As judges on The Voice, Blake Shelton and Usher are constantly reminding their team members one crucial thing: to make those cover songs their own. And boy, does the R&B star practice what he preaches. At United Way of Dallas’ 90th Anniversary Celebration last week, Usher turned Shelton’s plucky little breakup romp, “Neon Light” into a smooth, soul ballad (watch a fan-shot video above). If this were the battle rounds, the Texas-born “Yeah!” singer might have just delivered a killer punch.
“How did I do?” Usher asked the audience with a smirk before spinning Michael Jackson-style on his heels. The two also paired up for a take on Shelton’s “Home,” which was actually written and released first by Michael Bublé before it became a country hit in 2008 for the Oklahoman. They’d previously played a version at Shelton’s Healing in the Heartland Benefit back in 2013, which raised millions for tornado victims.
The Voice, with its genre mash-up of stars, has been breeding quirky pairings since its debut in 2011. Most recently, current judges Adam Levine and Gwen Stefani took the Grammy stage to perform Maroon 5’s “My Heart is Open,” which also features the No Doubt singer on the album version. And Pharrell Williams played producer on Stefani’s spastic single, “Spark the Fire.”
At the February 6th event, Shelton also performed a selection of hits as well as a version of George Strait’s “All My Ex’s Live in Texas” – hopefully not as a nod to wife Mirada Lambert, who was born in the Lone Star State.
Said Usher to the crowd of about 20,000 people, which included the likes of First Lady Laura Bush and football legend Troy Aikman, “it doesn’t matter if it’s country or R&B music — an emotion is an emotion, right?” Indeed.