Monday night’s episode of NBC’s The Voice featured 10 strong performances from Team Blake and Team Pharrell — including a powerful musical statement from Meghan Linsey, the one-time country artist-turned-soul singer who’s become a frontrunner for coach Blake Shelton.
In 2009, the Louisiana native’s star was on the rise. “Keep on Lovin’ You,” the debut single from Steel Magnolia, her duo with then-boyfriend Joshua Scott Jones, had climbed to the Top Five on the country chart. But by 2013, Lindsey found herself alone — both personally and professionally — and dogged by uncertainty. She branched out as a solo artist and in doing so, also proved her versatility with a cover of OneRepublic’s pop hit, “Counting Stars.”
“It was the hardest thing in my life to completely start over,” she confessed in a taped package on Monday’s Live Playoffs show.
Shelton recognizes her brief brush on the country chart is now a double-edged sword.
“I look at Twitter, and I see because you had a hit before in a different way, there’s always going to be haters out there saying, ‘This isn’t fair,'” he emphathizes, as she nods silently.
Although she’s been lauded on past shows for her flawless take on such classic tunes as Aretha Franklin’s “(You Make Me Feel Like) a Natural Woman,” this week, Linsey chose to showcase her modern side by turning to yet another OneRepublic song: “Love Runs Out.” But her rendition flipped the dance-pop anthem onto its head, grounding it in rock and blues. Prowling the stage in a black sequined skirt, she belted out lyrics with the conviction of a scorned woman with something to prove: “I got my mind made up, man, I can’t let go/I’m killing every second, ’til it saves my soul/I’ll be running, I’ll be running/’Til the love runs out, ’til the love runs out.”
Linsey’s performance prompted a standing ovation from her former coach, Pharrell Williams, who chose another contestant over her in the Battle Rounds. Luckily, she was stolen by Shelton — her former tourmate (Steel Magnolia opened for him on his first headlining trek in 2010-2011), and the only judge who didn’t turn his chair for her during the Blind Auditions.
“You’re living proof you should not give up on your dream,” Williams gushed. “‘No’ should be your biggest motivation, because you heard ‘no’ so many times, and look where you end up. Right where you want to be, and doing what you want to do — your way!”
With Linsey now re-branding herself as a soul singer, only one country artist now remains on The Voice: Team Shelton’s Corey Kent White, who sang “Garth’s version” of the Bob Dylan-penned ballad, “Make You Feel My Love.”
“You’re my only country artist,” Shelton told White before Monday’s performance. “All my eggs, you’re sittin’ on. Don’t crack it.”
And although The Voice is billing him as a “folk artist,” Team Pharrell’s Sawyer Fredericks has proven he has an ear for country music. The 16-year-old farm boy from Fultonville, New York scored a Number Two hit on the iTunes country chart with the bluegrass standard, “Man of Constant Sorrow,” which he performed during his Blind Audition.
Live Playoffs wrap up tonight (Tuesday) on The Voice, with contestants from Team Christina and Team Adam taking the stage. On Wednesday’s results show, each of the four teams will be whittled down to three contestants to form this season’s Top 12.