And contestants joined in the celebration on the opening episode of Season 23.
Former Miss Mississippi Holly Brand showed up with a photo taken with Blake when she was just 10 years old.
She’d opened for him at a show. She said it was the night she decided she wanted to pursue a career as a singer.
Then Emily Rhyne from Ada, Okla., who performs at Blake’s Ol’ Red, showed up with gifts for the retiring coach.
One was a t-shirt signed by musicians from the Ada area. The other was a recording of Blake singing with her granddad at a local recording studio when he was just 13.
The irony is that Blake failed to turn for either artist.
But he still landed more singers than anyone else on opening night, luring Neil Salsich, Tasha Jessen and Alex Whalen to his team.
If there was a surprise, it’s that the sister trio Sorelle and Ross Clayton opted to go elsewhere even though Blake turned for them.
I mean, you have to know a Team Blake artist will more than likely win Season 23.
Here’s a recap with my picks for the best performances of the night.
Links will take you to a full profile of the singer. NOIVAS, Neil Salsich, Sorelle, Michael B. Williams and Ross Clayton have already released music and you’ll find details about that in those profiles.
Best of the Night
NOIVAS (Savion Wright), 30, Hutto, Texas, “A Change is Gonna Come,” by Sam Cooke: His emotional, soulful performance had all four chairs facing in his direction just a couple of lines in, and his performance kept getting more intense. Chance the Rapper blocked Blake Shelton, eliminating him from Noivas’s consideration. Chance called him an incomparable talent and a voice that deserves to be heard. Noivas joined Team Chance.
Tasha Jessen, 20, Colorado Springs, Col., “River” by Leon Bridges: Showing off a lovely tone from the first note, Tasha enticed chair turns from Blake Shelton and Niall Horan midway through the song. The song picked up in intensity, helping Tasha entice a chair turn from Chance the Rapper too. Blake called her voice “beautiful,” “unique” and “hard to define.” Tasha opted to join Team Blake.
Also made the show
Neil Salsich, 34, St. Louis, Miss., “Honky Tonk Blues” by Hank Williams: He prompted quick chair turns from Blake Shelton and Kelly Clarkson. But Kelly was immediately out of the running because she was blocked by Blake. Niall Horan and Chance the Rapper turned as well. Blake complimented Neil on an incredible performance. Neil, who fronts a band called The Mighty Pines and has already released music, opted to join Team Blake.
Sorelle (Madi, Ana and Bella Heichel), Lexington, Ohio, “Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy by Queen: The three sisters and their harmonies prompted chair turns from Blake Shelton and Chance the Rapper. Chance liked the show-tune, theatrical sound of their performance. Then he had them show off their three-part harmonies. Sorelle decided to join Team Chance.
Holly Brand, 22, Meridian, Mississippi, “Mississippi Girl” by Faith Hill: Kelly Clarkson turned in a heartbeat. She was later joined by Niall Horan and Chance the Rapper. Kelly said Holly, a former Miss Mississippi, sounded like a mix of Faith Hill and Carrie Underwood. Holly joined Team Kelly.
Alex Whalen, 43, Indians Rocks Beach, Fla., “Help Me Make It Through the Night” by Sammi Smith: Alex served up a soulful country version of the song and got chair turns from Blake Shelton and Chance the Rapper. Kelly complimented him on a gorgeous voice. Blake said he’s never had an opportunity to work with a country singer from London. He’ll have a chance to now. Alex joined Team Blake.
D Smooth, 25, Birmingham, Ala., “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran: At the urging of Chance the Rapper, Kelly Clarkson turned early in the performance. Niall Horan joined her at the last minute. Kelly said she loved the spin D Smooth put on the song. Niall liked the way he kept taking the song to new heights. D Smooth opted to join Team Kelly.
Michael B. (Williams), 29, Los Angeles, Calif., “Save Your Tears” by The Weeknd: Michael’s impressive range prompted a quick chair turn from Niall Horan. He wound up being the only coach to turn, so Michael automatically became Team Niall. Niall liked the complete control Michael showed over his voice and performance.
Ross Clayton, 33, McCloud, OK, “Blue Ain’t Your Color” by Keith Urban: Blake Shelton turned quickly. But a glory note in the middle of the performance got chair turns from Kelly Clarkson, Chance the Rapper and Niall Horan as well. Niall called his voice “incredible” and loved the soul in his tone. Ross joined Team Niall.