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23-year-old Miley Cyrus's dynamic personality adds life to The Voice - (JJ Duncan photo)


The experience and feminine maturity of 35-year-old Alicia Keys gives her an edge with some contestants that are her fans and are drawn to her on The Voice - (Eva Rinaldi photo)



James Loving - National Radio Text Service



The addition of two female judges in 23-year-old Miley Cyrus and 35-year-old Alicia Keys gives the show a supercharge effect - The Voice's format is completely opposite the system that brought American Idol to its knees and its fall from grace as they focused far too much on the judges… especially Jennifer Lopez. It was as if she was the show


Sunday, October 02, 2016


If the first week of The Voice is any indication this season of the show will be its best ever. The addition of two female judges in 23-year-old Miley Cyrus and 35-year-old Alicia Keys gives the show a supercharge effect.

Cyrus is the energy bunny and Keys comes off as the more mature mom type who fits into the role as the voice of reason. The two show respect and warmth for each other fortifying the new look of women power on The Voice. Their chemistry and presence adds a very appealing compliment to the veteran male judges in blending in with three time The Voice coach winner Adam Levine and four time winner Blake Shelton.

The youthful Cyrus adds a dimension to the show that it never had. In the past several judges had a too cool to be in school persona. That does not apply to Cyrus who lets it all hang out by being extremely vocal in a positive way. She refers to herself as SMILEY MILEY.

Cyrus challenges her male counterparts in a positive charming manner and her exuberance and professional success is attracting talent that may have fallen through the cracks and may have never qualified to appear on the show.

The interesting dynamic, as Cyrus pointed out, is that since she has a country music background she qualifies as a threat to Shelton as being the only one on the judging/coaching panel from that category. Her other appeal to contestants is she has a background as a pop/rocker that influences them to choose her as their coach. It's her bubbly upbeat personality that will make this season the most interesting in The Voice's history.

Additionally Cyrus is adding another comedic aspect to the program as she verbally spars with Shelton. Shelton a four time winner as a coach questions when Cyrus will shut up as she motor mouths her appeals to contestants to select her as their coach. As Shelton said to her, in a warm humorous way, she is sucking all of the air out of the room.

Keys started off being the strongest of the judges in nabbing the first two contestants of the season. She and Cyrus have similar tastes and their tastes were a contrast to the types of singers that appeal to Shelton and Levine.

On several occasions the two ladies were the only judges to turn their chairs to select a voice. That exemplifies the value of their presence for without them some great voices would most likely never make it on to the show.

Up to this point, following the airing of Episode 4, Key's has the strongest fan following of the judges given the reaction of the contestants. In her youth 24-year-old contestant Lauren Diaz idolized Key's and dressed like her and sang her songs that enabled her to win singing contests.

For the blind audition Diaz stayed on course and sang Keys song, "If I Ain't Got You" and Keys responded in kind when her chair turned as she wanted Diaz on her team. Every judge except Levine turned their chairs around but it was an obvious choice that Diaz chose Keys.

The shocker of the opening week was 56-year-old Dan Shafer. The man from Tennessee dropped his music career that included having his voice recorded on several television commercials, to take care of his then 11 year-old son who had Chiron's disease. The Voice gives him the opportunity the restart his abandoned career.

Shafer's young voice belies his age. It is sweet, clear and powerful. Surprisingly as good as his voice is Blake Shelton was the only judge that turned his chair around.

"You are what I love about the voice," said Shelton regarding the shows format of having the judges chairs turned around with their back to the contestants and having to make a decision based only on the quality of a singer's voice and not judging on a singer's looks and age. "This guy has got an amazing voice," he added before he headed off to hug the man who will represent to gray panthers (elderly) of the world, in the competition.

Other strong contenders include 20-year-old Christian Cuevas who chose Keys after a three chair turnaround. Cuevas' father was a famous professional singer in Puerto Rico before he passed away last year at a young age.

17-year-old Wé McDonald and 28-year-old Billy Gilman also impressed with strong performances and both singers received four chair turnarounds. The little lady Miss We chose Keys to be her coach and Gilman chose Levine.

McDonald shocked the judges with her powerful voice and sounded like a seasoned woman and professional singer. When she spoke her voice was extremely high like Minnie Mouse and that surprised all of the judges.

Her history includes that she was bullied by her schoolmates and didn't fit in with the in-crowd thus she turned her energies to singing which had resulted in her excellent voice. Her rich voice enabled her to appear at the well-known Carnegie Hall and the Apollo theaters.

McDonald's voice is so distinctive and strong that it is used in the television ads promoting The Voice. Win or lose, with her talent it would be interesting to see her being produced by a quality music producer such as Quincy Jones. She has the best voice ever to appear on either American Idol or The Voice.

Gilman has an interesting background by having signed a record deal when he was just 10-years-old. In 2000, at the age of 11, he debuted with the single "One Voice," a Top 20 hit on the Billboard country music charts and became the youngest singer to have a Top 40 hit on the country music charts. An album of the same name was released later that year on Epic Records, and was certified double platinum in the United States. Following it was a Christmas album Classic Christmas and Dare to Dream, both of which were certified gold.

He was a guest on television shows and nominated for two Grammy Awards. As he grew older his voice changed and he lost his recording contract. Now that he has matured he has found his NEW VOICE and is incredible resulting in a four chair turnaround.

The twist to his story is when he was young he opened up a show for Cyrus' father Billy Cyrus. She recognized him when she turned around as did Shelton given all have country music roots. The real shocker was when Gilman chose Levine to be his coach which should make for interesting television to see how the POP star Levine handles a singer with a country music background.

Three contestants have parents that have had successful music and professional sports careers. Sundance Head, 37, is the son of Roy Head who had a hit recording in the 50's. Sundance previously appeared on American Idol but failed to make the cut. He has a good voice and had a three chair turn around and chose Shelton to be his coach. It will be interesting to see how long he survives in the competition.

Austin Allsup's, 32, had only one chair turn around and was defaulted to be a member of Shelton's team. Allsup's father is a well known musician who was a member of bands that backed recording artists Willie Nelson and Buddy Holly. Most famously his father was a member of Holly's band and lost a coin flip that would have given him the last seat on a plane that crashed killing all on board including Holly.

Dana Harper, 25, is the daughter former NBA player Ron Harper. She had three chairs turnaround for her with Cyrus being the only coach not to do so. In an interesting twist, being that she is African American and is not a country singer she chose Shelton to be her coach.

The other interesting aspect to these three contestants is they are all from Texas and all have Shelton as their coach.

Each season the quality of the talent gets better. Recalling the first two seasons of the show it was almost a nightmare. The program survived despite the low quality of talent from those first two seasons. Much of that can be attributed to the shows production team which takes into account to focus on the talent and not overburden the viewers with too much of a focus on the judges. The balance is almost perfect.

The Voice's format is completely opposite the format that brought American Idol to its knees and its fall from grace as they focused far too much on the judges… especially Jennifer Lopez. It was as if she was the show.

Each season the quality time given to the contestants on The Voice seems to increase. This year it appears that prior a contestant's blind audition performance more time is given for video features of the participant's background with insights to their entertainment history and family life.

Human interest stories run abound with several contestants having suffered a rough life by growing up in inner city housing projects that are infested with drug dealers and gangs resulting in the murders of residents.

The Voice won a Grammy Award earlier this week. When those involved in the shows production emerged to accept the prize an army of people took the stage. It appeared that there were almost 30 producers on podium. Given the huge number involved in the production of the show their involvement is justified as the quality of The Voice keeps getting better and better.


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