‘The Voice’: Christina AguileraSings Impromptu Duet;Contestants Show Their Blues


Memphis-based guitarist and
singer Preston Shannon made
good case for the blues on the
final blind edition episode of
“The Voice” Monday (Feb. 27).
While the 64-year-old blues
veteran with five solo albums
under his belt did not get any
judges to turn their chairs
around, he got more primetime
exposure than at any moment in
his career.
Shannon knocked around various
Memphis bands until he landed in
Shirley Brown’s group before he
wound up leading his own
outfit; in 1996, his Rounder
Records release “Midnight in
Memphis” put him on the blues
map. While his performance did
not win him a spot on any of the
four coaches’ teams, it may well
have helped earn him a few fans
who bothered to Google him
after the show ended. He
certainly received some well-
earned praise from the judging
panel.
Not coincidentally, the final
round in which each of the
judges — Christina Aguilera **,
Adam Levine **, CEE LO GREEN
and Blake Shelton ** — sets their
teams of 12, the final additions
relied on traditional vocal forms
such as the blues to make the
cut. Whitney Myer, who leads a
funk band out of Reno that
includes her father and uncle,
gave a bluesy, Dave Matthews
**-inspired spin on Alicia Key
**’s “No One” that got all four
judges to hit their red buttons.
She went with Levine, who
compared her to Mary J. Blige.
Likewise, Orlando Napier has a
family blues band and hopes to
bring his saxophonist father
onto the show. His soulful
version of John Mayer **’s
“Waiting for the World to
Change” also landed him on
Levine’s team last night.
Sera Hill, a front desk clerk at a
hotel, drew out the blues roots
of Mary J. Blige **’s “I’m Goin’
Down” and even got her new
judge, Aguilera, to join her for a
bit of give and take on the
chorus. In that short burst of
vocal activity Aguilera
demonstrated her ability to oust
any competitor on “The Voice,”
but it also displayed her
willingness to approach her
charges as peers. The potential
for tight intermingling gives
“The Voice” a leg up on its
competition.
Otherwise, the final edition of
the auditions felt predictable —
the contestants who appeared
full of themselves or in need of a
change to escape the riches of
the family business were sent
packing. The Oklahoma sorority
gal, Adley Stomp, who has been
singing country music for less
than a year, wound up on
Shelton’s team. Meanwhile, a
mediocre performance of
Beyonce’s “If I Were a Boy”
wound up scoring deep-voiced
contestant Cheesa a last-minute
spot on Cee Lo’s team of a dozen
contestants.
Proof that the conceit of blind
auditions works came when the
two portly Shields brothers from
rural Virginia belted out Gen X’s
“Dancing With Myself” and won
the a red button push from
Green. If he had seen them, it
would have likely been a no, but
the promise of a duo belting out
honest rock’n’roll was too good
of a dream to pass up. Perhaps
Aguilera felt the same when she
gave a nod to Lee Koch, a baker
out of Temecula, Calf., who
delivered an off-balance
rendition of “Like a Rolling
Stone.” She said she liked his
harmonica solo, but when you
see whiny singing a Bob Dylan **
song, you know you’re in
trouble; odds are he is among
the first to go in the next round.
Now, if Preston Shannon is
playing some Dylan, that would
be interesting to hear.

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