“You’re doing my favorite song on country radio right now,” Blake Shelton said to his Voice team member Meghan Linsey during rehearsals for Monday night’s live performances, before she dazzled her coach and guest mentor Reba McEntire with Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush.” But her rendition was remarkably different from country radio’s. The Louisiana native put a soulful, R&B spin on the haunting tune, stretching out notes throughout and giving it more of an Aretha Franklin meets Christina Aguilera vibe. She also took McEntire’s advice of starting the song out softly, in order to convey that her jealousy of another woman is “tearing your heart out.”
“When I was eight years old, I got my first birthday check from my grandmother and I went and bought a Reba cassette tape, because I was obsessed with her hair. I didn’t even know about her music yet,” Linsey laughs. “She’s been a huge inspiration for me, not only as a singer but just as a woman.”
Linsey’s live performance received a round of praise from the coaches, with Shelton deeming it her “breakout moment.”
“The only thing I don’t like about you is that you’re on Blake’s team,” quipped Adam Levine. “You’re amazing.”
But it was McEntire’s feedback that brought the song back to its country roots: “She kicked the dog poo out of that,” said the music icon, whose 27th studio album, Love Somebody, is out today.
As former Steel Magnolia singer Linsey — who opened shows for both Shelton and McEntire in her previous musical life — has switched her career focus from country to soul, there is only one country singer left in The Voice Top 12, Team Blake’s Corey Kent White. Armed with an acoustic guitar, the 20-year-old Oklahoma State University junior delivered an impassioned version of Jason Aldean’s “Why” on Monday’s show, doing fellow Okies Shelton and McEntire proud.
“For the first time, even with the cameras, I felt like it was me and Blake and Reba, just three people hanging out and working on a song to try to make it the best it could be,” White tells the Tulsa World of rehearsals. “In that session, I said, ‘I feel like I’m with family right now,’ and she said, ‘You can just call me Aunt Reba,’ and Blake said, ‘You can call me Uncle Blake.’ It was a really special night.”
The Voice Top 12 will be whittled down to 10 on tonight’s show, airing at 8:00 p.m. ET on NBC.