Wednesday’s episode of “The Voice” – the final night of the Playoff Rounds – opened with Brooke Simpson from Hollister, N.C., hands-down one of the strongest singers of this entire season.
The 26-year-old Native American from Halifax County – she’s a member of the Haliwa-Saponi tribe – chose the song she performed: “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” by James Brown, which her coach Miley Cyrus called a “genius choice.”
Brooke, who currently lives near Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., explained her choice: “Growing up I had my mom – who is an incredible, strong Native American woman – as a role model, and then artists who are incredibly strong females like Miley Cyrus. Yeah, this song is all about them.”
Her coach’s advice to her was to show her personality and bring down the tempo.
Miley told cameras before Brooke’s performance: “I think Brooke can do anything. She’s gone from doing Bob Dylan to Aretha Franklin. Brooke’s voice – the power behind it – I think she’s very creative with her choices. She just needs to go out and make it even more clear why she needs to stay.”
Brooke’s performance was powerful and full of emotion. At one point she whipped her hair around, eliciting an exclamation of “Damn, girl!” from her coach.
After she sang, all of the coaches weighed in.
Adam Levine: “Damn. There’s like four people . . . who can be as fierce and as energetic and as passionate and amazing as you were on that stage . . . The expert execution of that was mind blowing.”
Blake Shelton: “From the beginning to the end it was flawless and it was expert.” Blake also loved how Brooke’s leg was always “flying around” while she sang.
Jennifer Hudson: “You made me even more proud to be a woman.”
Miley called her a “powerful, amazing singer” and as she walked off the stage told her fellow coaches, “She’s one of the best.”
Brooke’s fate wasn’t revealed until the end of the show. With no hesitation at all, Brooke was Miley’s first pick to advance. She is now in the show’s Top 12.
Next up are the live rounds of the show, which start at 8 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 20. That’s when viewers will get to vote on the Top 12 singers.
The next night, Tuesday, Nov. 21, 10 singers are revealed as “safe” by the votes and the bottom two compete to see which one can stay another week.
“The Voice” airs on NBC.
Also with North Carolina ties
▪ Esera Tuaolo, a former NFL defensive tackle who last played for the Carolina Panthers (1999), competed in the Playoff Round on Monday night.
Esera was on Blake Shelton’s team and competition was tough. Some of the judges thought Esera’s nerves got the best of him and that it wasn’t his best performance. He didn’t make the cut.
During his time in the NFL, Tuaolo, a Hawaii native of Samoan heritage, often sang The National Anthem before games and was known as Mr. Aloha. Shortly after his retirement, Esera became just the third former NFL player to come out as a gay man. He has been an outspoken advocate for LGBT rights, and the leader of an anti-bullying program called Hate is Wrong.
▪ Actress and singer (and kickboxing instructor) Katrina Rose – formerly of Durham – was eliminated last week during the Knockout Rounds.