Nervous singer faces her phobia on ‘The Voice’: ‘Most awkward, horrifying situation’

When we last left The Voice Season 22, at the end of Monday’s premiere, winsome country/pop singer Kate Kalvach was still deliberating between Blake Shelton, Gwen Stefani, or new coach Camila Cabello’s teams. Blake had a rough night, failing to recruit a single singer, while Camila was off to a strong start, even scoring some country artists and a couple of four-chair contestants. But at the top of Tuesday’s Blind Auditions episode, that cliffhanger was resolved: Kate joined Team Blake, and thus, Blake was back in the game.

With that out of the way, the Blind Auditions continued apace, and soon Blake had to battle his wife, Gwen, for another country artist, 25-year-old Sadie Bass. Sadie had suffered from stage fright since childhood, so no one other than her close family members ever even knew that she could sing or write songs. So, she decided to face her fears in the most extreme, jump-in-the-deep-end, rip-off-the-Band-Aid way imaginable: on national television, on one of America’s top-rated shows, in front of four of the biggest pop stars on the planet.

“Can I have another minute? I’m so sorry,” a trembling Sadie murmured to producers backstage, before eventually pulling herself together to sing Keith Urban’s “Stupid Boy.” Her nerves were noticeable, especially in the shaky first verse, but her natural talent was evident as well. And when the show’s country-crooning power couple finally turned for her, her confidence grew… although she nearly fled the stage the instant her performance ended, overwhelmed by the moment.

“Oh my gosh, I literally almost passed out,” Sadie gasped with relief. But she was smiling.

“I’ve had stage fright my whole life, 25 years — and today, I just overcame it with you guys,” Sadie confessed to Blake and Gwen.

“The stage fright thing can keep someone from opening up. And honestly, thrusting yourself into this most awkward, horrifying situation of a performance? That’s a helluva way to overcome your fear, right there. So, congratulations. You did it!” Blake said.

Blake clearly expressed empathy for Sadie, but heart-on-designer-sleeved Gwen spoke more softly and sweetly to Sadie’s predicament, telling her, “Sometimes you just need that person that can be a mirror to yourself and say, ‘Listen: You are amazing. You just need to let it loose right now.’ So, my coaching would be just building you up.”

And so, Blake’s luck took another turn for the worse. Sadie, despite the fact that she’d prayed that Blake would turn for her, decided to go “against the grain” and join Team Gwen. “I think I am the better coach for her,” Gwen asserted, to which Camila — a woman who’s grappled with stage fright herself, having never performed for a live audience before auditioning for The X Factor at age 15 — calmly uttered, “I agree.”

However, Blake did have better luck overall on Tuesday, recruiting a singer named Kevin Hawkins that would’ve been perfect for John Legend, and even scoring one “ace in the hole,” Brayden Lape, thanks to his supposed new nemesis, Camila. Hmmm. Was that some long-game strategy on Camila’s part, to practically hand over one of this season’s most promising newcomers right over to Team Blake? I suppose we’ll soon find out. In the meantime, these were Tuesday’s other successful auditions:

Reina Ley, 13: “Cielito Lindo”

Repping for her culture with a mariachi classic, this little girl with the huge voice instantly attracted the attention of fellow Latina artist Camila. “IN lion that you’re singing a mariachi song,” Camila exclaimed, after she and Reina conversed for a bit in Spanish. “I’m so proud of our culture, and all of that music is such a beautiful thing to tap into.” Camila then suggested that Reina take some chances with unexpected mariachi interpretations of say, Billie Eilish songs. That could have backfired for Camila, but Reina seemed intrigued by the idea.

Who turned? Camila and Gwen, who both jumped out of their red chairs and started dancing.

Result: Team Camila, of course. Gwen never had a chance.

Bryce Leatherwood, 22: “Goodbye Time”

With a name destined to end up on an Opry marquee (“Has there ever been a country-er name than Leatherwood?” asked Blake), farm boy Bryce seemed destined to end up on Blake’s team. He even crooned Blake’s famous version of a Conway Twitty standard — to which Blake, who was “blown away” by Bryce’s deep, Scotty McCreery-like voice, quipped, “You have excellent taste in music!” Gwen tried to play the country card, but it didn’t work this time. It rarely does.

Who turned? Blake, Gwen, and John.

Result: Team Blake, of course. Gwen and John never had a chance.

Alyssa Witrado, 19: “Don’t Speak”

Relating to No Doubt’s weepy breakup ballad due to her parents’ bitter divorce, this teen truly belted from the heart and the gut. Camila almost seemed more excited about the song choice than Gwen was, singing along to every word like a Stefani superfan, but her enthusiasm could only take her so far. “Camila, you have no shot,” John remarked, and Blake agreed, warning her, “You’re wasting your time here.” Camila gushingly praised Alyssa for making the song her own and not trying to mimic Gwen’s unique vocal style, but when Gwen told Alyssa, “You’re the perfect, ideal dreamgirl for me,” Camila must have realized that John and Blake were right.

Who turned? Gwen and Camila.

Result: Team Gwen, of course.

Devix: “Heat Waves”

An indie singer influenced by British buzz bands like Daughter and Foals, Devix warbled a lovely version of Glass Animals’ crossover hit and drew the coaches in with his powdery yet powerful vocals and sleepy, slow-burning delivery. He might be my favorite Season 22 contestant so far. Gwen loved his “character voice”; John thought he was “magic” as well as “distinctive and commercial”; and Camila said Devix would perfectly fill the open “indie slot” on her team. This one could have gone either way.

Who turned? John, Camila, and Gwen; Blake refrained because he didn’t think he was “cool enough” for Devix. Probably a wise decision.

Result: Team Camila. And thus, her indie slot was already filled by episode two.

Chello, 22: “Just the Two of Us”

A church singer with dreams of writing and producing behind the scenes, Chello seemed a logical fit for multi-hyphenate John. I instantly dug this vibey hipster nerd. Camila called him a “cool, cool cat” and appreciated that he didn’t immediately bring out all the riffs and runs and gimmicks, instead saving his few carefully curated tricks for the performance’s end. “I could really picture listening to your records in the car,” she purred.

Who turned? John and Camila.

Result: Team Camila, which was not surprising after her aggressive sales pitch: She was “willing to just get down on my knees and beg” for this guy!

Kevin Hawkins, 27: “Isn’t She Lovely”

Wow, this man was pure dynamite! A consummate entertainer, with style (that suite!), charisma, and a sparkling, cut-through voice, it’s no wonder that this middle-school piano teacher was a quadruple-chair-turner. “Your voice sounds like a record. It sounds like a Grammy performance,” Gwen raved to Kevin.

Who turned? All four coaches… but Gwen blocked John. “A piano teacher who sings Stevie Wonder, and I don’t have a chance to fight,” John sighed. “IN wish I could work with you, Kevin.” I doubt John will have a chance to steal Kevin in the Battles or Knockouts, either.

Result: Team Blake! Gwen’s gameplay surprisingly ended up helping her husband instead. “IN hate that Blake might have the winner,” Camila lamented.

Brayden Lape, 25: “This Town”

I didn’t expect such an angelic, breathy voice to emanate from this inexperienced small-town kid; he sounded so earnest, so pure, so pretty. I can only assume that this was some misleading editing, and that Brayden’s audition was shown out of order and had actually taken place after all of the other coaches’ teams were full. Why? Because it made zero sense that Blake was the only coach to turn. Additionally, Blake turned only after Camila — who’s already proven to be a cunning strategist — quite aggressively urged Blake to hit his button. Why didn’t Camila want Brayden for herself? Why did she want Blake to have him? The mind boggles.

Who turned? Just Blake.

Result: Team Blake. “I’m telling you, you’re going to thank me later,” Camila told her rival. “This guy’s your secret weapon.” I think the real secret is Camila is planning to steal Brayden from Blake during the Battle Rounds.

Peyton Aldridge, 25: “Can’t You See”

John was “captivated” by this soulful country crooner, telling him, “I felt all of that beautiful American music flowing through you.” At first John and Peyton didn’t seem like a match, but when Peyton expressed his love for John’s signature song “All of Me” and then the two dueted on that love ballad, it kind of made sense. Gwen’s attempt to get Peyton to sing “Hollaback Girl” was not as successful.

Who turned?: John, Gwen, and Blake… but Blake was blocked by John.

Result: Team Legend! Let’s face it, Peyton probably would have wound up with Blake otherwise, so John’s decision to use his one Block on this special singer paid off.

And thus, the episode ended with Blake’s good luck once again running out. But come back next Monday, for more Season 22 Blind Auditions.

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