See 'Voice' Contestant Valerie Ponzio's Johnny Cash Cover - Rolling Stone
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See ‘Voice’ Contestant Valerie Ponzio’s Blistering Johnny Cash Cover

Texas native impresses coaches with “Ring of Fire”

With the final week of blind auditions currently happening on The Voice, a few notable country performers have found themselves moving on to the next stage. Last night, two more country-leaning hopefuls stepped up.

Valerie Ponzio performed Johnny Cash’s 1963 classic “Ring of Fire,” which achieved Number One status for seven weeks that summer on the Billboard charts. Channeling Dolly Parton and Janis Joplin, Ponzio balanced a sweet coo in the beginning with full-throated wails near the end of her performance. 

“I’ve idolized Gwen Stefani since I was 16 years old and Blake [Shelton] is just everything I want to be in country music, so if any one of those coaches turns their chair, that would be the most amazing feeling for me,” said Ponzio before taking the stage.

And turn they did, along with fellow judges Alicia Keys and Adam Levine, earning the singer a rare four-chair turnaround. The 32-year-old El Paso, Texas musician, a self-described “lovely Latina country singer,” currently performs as part of the country Americana group Val and the Southern Line.

“What an incredible voice you have. And to hear you say country Americana, that’s where I think I can help you. Nashville relationships tend to last a lifetime. Country fans are the most loyal fans in all of music, let’s not goof around with this sis,” said Shelton, who ultimately won her over for his team. 

Meanwhile, another country standout, Kenny Pengal (who goes by Kenny P) impressed the judges with Todd Rundgren’s soulful rock ballad “Hello It’s Me.” The 30-year-old singer, a Cleveland native and current Nashville resident, talked about his love of country, blues and soul. His take on Rundgren’s 1972 hit went the soft rock route with a hint of Broadway flair, nailing the long notes and smooth vocals effortlessly. Watch it below.

“The way you’re able to attack those notes with so much power, like you didn’t even need the microphone,” said Shelton. But his girlfriend Stefani got the upper hand. “I don’t really know the Nashville scene, although I have been to about two billion Blake Shelton concerts in the last year,” she joked, scoring another member for Team Gwen.

The Voice wraps up its 12th season blind auditions tonight, March 14th, at 8:00 p.m. ET on NBC.

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