.”
And they sounded great together. Taking the stage to warble the Lumineers’ “Angela,” Dane wavered a bit at first (he’d mentioned that his voice is still changing as he takes hormones, though singing is helping with that), but once he and Stephanie started harmonizing, their vocal blend was lilting and lovely. It was actually reminiscent of another, famous twin duo, Tegan and Sara, and it was a winning combination that had both John Legend and Blake Shelton turning their chairs.
Blake did mention that he’s the only Voice coach to ever make it to the finale with a duo (another, albeit very different, sibling act, Season 4’s Swon Brothers), but John was the one who truly understood where Dane & Stephanie were coming from artistically. “I directed choirs when I was growing up. I love the idea of arranging multiple vocals together, so I would love to have you on my team,” he said. And just like that, Dane & Stephanie became the stuff of Team Legend.
Dane may not have been the first transgender contestant to ever appear on the U.S. version of The Voice, a GLAAD Media Award-winning show with a long history of LGBTQ inclusivity. That would be trans woman Angel Bonilla, in Season 14. But both Angel’s Blind Audition and Battle Round were montaged, meaning she received scarcely any screentime at all. Dane & Stephanie’s inspiring (and extremely unique) family story, however, got the full, generous Voice treatment Tuesday — so whether they make it to the finale or even past the Battles, their story has hopefully already resonated with millions of viewers.