Two North Carolina natives made great first impressions on Monday night’s Season 14 premiere of “The Voice,” and will move forward in the competition.
The first performer of the night was 18-year-old Britton Buchanan of Sanford.
Britton, a senior at Lee County High School, performed “Trouble” by Ray Lamontagne and coaches Blake Shelton, Alicia Keys and Adam Levine all turned their chairs for him at the same time. But in a twist, Blake hit his button for Britton and simultaneously “blocked” Adam. The “block” is a new element added to the show this season. Each coach gets one block per season.
Adam, seriously bummed about being blocked, accused Blake of blocking him and Blake denied it. “You’re a great singer, but Academy Award winner you are not,” Adam told him.
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Britton (17 at the time of the audition) told Adam that he loved his version of “I Love L.A.” with Randy Newman. “I watched that video like 80 times every week and it’s freakin’ awesome,” Britton told Adam.
Adam then worked to convince Britton to pick Alicia Keys as his coach instead of Blake.
“You are so intense,” Blake told Britton. “It’s almost like you’re angry at the song, playing that guitar with so much strength. When I heard you singing with a little bit of gravelly, raspy tone to it, and a little bit of country – little bit! ”
“You made my mom happy right there,” Britton said. Britton’s mom, watching with this family from backstage, cheered.
“I did block Adam,” Blake admitted. “The reason I blocked Adam is because I want you on my damn team! That’s the truth, man.”
Kelly Clarkson, a new coach this season, spoke up for Blake. Sort of. “He gets one block, I’m just sayin’, and he chose you,” she said. “So if you pick Alicia, that’s gonna be so funny!”
Britton told Blake that he loves his song “Austin” and then he picked his coach ... Alicia Keys! That was a little bit of a shocker. Little bit!
Rayshun LaMarr from Chapel Hill
Rayshun LaMarr, 33, lives in the Washington D.C. area but was born and raised in Chapel Hill.
A short profile of Rayshun, who attended the Duke Ellington School for the Performing Arts, aired before his audition, detailing a battle with cancer that nearly claimed his life.
Rayshun gave an incredible performance of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” and attracted the attention of Adam and Alicia. Adam told Rayshun that often they turn for a singer and say “I can’t believe that’s a white dude.” Adam added, “This might be the first time in the history of the show that I’m like, ‘That’s a black dude, I can’t believe it.’”
“You were singing with so much joy,” Alicia told him.
“The sheer bliss you sing with is really infectious,” Adam said.
A very emotional Rayshun told the coaches that the experience meant a lot to him.
“Five years ago, I almost died, man. I had cancer. In ICU, I used to play that song and it used to give me so much hope and energy.”
“You chose the song that helped you through what you went through,” Adam told him. “That’s what makes you special. You say ‘don’t stop believin’?’ I’m gonna start believing right now that I’m your coach.”
Adam said that as Rayshun’s coach, he would be critical when it’s necessary, adding that there were certain things in his performance that could have been a little bit better.
“That’s what I’m about,” Adam said. “Helping somebody really tap into that next thing that’s gonna make them even better.”
Alicia made a strong argument for Rayshun, too, even going up on stage to hug him.
But Adam was more persuasive, so Rayhun picked him.
Molly Stevens of Raleigh
We get more Blind Auditions Tuesday (8 p.m., NBC) and that’s likely when we’ll see Molly Stevens, a 35-year-old country singer who lives in Raleigh.
Molly is originally from Macon, Ga., but came to Raleigh three years ago from Nashville to join her fiance, who owns the Chick-fil-A franchise at Cameron Village. When she’s not touring, she’s a substitute teacher at Millbrook High School.
The next episode of “The Voice” airs at 8 p.m. Tuesday on NBC. There are more Blind Auditions next week: Monday (March 5) at 8 p.m. and Tuesday (March 6) at 9 p.m.