Pierce County talent is once again in the running on “The Voice.”
Two local singers made it onto the NBC show Tuesday night. Another just missed it.
Tacoma’s Stephanie Johnson, 29, and Eatonville’s Emily Randolph, 15, both were chosen to compete on the reality TV show, which is in the midst of three weeks of blind auditions in which aspiring singers perform on stage, unseen by potential coaches.
Johnson’s performance of KT Tunstall’s “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree” grabbed the interest of celebrity coaches CeeLo Green and Christina Aguilera who simultaneously hit the big red buttons that turned their chairs.
The elation on Johnson’s face was obvious when she had finished her song with Green and Aguilera facing her.
Though coach Adam Levine of Maroon 5 didn’t turn his chair he was still impressed with Johnson.
“I could feel the attitude all the way through the chairs. It hit me right in the face,” Levine said.
“I heard soul and conviction,” Green said. “I saw Vicci Martinez from season one.”
“I went to high school with her,” Johnson responded.
“That’s what they call serendipity,” Green said. Tacoma singer Martinez placed third at the end of the first season.
But it was Aguilera who Johnson chose as her coach. Green ripped off his omnipresent sunglasses in mock offense.
“I was really taken with the energy you put out there,” Aguilera said.
Randolph, an Eatonville High School junior, chose country star Blake Shelton as her coach. Her video segment was just a few seconds long in a round-up of several contestants. It could not be ascertained if she got the attention of any other coaches beyond Shelton.
Johnson, on the other hand, was given nearly eight minutes of air time on “The Voice.” Her appearance featured a long segment that featured her grandmother who has been a musical influence on her.
“My grandmother played blues on the weekdays and then gospel on Sundays,” Johnson said.
“I never dreamed of this,” the grandmother said in the video. “My Stephie on ‘The Voice.’ And the whole world is going to hear her.”
In the video, Johnson recalled her classical and opera voice training in high school and how she later found herself working in a day care.
“So I got a job working on a cruise ship in Alaska,” Johnson said. Video segments showed her performing her self-described lounge act on the ship. She spends eight months of the year at sea. “I miss everything,” she said. “I’m ready to get back on land.”
“Stephanie Anne Johnson is the real deal! So excited to have her on (Team Christina),” Tweeted Aguilera after the show.
South Hill teen singer Jason Kertson also auditioned for the show but didn’t turn any of the judges’ chairs. Though Kertson, an Emerald Ridge High School student, wasn’t chosen, he was given a short video introduction and a full on-air audition. Kertson said his father taught him to play the guitar.
Kertson then taught himself to play two guitars simultaneously and posted a video of himself on YouTube. That got the attention of Megadeath founder Dave Mustaine. Kertson now performs occasionally with Mustaine’s daughter Electra.
“I got 90 seconds to make my dream come true so I’m going to sing my heart out,” Kertson said before taking the stage on Tuesday. The show was pre-recorded.
The 16-year-old’s rendition of Hinder’s “Lips of an Angel,” along with his mature voice, impressed the judges.
“That’s not what I thought you were going to look like at all,” Shelton said after his chair swiveled around to face Kertson.
“It makes feel less of a man to know there’s a 16 year-old that sounds more like a man than I ever was,” Levine said of Kertson’s deep voice.
While on stage Kertson confessed to Aguilera that he had a bit of a crush on her. But it was the female fans in the studio and who lit up Twitter that seemed to have developed an immediate crush on Kertson.
“The Voice” has one more week of blind auditions before singers start to compete against each other. The winner receives a recording contract.
Craig Sailor: 253-597-8541