‘The Voice’: Two Team Blake Singers ‘Preach’ With John Legend Hit

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Blake Shelton is partial to country music singers as the sole country coach on The Voice. But that doesn’t mean he’s not willing to step outside of his genre if he believes an aspiring star has what it takes to win it all on the show.

On Monday night (Oct. 24), he proved just that, selecting soul singer Kevin Hawkins to advance into the knockout stage of the reality TV singing competition.

Shelton’s decision meant he had to send home country hopeful Hillary Torchiana, after she went up against Hawkins in a challenging battle round that saw both contestants singing John Legend’s “Preach” right in front of the award-winning R&B singer.

“I gave these two ‘Preach’ by John Legend because John’s such a melodic writer,” Shelton said of his handpicked song choice ahead of the battle round. “And he’s got so much drama and dynamics in his music that it’s going to give these two a chance to show us all the tools they have in the shed.”

Onstage, the contestants took turns showing off their vocal prowess. Hawkins took the lead with the beginning of the first verse. For each moment both singers equally gave it their all. But, despite Torchiana’s passionate delivery of the song, Hawkins’ conviction and stage presence gave him the edge over his competition.

Torchiana had her work cut out for her heading into the battle round, as she only received one chair turn during her blind audition performance of Adele’s “Easy on Me.” On the contrary, Hawkins earned a rare four-chair-turn in his initial debut with a cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely.”

“Thank you for singing my song,” Legend said, delighted over the duo’s cover. “I felt your passion. I felt your love. It was beautifully executed. Hillary, you’re a wonderful singer. It felt like you dug into the spirit of the song.”

“Kevin, hearing you sing reminded me of how upset I was with Gwen when she blocked me,” he added. “Honestly, you’re just a great singer, and I loved how you can be soft and heartfelt and then you can get big and soulful. If I were to pick, I’d pick Kevin, but I thought both of you did a fantastic job.”

“That was amazing. Both of you look gorgeous,” Gwen Stefani, added. “Hillary, you have such a beautiful tone. It wasn’t until you went into your solo moment where I was like, ‘Whoa, it kind of took my breath away. It was very beautiful.’ Kevin, your personality and stage presence, even when she was singing, I wanted to watch what you were doing with your body language. So that’s incredible. If I were to choose somebody right now, it would be Kevin.”

Camila Cabello also shared her opinion on the battle round, saying, “You both have such incredible voices…. Hillary, I could tell you were wanting to go for it and try to push yourself out of that comfort zone. Kevin, you may have more confidence and have developed that sense of performance presence.”

“Well, my first thought is these guys did an incredible job of representing the song and giving it what it needed,” Shelton said. “Hillary, you knew you had a tall task to go up against Kevin. I mean, he’s unbelievable, but so are you. I’m completely shocked at the way you stepped up to the plate. You took all my notes, and you walked up here. I feel like you gave 100 percent of what you could give it. Kevin, you also gave 100 percent of what you had to give for this performance, even though I don’t think we’ve seen your full potential. Man, that’s saying a lot.”

Based on his wishes to test the waters to see what else Hawkins can do, Shelton chose to keep the Dallas-based piano teacher for his team. For Torchiana, her journey on The Voice has officially come to an end.

Be sure to keep up with The Voice Mondays and Tuesdays on NBC.

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