The Blind Auditions
Contestant Kenzie Wheeler first blew all four coaches away on NBC's The Voice season 20 with his incredible cover of Keith Whitley's "Don't Close Your Eyes." Especially Kelly Clarkson who couldn't stop yelling "Please, pick me!" as soon as the song was finished. But it wasn't just Clarkson who was a fan of Wheeler's performance...the country singer ended up getting an impressive four-chair turn.
The Dover, Florida native had Blake Shelton kick off the feedback, explaining that he was the last to turn (even though it didn't count) because Clarkson had blocked him. He also said that Wheeler had a "triple threat mullet...the rarest of all mullets," pointing out the combination of the rare widow's peak and shaved sides, made Wheeler a "unicorn." Something the singer has in common with Coach Blake who was known for rocking the hairstyle in his early Nashville days.
Next up was Nick Jonas (who replaced Gwen Stefani as a coach) who said, "Kenzie, nothing has brought me more pleasure than hearing your voice and seeing that beautiful blocked symbol," pointing over to Blake. He and Kelly had both tried to use their one block in order to steal Wheeler from Shelton, they were so impressed with his performance. Jonas argued that he was a young man himself and with an endorsement from Blake felt he was the best choice.
John Legend argued that he might not seem like the natural choice for a country artist, but had a female country singer on his team the previous season who had made it to the live performances under his coaching. But literally, no one was more excited to provide feedback than Kelly who had been standing up bouncing since the performance ended.
"I have won The Voice with two country singers...I'm just sayin'" she began. "I just used my only block on him (Shelton) and since he's not an option Kenzie, I'm just saying..."
The coaches continued to argue their causes with Blake even jumping in and pointing at Nick as his choice but of course, it was Kenzie's choice on which coach he wanted to work with. Is it any surprise that he picked Team Kelly? She is pretty much as close to working with country music icon Blake Shelton as he could get and she was clearly incredibly passionate about working with him. We can't wait to follow along with Wheeler's journey on the singing competition!
The Battle Rounds
As Wheeler moved into the battle rounds, he proved that he is definitely one to beat in the singing competition. He was paired up against JD Casper to perform Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's "Fishin' in the Dark" and he was just as impressive as his blind audition. Shelton really put it best when he noted that Wheeler, "dumped himself into that vocal performance." He was so country it felt like the song was his own.
It really wasn't a surprise that Clarkson's stand-in Kelsea Ballerini named Wheeler the winner of the battle. She even added that part of his charm is that he doesn't know how good he is and she hopes he never does. She also made him pinky promise not to shave his mullet ever and we have to agree.
As we moved into the knockout round, it was surprising that Kelly decided to pair Kenzie up against her new addition she saved during the knockouts, Avery Roberson who was originally on Team Blake. Wheeler exuded star status in his performance of Luke Combs' "Beer Never Broke My Heart." As much as we loved Roberson's rendition of Chris Young's "Tomorrow," Wheeler was the clear winner.
"You're probably going to win The Voice and that haircut is going to be trending," Blake Shelton told Wheeler after the performance.
It came as no surprise when Kelly named Wheeler the winner of the knockout. Even John Legend called him "a star." We have no doubt he'll continue to impress America during the live performances in the coming weeks.
Live Top 17 Performances
It should come as no surprise that Wheeler would completely blow everyone away with Brooks & Dunn's "Red Dirt Road." Coach Kelly was incredibly impressed and by singing a slower song he proved that he really can cover pretty much any type of country music. We have no doubt that America will vote Wheeler back for the next live performances when narrowed down from a group of 17 to 9.
Live Top 9 Performances
It's pretty clear that somehow, Wheeler continues to outdo himself week after week. After discovering he made it to the top 9, he decided to cover George Jones in one of his all-time great songs -- "He Stopped Loving Her Today." As usual, all of the coaches were impressed and Kelly Clarkson even admitted that Wheeler has become one of her favorite country singers of all time because of his incredible tone. We can't wait to see if America was equally moved by the performance and brings him back for the finale's top 5!
Live Finale Performances
Proving that Wheeler is in it to win it, he chose two strong classic country songs for his final performances for America as part of the top 5 -- Tracy Byrd's "The Keeper of the Stars" and George Strait's "Heartland." Prior to the George Strait cover, Wheeler read a touching letter to his hometown of Dover, Florida, and was barely able to keep himself from crying talking about how the town shaped him and gave him lifelong friends. We're rooting for you Kenzie!
This article was originally published on March 2, 2021. It was updated on May 25, 2021.