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The Journal Gazette

  • NBC Alicia Keys, left, claps as Adam Levine and Kelly Clarkson celebrate Blake Shelton being blocked from offering a singer a spot his team.

Thursday, March 01, 2018 1:00 am

Shelton has target on back as 'Voice' returns

Emily Yahr | The Washington Post


Snider grad seeks'Voice' success

City resident Christiana Danielle Hicks got a Blind Audition for this season of “The Voice,” she says on social media.

Hicks is a student at Huntington University, where Hicks is a student, had a viewing party on Monday. The local singer's audition did not air this week, and she says on Facebook that she does not have a date for when she will appear. The pre-taped Blind Auditions air on the NBC series for several weeks while the season's four coaches offer spots on their teams to some singers, who then must pick which coach they want to work with.

If Hicks advances past the auditions, there are several more pre-taped competition rounds before the live shows begin. In the live shows, viewers vote for who they want to continue on the series. 

Last season, local teenager Addison Agen placed second on “The Voice.” Barry Minniefield, a soul singer who was also a Fort Wayne native, appeared in 2015.

– The Journal Gazette

At one point during “The Voice” Season 14 premiere on Monday night, Adam Levine was so excited that he dropped to the ground and pretended to make snow angels. Alicia Keys was similarly ecstatic. So was Kelly Clarkson.

The reason? Thanks to a new twist where the celebrity coaches can block each other from competing for certain singers during the blind auditions, Blake Shelton was barred from trying to persuade a powerhouse country singer to join his team.

“I won't even be mad if you don't go with me,” Levine told contestant Justin Kilgore. “Because one thing I know for sure that you can't do is go with Blake.”

Kilgore chose Clarkson, as did Molly Stevens, another talented country singer during the second half of the premiere Tuesday. “People believe if you're country on this show, that (only) Blake can help you, but that is not true,” Clarkson said. The other coaches also tried to persuade Stevens to go with Clarkson, and basked in Shelton's disappointment. Clearly they play up this “drama” for the show – although as Shelton took his losses in stride and joked about it on Twitter, there might have been some genuine frustration on his part.

So why was everyone determined to gang up on Shelton?

As viewers know, Shelton has won the show six times, and four of those wins were with country singers. Shelton, one of the biggest stars in modern country music, is quite a draw for aspiring Nashville artists.

But it's irritating to his fellow coaches, who frequently vent they never have a shot with great country singers, who eagerly choose Shelton during the blind audition process.

It's also annoying for the other coaches who want to bring their team members to victory, because country singers have an excellent chance of making it far on the show. Ever since “American Idol,” country music fans have enthusiastically voted on reality singing competitions. “The Voice” is often criticized for not being able to produce stars, but the country acts who have won – Cassadee Pope, Danielle Bradbery, Craig Wayne Boyd, Sundance Head – typically fare better than winners from other genres.

At a recent country radio conference in Nashville, when asked why country contestants do so well on “The Voice,” the Swon Brothers (who landed in third place in Season 4) responded simply “Blake Shelton.”

“We got his phone number, we have stayed at his house, we have hunted at his house. There's a personal connection, he goes above and beyond,” Colton Swon said. “He's been like a big brother.”

“And he had our back when things got a little tricky,” added his brother, Zach.

The Swon Brothers got a record deal after “The Voice,” though were later dropped, and are now releasing music independently.