The Voice Blind Auditions: Kelly Clarkson Fights for a Country Artist

Kelly Clarkson was itching to gain a country singer on her team.

Written by Tammy Ragusa
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THE VOICE -- “Blind Auditions” Episode 1502 -- Pictured: Kelly Clarkson -- (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC)

It was the third night of blind auditions for NBC’s The Voice, and the teams for coaches Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson, Adam Levine, and Blake Shelton are starting to take shape. But coach Kelly, who always goes after what she wants, was still in need of one key piece. The Texas-born multi-genre vocalist was itching for a country singer for Team KC.

Tonight was her night. But it wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t early.

The night did kick off with a fellow Texan-turned-Tennessean, though. Nashville resident Dave Fenley had a separate agenda besides landing a coveted spot on the award-winning reality series. He had to secure a “neck hug” from Blake for his mom who waited backstage. The 39-year-old singer’s cover of Travis Tritt’s “Help Me Hold On” had both Kelly and Blake singing along and, ultimately, turning their chairs. Although Kelly tried to play the Lone Star state connection, when Dave revealed his Mom’s request, Blake set the ultimatum. “I give really good neck hugs to my contestants’ mothers,” he said.

Keep an eye on Dave in future episodes. He has mad beat-boxing skills.

The next contestant, Boston-based Steve Memmelo, dialed in a soulful version of Atlanta Rhythm Section’s “Spooky.” In fact it was so full of soul, groove and fine grit that when Kelly finally saw the Ben Affleck doppelganger, she declared, “Oh my gosh, you’re white! I didn’t see that coming.” Both Adam and Jennifer had turned during Steve’s performance, but it was Adam that secured the handsome vocalist for his team.

Coach J-Hud seemed to be a little anxious when 19-year-old Audri Bartholomew began her performance. The St. Louis resident chose the rangy “Never Enough” from the hit musical film The Greatest Showman, originally recorded by Loren Allred. There was little cause for concern, though. Audri’s vocal was pristine and effortless and Jennifer was hooked. Coach Kelly turned, too, but admitted, “Whenever Jennifer turns her chair, I’m threatened because she’s crazy good.”

But where was Kelly’s country singer? It could have been 19-year-old Rachel Messer. The petite blonde who explained that she was from a holler outside of Fort Gay, West Virginia, was a bona fide country singer, tackling Patsy Montana’s “I Want to Be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart.” She dazzled the coaches with her effortless yodeling. Of course, Kelly turned with the hopes of securing her bulls-eye, unfortunately, Blake turned his chair as well. And even before Rachel made her choice the defeat was written all over Kelly’s face. Even Adam noticed. “I just watched in real time. Blake shattered Kelly’s dreams,” he joked.

But the lanky Oklahoman had great intentions. “There’s still a hunger and still an excitement for traditional country music out there,” he said. “You’re the kind of artist that excites me because you honor the history of country music before you take a step forward with it. I would be honored to have the chance to work with you.”

And another for Team Blake.

This wasn’t Kelly’s last chance for a country singer, though. Farmington, New Mexico’s Chevel Shepherd had a pure and tender vibrato, reminiscent of Dolly Parton, and perfectly matched to her rendition of The Band Perry’s “If I Die Young.” With three chairs turning, including Blake’s, Kelly faced probable defeat. Again.

Even though Chevel giggled delightfully when Blake simply said, “Hi Chevel,” earning a grown of heartbreak from Kelly, and even though she revealed that she shared the same birthday as Blake, when push came to shove it was Kelly who earned her allegiance.

It was a good night for Kelly, who added 21-year-old Delaney Silvernell to her team after her performance of Shawn Mendes’ “In My Blood.” But it wasn’t without dissension among the coaches when 26-year-old Kymberli Joye of Windsor, Connecticut wailed on Whitney Houston’s “Run to You.” In an unexpected twist, after turning her chair Kelly blocked her best buddy Jennifer, who just seconds later. “I thought we was friends, why would you do this?” Jennifer cried. “Because I don’t want to fight with you on this one,” Kelly replied, neither acknowledging that Blake, too, had turned for Kymberli.

Not this time, Blake. It was a win for Team Kelly.

Jennifer added a second team member with gutsy 29-year-old Nashville-based vocalist Natasia Greycloud, even though both she and Kelly turned for the “I’m Not the Only One” singer. Adam also scored a big win with Anthony Arya from Santa Cruz, California who sang Kenny Loggins’ “Danny’s Song.” “Your whole situation, the way you engage with an audience, the way you sing, you are so special,” Adam said. Even more special is that Anthony is just 15-years-old.

The Comeback Stage coach Kelsea Ballerini, also added to her team. Monterey, California’s Lynnea Moorer already has a great following in her over 200,000 YouTube subscribers. Now, with a little help from Kelsea, she gets a second chance at victory on The Voice.

If you’re keeping score, Kelly, Jennifer, and Blake each have six contestants on their respective teams so far. Adam has five and Kelsea has three. Each of the coaches has another chance to grow their team and claim the potential season 15 winner when The Voice continues on Oct. 2.