His audition: RJ Collins, 18, of Chicago, auditioned with “Purpose” by Justin Bieber. A really nice opening prompted an immediate chair turn from Adam Levine. A glory note near the end of the performance got a chair turn from Alicia, who said she liked the way RJ’s soul came through in his performance. RJ decided to join Team Alicia.
His background: After high school, he got a job at a guitar center. He calls it perfect because, during breaks, he can try out instruments in the piano room, the drum room and, of course, the guitars. He says he grew up in a family of self-taught musicians. He was nervous and didn’t want to sing around people when he was young, but his older brother Randy encouraged him to give it a try. Unfortunately, his brother was killed by police in 2009. That, RJ said, gave him the “motivation to get music started … He gave me purpose to pursue everything I could because life is short.” At 15, he recalls performing live and getting a great reaction. He’s been gigging anywhere he can ever since.
What the show didn’t show:
* In a Social News XYZ interview, RJ says his mom introduced him to music around age 5 and he would try to imitate what he heard. He recalls that, instead of toys most kids wanted, he asked for musical instruments as birthday and Christmas gifts.
* According to his bio on The Voice website, RJ played various instruments as a youth and started writing songs around age 9, thought he shied away from performing in public at first. the first instruments he learned were piano and guitar.
* RJ was 11 when his brother Randy was shot by an officer with the Riverdale Police Department. The Voice irresponsibly failed to tell the rest of the story. Officers responded to a report of a man with an assault weapon in December 2009. Randy, 22, was the man with the weapon and refused to drop it, police said, according to a report in the Chicago Tribune.
* When younger, RJ performed as RJ Kool.
* His mom always encouraged him to audition for The Voice, but he wasn’t sold on the idea at first because he felt the show might be scripted. He auditioned for Season 11 but says he didn’t make it because he was so nervous. Convinced the show was a good idea, he returned for Season 12.
* RJ is a graduate of Shepherd High School and returned to the school the week before his audition aired to sing the national anthem, kicking off the school’s WinterFest assembly.
Keeping up with RJ:
“It’s You” (cover)
“Smoke Break” (cover)