The Voice

Marina Chello, Kiara Brown and James Violet rescued on The Voice


Kiara Brown was stolen, Marina Chello was saved and James Violet was rescued from elimination at the battles continued on The Voice Monday night.

We just don’t know whether James will opt to be saved by Gwen Stefani or stolen by John Legend. And won’t until Tuesday’s battle round episode begin.

But we were also reminded that The Voice is introducing us to some very unique vocalists in Season 17. Like Kyndal Inskeep. Like Royce Lovett. And like Jake Hoot.

Here’s a recap of Monday’s show. Remarkably, I can’t quibble about any of the decisions made by the show’s coaches.


Team Gwen

The match: James Violet vs. Kyndal Inskeep
The background: James Violet, 20, of Syracuse, Utah, turned two chairs with “Sweet Creature” by Harry Styles. Kyndal Inskeep, 22, of Nashville, Tenn., turned three chairs with “Never Been to Spain” by Three Dog Night.
The song: “I Could Use a Love Song” by Maren Morris
The feedback: Kelly said their voices sounded wonderful together and gave a slight edge to James. Blake appreciated the subtle changes Kyndal made to the song. John said he would give Kyndal a narrow edge too.
The outcome: Gwen awarded the win to Kyndal, praising the character in her voice, something she said you can’t teach. Gwen pushed her save button for James. John pushed his steal button. And we won’t find out which team James selected until tomorrow night.
My take: Damn, didn’t they sound good together? Gotta say, at the open I thought Kyndal had this easily. Her voice is just so unique. By the end, I still would have given her the win, but James also won me over with a splendid performance made all the more impressive because he wasn’t familiar with the song. This turned out to be one of my favorite performances of the night.


Team Blake

The match: Marina Chello vs. Ricky Duran
The background: Marina Chello, 37, Plainview, N.Y., turned two chairs with Pink’s “Walk Me Home.” Ricky Duran, 29, Worcester, Mass., turned four chairs with “River” by Leon Bridges.
The song: “Valerie” by Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse
The feedback: John Legend called the performance “fantastic,” but said he’d give the win to Ricky because of something special in his tone. Gwen agreed that Ricky has star power. Kelly hinted at a steal. Blake said both singers are “way overdue” for a break in music.
The outcome: Blake awarded the win to Ricky. But no more had he left the stage than Blake pushed his save button for Marina. And then Kelly pushed her steal button for her. Marina opted to remain Team Blake.
My take: Marina showed off a very intriguing soulful ache in her voice, perfect for this song. And they came together for a great ending. Ricky delivered the most consistent vocal, and I can see him becoming a fan favorite with those gruff vocals.


Team Gwen

The match: Royce Lovett vs. Kiara Brown
The background: Royce Lovett, 30, of Tallahassee, Fla., turned two chairs with Wyclef Jean’s “911.” Kiara Brown, 21, Las Vegas, Nev., turned two chairs with Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’.”
The song: “Turn Your Lights Down Low” by Bob Marley and Lauryn Hill
The feedback: Kelly and John both said they were especially impressed with Kiara. Blake said he would have awarded the battle to Royce. Gwen applauded both artists on the progress they made since the rehearsals.
The outcome:
Gwen named Royce the winner of the battle because of the personality, character and dynamics of his voice. But Kiara was going no where because Gwen pushed her save button and Kelly pushed her steal button. Kiara decided to join Team Kelly.
My take: Wow, I absolutely loved the tone of Royce’s voice with that bit of reggae in his vocals. Kiara might have actually executed a few more vocal gymnastics — and did so impressively. But it was Royce’s performance that struck me as the more unique of the two. Both also showed excellent stage presence. Given the strength of that duet — and they sounded great together, didn’t they? — I was happy to see both advance.


Team Blake

The match: Joana Martinez vs. Matthew McQueen
The background: Joana Martinez, 15, of Miami, Fla., turned three chairs with “Call Out My Name” by The Weeknd. Matthew McQueen, 21, of Georgetown, Texas, turned two chairs with “Someone You Love” by Lewis Capaldi.
The song: “High Hopes” by Panic at the Disco
The feedback: John praised the energy and chemistry they showed in their performance, but gave a slight edge to Joana, who he said “has a lot more poise” than she should at age 15. Gwen also gave a slim edge to Joana; Kelly preferred Matthew and called his vocal “captivating.” Blake praised them both for their handling of the up-tempo tune, saying “I can’t even think that fast.”
The outcome: Blake declared Joana the winner. Matthew was eliminated, though we heard Kelly says she would have stolen him if she had a steal left.
My take: Who would have thought one of the most entertaining performances of the night would come from two Team Blake artists singing Panic at the Disco? Blake made the right choice. For her age, Joana showed impressive control, power and stage presence. Her bilingual singing ability also has to be intriguing.

Team Kelly

The match: Jake Hoot vs. Steve Knill
The background: Jake Hoot, 30, of Cookeville, Tenn, turned a chair with “When It Rains It Pours” by Luke Combs. Steve Knill, 37, of San Francisco, Calif., turned one chair with “Up To the Mountain” by Patty Griffin.
The song: “Always on My Mind” by Willie Nelson
The feedback: John and Blake gave the edge to Jake. While he complimented Steve’s performance, John said the performance sounded like the song was written for Jake to perform. Kelly said they both executed the song perfectly.
The outcome: Kelly declared Jake the winner; Steve was eliminated.
My take: Steve started splendidly and delivered a perfectly fine vocal. He showed off nice range too. Jake didn’t do that, but he displayed solid and powerful country vocals on a show where fans love their country singers. Strategically, Kelly made the right move.

Team Legend

The match: Jared Herzog vs. Will Breman
The background: Jared Herzog, 21, of Niceville, Fla., turned three chairs, performing “Speechless” by Dan and Shay. Will Breman, 25, of Santa Barbara, Calif., turned two chairs with “Say You’ll Be There” by the Spice Girls.
The song: “Treat You Better” by Shawn Mendes
The feedback: Both singers received praise for their vocal performance. John complimented both for doing everything he asked vocally. Blake and Gwen pointed to Will’s on-stage performance style as the reason they’d give him the edge.
The outcome: John named Will the winner. No one stole Jared, so he was eliminated.
My take: Will won the battle with his vocal as well as his on-stage antics, which at times seemed just a bit over the top, especially in a duet where he was supposed to be sharing the spotlight.


Team Kelly

The match: Gracee Shriver vs. Brennan Lassiter
The background: Brennan Lassiter, 20, of Dacusville, S.C., turned four chairs with “You Are My Sunshine.” Gracee Shriver, 16, of Owasso, Okla, turned the only two available chairs with “Rainbow” by Kacey Musgraves.
The song: “Blue Ain’t Your Color” by Keith Urban
The outcome: Kelly declared Gracee the winner. Brennan, a four-chair turn, was eliminated. Of course, Gracee turned the only two chairs she cold in the blinds.
My take: Who knows? The Voice montaged the performance.

Team Kelly

The match: Brooke Stephenson vs. Damali
The background: Damali, 16, of Norwalk, Calif., earned a spot on Team Kelly singing “Ocean Eyes” by Billie Eilish. Brooke Stephenson, 28, of Bolton, Connecticut, performed “Let Him Fly,” by The Dixie Chicks / Patty Griffin and turned three chairs to Damali’s one.
The song: “Set Fire to the Rain” by Adele
The outcome: Kelly declared Damali the winner, saying she’s intrigued by her.
My take: Who knows? The Voice montaged the performance.

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