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First Ever For Returning Artist on THE VOICE Season 23 Premiere Recap

Pictured: Sheer Element -- Photo by: Casey Durkin/NBC

As he’s made it widely known, “The Voice” coach Blake Shelton is enjoying his LAST season on the long-running NBC singing competition show!  The season 23 premiere episode started out with a skit that showed Blake intimidating new coaches Niall Horan and Chance the Rapper by acting like he lives on the stage.

Blake joked to the new coaches that “if you want to win, you have to live here,” as he showed them a makeshift setup of a home like setting on “The Voice” stage.   Kelly Clarkson said Blake won last season because she wasn’t there.  Blake said “this is my last season, so I have to win.”  Two new coaches are “a game changer for all of us,” said Kelly.  Chance said the show is all about the vocals and it will be cool to find that.

Niall was in “One Direction” and now has had tons of hit songs as a solo artist.  Kelly said Niall understands the artist because he’s been an artist in a competition.  Blake said though he has a son-father type bond with Niall mostly because “he disappoints me a lot.”  

The coaches are extra picky this season because they have to build Teams of ten, rather than fourteen like last season.  Each coach has one Block they can use.   The first contestant was a Country artist who sang “Honky Tonk Blues.”


Pictured: Neil Salsich — Photo by: Casey Durkin/NBC

Chair Turns: Blake, Kelly (BLOCKED), Chance, Niall

Neil got a four-chair-turn with Blake Blocking Kelly!  Neil is 34-years-old Saint Louis Missouri.  Kelly called him “old-school” Country.  She told him to remember that Blake Blocked her.  Blake said he didn’t remember doing it!  It’s a Hank Williams song and he liked that Neil did some yodeling in the song.  He’s a full time musician who sings Blues, Rock-N-Roll, and Country.  Chance said the range and the runs, a rapper and a Country singer together could be interesting.   Niall said when he was growing up Garth Brooks was big in Ireland.  He said he perked up to Neill because he feels like he’s a “seasoned veteran.”  

Coach:  Blake Shelton.  Blake said it’s exciting to have an artist who can do all different kinds of genres. Blake said it’s his last season and he’s going out with a bang!  Blake was giving out T-shirt gifts that read, “I’m on Blake’s last Team,” on the front, and “All I got was this lousy t-shirt” on the back.  

SORELLE (Team Chance)

Pictured: Sorelle — Photo by: Casey Durkin/NBC

Sorelle is a sister trio that consists of: Madi, Ana, Bella.  Bella was added a few years ago.  Madi and Ana have been singing since they were little.  They are from Lexington, Ohio  They have 3.2 million followers on Tik Tok and they do a weekly Wednesday broadcast.  As a trio, they Started in 2019, and The Voice is one of their first performances ever.  They were inspired by Girl Named Tom who won “The Voice” two seasons ago. Sorelle sang “Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy” by Queen.  They said they’ve always looked-up to Queen and that’s how they developed their harmonies.  

Chair Turns:  Blake, Chance 

Blake told the girls, “this is my LAST season,” and said he’d be honored to have them on his last Team ever!  Kelly told them that it was really cool what they were doing and “really well-done.”  Niall said he was trying to think what he could bring to the table, and regretted not turning.  Chance pointed-out the theatrical show-tunes feel to their music.  They mainely perform on their Tik Tok.   

Chance suggested adding them to hip hop artists to put together harmonics and sample those.  Chance told them he’d like to create some of that with them.  Blake said “you can pick Chance with a goal to be featured on somebody else’s record, or you can pick Team Blake and make your own record.”  Chance tried a little sample coaching with the girls by having them sing “what could I do” from The Whiz.  

Coach: Chance. This was Chance’s first artist and he thinks Sorelle will have a lot of success in this industry because they can create different arrangements.

Blake said they have Teams of 10 this season, and “it makes it hard” because last season they had 14.  So, every artist counts. 

HOLLY BRAND (Team Kelly)

Holly is from Mississippi and got to open for Blake Shelton at age ten.  She took a photo with Blake back then and she brought the photo with her to her Blind Audition.  She was Miss Mississippi 2021, and competed on Miss America last year. She sang “Mississippi Girl.”   Kelly Clarkson hit her button right away, soon followed by Niall, and Chance.

Chair Turns:  Kelly, Niall, Chance

Kelly yelled at Blake after he didn’t turn, “What is WRONG with you!!” Niall said he nearly hit his button on her first note, and said she reminds him of his friend Maran Morris.  He liked her voice and control,  calling it “unbelievable.”  Chance said her whistle notes took him out and if she “gets down”with him, they’ll win.  Kelly said they don’t have Holly’s sound right now in Country music which is a mix of Faith Hill and Carrie Underwood.  She said she knows a hell of a lot more than Chance and Niall. 

Holly told Blake about opening for him at a concert and she realized that she wanted to be an artist.  Niall told he how he has no one on his Team and it’s his first season and Holly is the “best thing” that’s walked out here.  

Coach: Kelly Clarkson.  It was Kelly’s first artist.  She said Holly is incredible – cool tone and range for days. Holly said Kelly does a lot of great work with a lot of Country artists which is why she chose her. 


Tasha, who is 20-years-old,  is originally from Pakistan, and currently lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  Her parents were “super musical.”  She said it was difficult in Pakistan because she was the one Christian kid.  When she was 12, she had to move to Thailand because they were facing religious persecution.  Last year, Tasha got her U.S. visa, and is currently living with Maverek, her husband.  She writes music, but said she’s so scared to share iw with the world.  Her parents encouraged her at her blind audition virtually.  Tasha sang “River.”  Kelly recognized the song right away.

Chair Turns: Blake, Niall, Chance

Kelly said great song selection and she would have pushed if no one else did because she deserves to be there.  Blake said the longer she sang, the more relaxed she became.  Blake told her, her voice “is hard to define which is the best thing you can have going for you.”  Chance told her she has an undeniable talent. She told Chance that she’s followed him since his first project.  Niall said he’s working with some of the biggest artists and songwriters on the planet and has “the fanbase that would love her.  He said he can clearly tell that she’s a storyteller, he’d be happy to write with her. “Please, come over to Team Niall.”  Then Niall started pointing his finger above his head like Blake.  Blake noticed he was imitating him  and responded “like Father, like son.”  And did the same.

Coach: Blake Shelton.  Blake said nobody else sounds like Tasha, and now she’s on Team Blake.  He said she looks like a star.  Blake called it “cute” that Chance and Niall try to get aritsts. 

Chance said Blake is doing this move where he’s telling everyone that they’ll be on his last season, last Team.


She’s been doing Soca music which is a little faster than calypso.  Star is from the Caribbean and she has songs on the radio there.  She said her daughter Haven pushes her.  Star sang “No Woman, No Cry” in a different genre to show her versatility and she’s connected to Bob Marley.

Chair Turns:  None

Chance said he was sorry they didn’t turn, but he heard some “shakiness.”  Star said she’ll be back, and Chance loved that she said that.   Niall said he would have loved to hear her take off.  Kelly loved her tone, and heard some pitch issues.  She suggested displaying more range next time.  

ROSS CLAYTON (Team Niall)  Four-Chair-Turn

Pictured: Ross Clayton — Photo by: Casey Durkin/NBC

Ross said he’s used to honky tonk bars.  He’s 33 years old from McCloud, Oklahoma,  He and his family has 3 goats and 4 dogs.;  He started doing coffee shop gigs and open mics.  He was flying back and forth from Oklahoma and Nashville.  Realized that his time out there wasn’t worth more than the time at home. So, he gave up music.  Rosee is currently a Senior Product manager.  It has been five years since he’s performed.  His wife couldn’t be there at his audition, but does support his dream

Chair Turns:  Blake, Kelly, Niall, Chance

Ross sang “Blue Ain’t Your Color” for his Blind Audition.  Ross’ voice had a clear Country twang, and once Blake identified that early on, he pushed his button.  Ross got choked-up when he told the coaches that he had to put his music aside to focus on his family of wife and three daughters.

Chance told Ross that he wants to help him “win this whole thing.”   Kelly recommended picking songs that showcases him emotionally.  Then Niall said he wanted to pitch by himself and needed “privacy.”  He then pushed all of the coaches’ buttons to turn all the coaches back  around.  Niall said his voice is “absolutely incredible” and he has that Country tone to his voice. But, he could hear so much soul.  He reminded Ross how he was on a show like this at age 16.  Then Niall got on one knee and begged to have Ross on his Team. 

The chairs turned back around.  Blake responded that if he was pitching to him, he would talk about their kinships as Oklahomans, he would tell him he has venues where Ross can perform as they can ride off into the sunset together.

Coach:  Niall Horan.   Niall said he got his first artist that he had to wait a long time.  Niall predicted that the people of America are going to love Ross.   Blake told Niall that he’s so proud of him.

Blake was looking at Niall as a predecessor and said Niall is going to take my seat on this show, and he can be the kind of liar he needs to be to cover for Team Blake now. 

MICHAEL B. (Team Niall)

Pictured: Michael B. — Photo by: Casey Durkin/NBC

Michael is a production coordinator and not used to being on the other side of the camera.  He said going into high school, he thought musical theater was going to be his thing.  During Senior year, he got to travel to New York and decided he wanted to be on Braodway.  New York didn’t work out.   Michael said he was “shookah” when he found out that Niall Horan was on this season.  He enjoys Pop and Soulful things.  Michael sang “Save Your Tears” by the Weeknd. He displayed some of his musical theater background in his notes.

Chair Turn:  Niall.

Michael lives in L.A. but is from Tusla, Oklahoma.  Niall said Michael sang it very sweet, then started belting and had control.  Chance called it an amazing performance and is excited to see his future song choices.  Niall predicted that Michael is going to “shock a lot of people in this competition.” 

D. SMOOTH (Team Kelly)

D. Smooth sang “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran, and Kelly was the first coach to turn, followed by Niall at the very end of D. ‘s audition!   Kelly was very bummed that Niall turned and she had to compete with him for D. Smooth.

Chair Turns:  Kelly, Niall

D. Smooth is 25 years old from Birmingham, Alabama.  He said he grew-up in a poverty stricken town.  His parents did a good job of sheltering him and his sister “a lot of the dangers.”  He used to study people in the music scene, then started singing open mic.   Chance told him he “smashed” that and “powered-through.”  Kelly said she loved the runs, then realized she cut Chance off and gave him hugs!  Blake played Niall’s side by saying Niall didn’t need anyone to tell him to turn.  Kelly said “mama turns when she wants to turn.”  She noted that D. Smooth sang it so differently than how Ed does it.  Niall because the song is so hard to sing, that’s why he was waiting to turn.  Nice and delicate from the start, then he went to the riff and was just flying.  Kelly said every single performance has to be elevated from here.   He chose “Miss Kelly.”  Niall was NOT happy.

Coach: Kelly Clarkson.  Kelly said his runs were “very on point.”  She’s very excited to see what he wants to do on the show. 

During some down time from filming, Blake was visiting with the coaches and audience members. He said it’s always fun to interact with the audience and he gave one of his Team shirts to an audience member.  He said 12 years on “The Voice” is like from Kindergarten to Senior year.


Emily said she has followed in Blake’s footsteps and has the same dream.  She’s from the same town as Blake in Ada, Oklahoma and told Blake that she plays music at Old Red.  Of course Blake felt bad.  Her sister brought out a present for Blake.  One was a T-Shirt, with the signatures of local musicians on it.  Her grandfather, Ernie Dunlap, knows Blake and had a recording of Blake at 13-years-old which she played back for them.   

Blake said if he could go back in time he would have hit his button for her.  Hearing me perform at 13, no matter how bad you suck, you can get there.

Kelly noted that every time someone has a gift for Blake, he doesn’t turn.  Lol.

ALEX WHALEN (Team Blake)

Pictured: Alex Whalen — Photo by: Casey Durkin/NBC

Alex worked as a tub driver in London underground for 18 years.  He said sometimes he wouldn’t see the sun for a week.  He dreamed of coming out to Hollywood while driving in the front of train.  43 years old, originally from London and currently residing at Indian Rocks Beach Florida.  he met his wife in a pub while performing.  Alex plays five to six shows per week playing in the background.  He’s hoping that “The Voice” is the change that he’s looking for. He said at 43, it’s not too late.  Alex sang “Help Me Make It Through the Night” by Sammy Smith.  Blake recognized that it was a Sammy Smith song right away.  It was a slow start for Alex when no coaches turned until he was almost done with his audition.

Chair Turns:  Blake, Chance

When Chance turned at the very end, Blake yelled at Chance to “stop it!”  Kelly said when Alex goes low, that ‘s his super power.  SHe said she’s excited to see him work with Chance. “It’s just the coolest thing ever.”  Blake told Niall to speak up for him.  Niall helped Blake by backing him, “that’s your man” while pointing at Blake.  Blake said he’s never had a chance to work with a Country singer from London, and “this is my last season as a coach on this show.” Chance said this is actually my last season too. Then said “just joking.”  Chance said his voice is so unique, he’s a natural tenor. Kelly said what’s interesting is “what Team are you going to stand out on?”  She suggested that he will be part of a Team with similar singers like him if he goes on Team Blake.  Blake said it’s nice how Kelly chose to not be a part of Alex’s life by not turning. 

Coach:  Blake Shelton.  Blake said Alex has got that thing about him. His voice is a little wild and has a rock edge to it. Blake said Chance has come into this “fearless.”   Chance hadn’t used his Block yet, and promised that it’s coming.

Niall thought it was funny that Blake has never left the country.  Blake said “that’s why I’m retiring guys.”  

NOIVAS (Savion Wright) – Team Chance

Noivas is 30 years old, From Hutto, Texas.  He has one girl and one more in the way. He loves being a “girl dad” and wants his kids to look back and say dad didn’t give up on his dream, why should I.It was the first song he ever played on the guitar.  

He sang “A Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cook. He said it’s the first song that he ever played on the guitar. His Dad grew up in Jim Crow, Mississippi in a time of widespread racism.  He waited for a change..  His grandfather said the song reminded him of the happiest times in his life and some of the worst times in his life, before he passed.  That’s the best definition of what it is to be black in this country.  He dedicated the song to his family and community and wanted to honor those that came before him.  Noivas got a four-chair-turn right away.

Chair Turns:  Kelly, Chance, Blake (BLOCKED), Niall

His stage name is “Noivas”, his name spelled backwards.  Chance said he wanted to give him the platform to show himself to the world.  He said he Blocked Blake.  Blake said it shows that Chance is threatened by him.  He told Noivas that he made that song his.  Noivas said he was inspired by Chance, and made his own song rapping that went viral.  

Kelly said “I won the show a few times” and she has a TV show.  She said the key thing is having a coach that knows how to navigate. Chance stood up, and walked on all the coaches names on the stage that all changed to “Chance.”   He said he wants him to win the show.  Niall said he gave them some sensitive moments and hadn’t seen anyone that passionate.. “it’s like Stevie Wonder stuff.” Noivas said he considers himself a Pop artist.  Novias said he was going to choose Blake.

Coach:  Chance the Rapper.  Chance was ecstatic.  Kelly was shocked.  Chance said Noivas is one of his secret weapons now.  



Pictured: Sheer Element — Photo by: Casey Durkin/NBC

It sounded like there were two singers, then Blake guessed “three people”  Chance hit his button first and it was indeed three singers.  Kelly turned on their very last note.

Chair Turns:  Chance, Niall, Kelly

Kelly was shocked especially when she saw former Team Kelly member from 2019.  He sang a duet with Kelly Clarkson in 2019.  He formed this group after that.  He said they are there so one of the coaches can elevate them to another level.  No one has ever come back and competed on the show again, and he’s happy to share the experience with his best friends this time.  

Chance said he didn’t expect it to be three.  Niall said “it sounded like 10.” It sounded so tight, said Chance.  He joked that he knows a lot about threes (referring to the 3 on his hat).  Kelly said they’re incredibly tight atn they know their vibe.  She said they’re picking a coach for song selection.  Niall said his favorite groups are the Eagles, Boyz II Men and they would work well together.  Chance said you can hear every one of their tones coming through.  

They trio huddled to make a coach selection.  They said they wanted to go with someone who has a history…They picked Kelly.

Coach: Kelly Clarkson.  It’s the first time ever a singer has come back on the show with a group.  And she won with a group last time.  

Niall hadn’t used his Block yet.


Carlos sang “Change the World” by Eric Clapton.  He dedicated the performance to his wife.  Carlos said he had a childhood crush on Kelly.  he met his wife abroad in Germany.  He said his wife has been the greatest joy in his life.  His wife said his voice is so beautiful and glad he’s there at “The Voice.”  Carlos said he had to learn the art of the hustle while getting music gigs. 

Chair Turns:  Blake, Kelly

Chance said his voice would do well with R&B.  Kelly said it took her a minute to turn around and she was waiting for him to climb and more dynamics.  She said she hit her button because she thinks he has what it takes to be on this show.   Blake said he had a feeling that Carlos was playing the guitar because that’s how in the pocket he was in.  Blake said when he started in Nashville it was him and his guitar. 

Coach:  Blake Shelton.  Blake said Carlos is “incredibly talented” and he didn’t sound like Erick Clapton, he sounded like Carlos and that’s why he turned. 

Kelly did something special for Blake, and placed lights in the hallway  


Alex is from Belmont, North Carolina.  There was a restaurant looking for singing waiters. The restaurant owner was the father of the Jonas brothers.  He said you had to do everything plus sing.  He decided to move to Nashville to pursue singing full time. He said chair turns would give him the validation that he needs and “The Voice” would give him the platform to do this for the rest of his life. Alex sang “She Had Me at Heads Carolina.”  

Chair Turns:  None

Chance liked his drawl.  Niall said there were some pitch issues.  Blake said Alex just had a shaky performance today and because they only get ten per Team, everyone is picky.

Niall said he’s looking for people that stand out.

MAGNUS (Team Chance)

Magnus is 25 and from Virginia Beach.  He said he was a rebellious child.  His mom said when he started singing in the chorus, that’s when he found his way.  After college, he auditioned with Pharelle Willams gospel choir.  He never had a solo in the choir, and he wants to be that person in the limelight because that’s his dream.   He left his job as a middle school choir teacher.  Magnus sang “Sara Smile.”  Chance hit his button right away!

Chair Turns:  Chance

Chance was so excited to have Magnus all to himself.  Kelly said “that was good!” She said Chance was so excited and she didn’t want to take that away from him.  Chance said the way he approached the song was amazing, and he has already won the whole show!  Blake said his performance got better and better as it went along.  Chance said his boy Magnus is the truth.  He has a soulful, churchy voice that has a nostalgic feel to it.  From the first moment, he had him pegged to win the competition.  

KALA (Team Niall)

Kala’s mom is from the Philippines.  It’s a tradition that when you sing in the Philippines, people throw money at you. Her mom said Kala expected this whenever she sang!  Kala was part of the a cappela group called Gestalt in performing arts school.  She works at an agency with music clients.  Kala said Kelly Clarkson would be a dream to work with!  Kala sang “Both Sides Now” by Joni Mitchelll.  She said the lyrics allow her to be vulnerable because all she has is the song to connect herself with the coaches. 

Chair Turns:  Kelly (Blocked), Niall, Chance

It was just between the new coaches – Niall and Chance because Blake didn’t turn even after Kelly urged him to turn.  Kelly said she’s going to Steal her, mark her words.  Niall said he doesn’t have a singer like her.  Niall told Kala that he got one Block and he chose to use it on her.  The song choices available for you are huge,” said Niall. He said he wants to write a song and play a guitar with her.  

Chance said she has the most unique voice they’ve heard so far with an amazing range and tone.  Blake said he’s never heard that song before and he was looking down the line (of coaches) and they were singing every word of the song.  He thought if they are that familiar with the song, then these are the coaches she should choose from, and she should take her “Chance.”  Niall got upset over that nod to Chance the Rapper.

Coach: Niall.  

Kelly was still upset.  Niall said Team Niall is shaping up so well. He’s always looking for someone with a story to tell, and Kala is perfect for that.  Niall called it a “perfectly timed Block” when he pushed his Block at the exact right moment while Kelly’s hand was above her button.  Kelly said “I can’t fight One Direction!”  


Pictured: (l-r) Blake Shelton, Jimmy Fallon — Photo by: Casey Durkin/NBC

Jimmy came on and sang “Can’t Forget” by Michael McDonald.  

Chair Turns:  Kelly, Niall, Chance.

They were all shocked when they turned.  Blake didn’t turn.  So, Jimmy walked over to his chair and pushed Blake’s button!  Blake shouted he broke the rules!  Jimmy said he was across the lot and wanted to stop by and say hello to Blake since it’s his last season.  Chance said he thought that Jimmy was Michael McDonald!   Blake said he knew it was Jimmy Fallon and he wasn’t going to turn his chair because he doesn’t deserve a chair turn.  Blake added that Jimmy sounds like Michael McDonald if you hit him in the face. 



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