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article image'The Voice' Season 8, Week 1: Let the singing begin... Special

By Earl Dittman     Feb 28, 2015 in Entertainment
Sixteen lucky vocalists helped to kick off the 8th season of the hit singing competition show with a bang. The gifted singers, who impressed Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Pharrell Williams and Christina Aguilera, talk about their debut on 'The Voice.'
The Voice has returned with the strongest vocalists from across the country invited to compete in the blockbuster vocal competition show’s eighth season. Christina Auguilera has come back home to The Voice, joining returning mega-stars Adam Levine, Pharrell Williams and Blake Shelton as celebrity musician coaches, while Carson Daly continues to serve as host.
The show’s innovative format features five stages of competition: the first begins with the Blind Auditions, then the Battle Rounds, the Knockouts, the Live Playoff’s and finally, the Live Performance Shows. The first two nights (February 23 and 24) of Season Eight's Blind Auditions introduced the world to some the most incredible singers to ever grace The Voice stage. During the Blind Auditions, Adam, Christina, Pharrell and Blake's decisions were based solely on voice and not on looks. The coaches could hear the artists perform, but they don’t get to see them — thanks to rotating chairs. If a coach was impressed by the artist’s voice, he/she pushed a button to select the artist for his/her team. At this point, the coach’s chair swiveled around so that he/she can face the artist he/she has selected. If more than one coach pushed his/her button, the power then shifted to the artists, who chose which coach they wanted to work with.
Adam  Blake  Christina and Pharrell head to their chairs for the Blind Auditions on  The Voice
Adam, Blake, Christina and Pharrell head to their chairs for the Blind Auditions on 'The Voice'
We caught up with most of the sixteen talented advancing artists — from Week One of Blind Auditions for Season Eight of The Voice — and asked them to recall some of their initial impressions and experiences while performing on NBC's highly-rated, star-making show.
Joshua Davis (Team Blake) explains why The Voice is different from other competition reality shows: "I have a real distaste for reality television in general. But, this show is a lot different from a lot of the other reality TV out there. They don't focus on embarrassing people. They're not there to knock anybody down. The culture in the show is about building people up. It's about creating inspiring moments. It's about growing as an artist and those are the stories that they show. Not the stories where somebody comes on the show and totally embarrasses themselves and the judges, and they get kicked out. That's not what it's all about."
Rob Taylor performs on  The Voice
Rob Taylor performs on 'The Voice'
Rob Taylor (Team Christina) reveals his musical background: "My musical background is mostly church. My grandparents were pastors so I grew up in church. They made me sing in church all the time. As far as like other music, I used to have to sneak and listen to, like, records or any type of any other genre other than gospel. So, I would sneak and listen to rock music or R&B or soul music because it wasn't allowed. And, as far as performing, I don't really do much performing other than in church, things like that. It's like small things around the community."
Tonya Boyd-Cannon sings  Happy  on  The Voice
Tonya Boyd-Cannon sings "Happy" on 'The Voice"
Tonya Boyd-Cannon (Team Adam) on the real Adam Levine:"Adam is truly an all-around great guy. And, I'm not just saying that just watching him and listening to him, his conversations, his teachings. What you get on TV is what you get in person. He continues to show his humility. He allows his light to be seen everywhere he goes. He's very all around talented. So, he reminds me of myself and it also teaches me just to stay grounded with who I am because you never know whose lives you're going to touch. He has touched my life, from the beginning of his career all the way up until now. He's my guy. That's my brother."
Lowell Oakley sings  Don t Get Around Much Anymore
Lowell Oakley sings "Don't Get Around Much Anymore"
Lowell Oakley (Team Pharrell) talks about the authenticity of The Voice and what he's already learned from his coach: "One of the biggest things that I'd like to get across to people is just how genuine the show is and the integrity that the show adheres to. Even from working with my coach, Pharrell this short amount of time, you can feel that it's real. Like, it's not an act. None of the coaches are trying to sound a certain way just for television. It's real. And, I've already learned a ton about myself, just talking to Pharrell, casually. I've been able to connect with him on a deeper level, on a spiritual level that transcends even the music that we're doing."
Deanna Johnson (Team Adam) on why she went with Mr. Levine: "I actually went into it thinking, 'Whoever turns, I'm going to go with them.' I was not expecting four chairs. I was thinking Blake, because he was so nice to me the first time around, when I did Season Five. But, I went with Adam because he was really honest and he told me you know what there is some things you need to work on. He was like, 'If you make me your coach then I'll really help you improve on that thing.' My dad is kind of that way with me. If I'm sucking it up he's going to let me know. And, it really helps me improve. That's what I wanted in a coach, someone who's not afraid to be like, 'Okay that didn't sound quite right.' So, that's why I picked Adam."
Sarah Potenza hits  The Voice  stage
Sarah Potenza hits 'The Voice' stage
Sarah Potenza (Team Blake) reveals why, after a four-chair turn, she went with Me. Shelton: "I chose Blake as a coach, because I really connected with Blake when I saw some of the interviews that he had done. His sense of humor is very, very similar to mine and just the way he doesn't really take himself too seriously. And, I love country music because I love the stories. The lyrics are just the best. They have the best stories. When you take somebody with a blues or a rock and roll voice and you tell those stories, it's really powerful. Blues and rock and roll are all about feel and country is all about stories and lyrics. So, if you take that feel and you apply it to those stories and those lyrics it's so much more powerful than just your average blues song or your average rock song. I thought that Blake would pick good songs for me."
Gabriel Wolfchild sings his version of  Don t Think Twice  It s All Right  on  The Voice
Gabriel Wolfchild sings his version of "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" on 'The Voice'
Gabriel Wolfchild (Team Christina) reveals how has already grown as an artist, thanks to The Voice: "The show has required me to sing music that I probably wouldn't normally sing. It forced and helped me find weaknesses that I had. It really helped me approach music in a completely different way, and it made me a stronger musician all around for sure. It was an incredible experience working with these coaches and I've totally transformed. It's been great."
Megan Linsey on  The Voice
Megan Linsey on 'The Voice'
Meghan Linsey (Team Pharrell) explains how her coach have given her a moral boast to try music again: "Pharrell has really helped me work on rebuilding my confidence, because I've been in the business for a while. I had record deal and I lost it and I've made some attempts to come back and making music. The business is hard and it's not always kind. I think working with Pharrell and having him instill confidence in me, believe in me and really reaffirm that I'm where I'm supposed to be and doing what I'm supposed to be doing has been really helpful for me."
Cody Wickline (Team Blake) on what being a part of The Voice experience means to him: "I was kind of raised up in the mindset that if you wanted anything in life you had to work hard to get it. Getting a chance to be on The Voice really makes you feel like you can do anything that you want to do, as long as you keep your faith, keep your work ethic and keep working hard towards your goal. It hasn't been easy. I've never had anything handed to me in life and I'm proud of that. I'm proud to be a small town country boy from West Virginia, and to be able to represent my state and the great people that live here. It's really something special."
Treeva Gibson impresses the coaches on  The Voice
Treeva Gibson impresses the coaches on 'The Voice"
Treeva Gibson (Team Christina) recalls her journey to appearing on The Voice: "I always have a bunch of people telling me all the time, 'You should go try out for this and that." I tried out for X-Factor like, a year or two ago, but I did not make it past the open call stuff. I never got a call back or anything. I was going to try out again but then X-Factor got cancelled in the U.S. The only reason I had been so afraid of The Voice is because I didn't think I was good enough. Also, I was kind of just going with my whole story because on the other shows you can walk straight up there and say, 'Hi I'm Treeva Gibson and my parents are deaf.' But, I wouldn't be able to say that to the coaches on The Voice. The open call was only an hour away for me so I figured, 'You know, why not?' Went up there, ended up making it through and stuff. And, it was really a validating experience to know that I actually do have talent and it's not just my story that's peculiar and something that might attract people to me, that I do actually have some skill and talent."
Sawyer Fredericks sings  I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow
Sawyer Fredericks sings "I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow"
Sawyer Fredericks (Team Pharrell) says he's already a little stoked by the overwhelming response he's received: "Ever since my audition aired on The Voice, I have noticed this amazing amount of support for me. It's so cool. Things have changed much for me, because I live on a farm and I'm home-schooled, so I don't go to school so I don't get out much. I'm not talking to anybody in person, so al the praise and support has been like on Facebook. I'm getting a lot of good responses and comments and all that but life hasn't changed on the farm."
Mia Z (Team Pharrell) on her song choice for her first audition: "I chose 'The Thrill is Gone' because it's that old soul, blues artist kind of sound. 'The Thrill is Gone' is just about, like for me, it was about a guy that kind of just broke my heart at being so young or whatever. So, I kind of put it into that perspective to sing it, but it's also just that like old like gritty, let's get down to the blues. And, B.B. King, as the artist who wrote, is just phenomenal. It was definitely right in my genre, right in my soul, right all through my blood. I was just so excited to pick that song and sing it."
Brooke Adee on  The Voice
Brooke Adee on 'The Voice'
Brooke Adee (Team Blake ) explains why she thinks Blake is like Olaf from Frozen: "Honestly, with Blake, I think that he is so incredibly charismatic of a person. I think that he cares so much about his fans and his family. He's very family-orientated. I don't know if that comes or translates as much on the show as it does when you actually know him. He reminds me of Olaf. Like, if you've seen the movie Frozen, Olaf it's like he gives the warm hugs. I could hug Blake all day, every day. He gives the warmest hugs and he's like a father figure to me."
Joe Tollo joins #TeamChristina
Joe Tollo joins #TeamChristina
Joe Tolo (Team Christina) explains why he's glad he picked the coach he did: "Christina, as on top of her career as she is, is so down-to-earth. She's so humble. She's willing to work with us and be able to help us be a better singer, to be a better artist and a better person. She's amazing to work with. I was a little intimidated at first, when I first met her, but she really opens up and she makes you feel comfortable. She always gives great advice and great feedback."
Blaze Johnson (Team Adam) offers the best advice for other aspiring singers wanting to audition for The Voice: "The biggest thing, is someone that would want to, you know, come onto the show and potentially audition is to really, really be who you are. Because, at the end of the day, even though you might not be the best vocalist in the world or not the best singer in the world, if you stay true to who you are and believe that light that's in you will shine then that draws people in. I would say the best advice is to really be who you are and do it well."
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