A Tacoma cruise ship singer was saved by celebrity coach CeeLo Green in a dramatic finish to the first round of competition on “The Voice” on Tuesday night. Another local singer wasn’t so lucky.
Tacoma’s Stephanie Anne Johnson advanced to the next phase while 15-year-old Eatonville singer Emily Randolph was ousted from the NBC reality show.
“I am really, really grateful that CeeLo gave me another chance. I’m just hoping that he and I can make some magic together,” Johnson said.
In Tuesday’s battle rounds, two contestants from the same team were paired together in a duet. The coach then decided which singer stayed and which went home. Other coaches had the option of “saving” the losing singer by adding him or her to their team.
Randolph lost to fellow contestant Brandon Chase. They sang a duet of Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer.” Coach Blake Shelton made the decision, calling Chase, 20, the more developed of the two singers. While preparing for Tuesday's performance, the two singers were also coached by singing legend Cher.
Johnson, 29, also lost — at least initially. She competed against fellow contestant Olivia Henken, 25, in a duet of The Band Perry’s “Done.”
“This song is a country song but if you give me any style — rock, country, folk — I would be able to do it. I think this is a good fit for me,” Johnson said before the competition.
Johnson and Henken were coached by pop star Christina Aguilera and British singer Ed Sheeran.
Sheeran told Johnson that her blind audition at the beginning of the season was his favorite of the show.
“I like the amount of flair Steph gave it,” Sheeran said of Johnson’s rehearsal.
It was Aguilera’s decision to keep Henken and drop Johnson. But pop star Green, who had tried to get Johnson to join his team earlier this season, quickly exercised his option to “steal” Johnson.
“You made it yours. You gave it soul,” Green told Johnson after her performance Tuesday.
Coach Adam Levine of Maroon 5 also praised Johnson and said her performance had “grit.”
When Green hit his button to save Johnson, the Tacoma native burst into tears.
“This is the one show that gives second and third chances. She’s remarkably talented,” Green said of Johnson. “I’m looking forward to what she can do in the future.”
Johnson’s grandmother, Freddie Mae Barnett, was in the studio audience and seems to have developed her own fan base that includes Aguilera. The pop star led a chant, “Grandma! Grandma! Grandma...” after Green saved Johnson.
Earlier this week, another Washingtonian – Austin Jenckes of Duvall – advanced to the show’s next round. He’s competing on Shelton’s team.
The knockout rounds begin on Monday. The singers will be paired again with a team member but this time at the last minute. Each contestant performs his or her own song while a competitor watches. Their coach will choose a winner with the loser sent home.
In the final live performance broadcasts of the competition, viewers vote to save their favorite contestants. The two singers with the lowest number of votes will be sent home each week. The ultimate winner of “The Voice” will receive a recording contract.
In the show’s first season Tacoma singer Vicci Martinez made it to third place. Martinez will be back in her hometown for a performance at The Swiss on Sunday.
Craig Sailor: 253-597-8541