As the contestants on The Voice put their pipes to the test Monday night in the singing competition's first live rounds of the season, the singers from Team Christina and Team Blake tell TV Guide Magazine that the advice they received from their mentors is already making a major impact on them — and maybe all the difference needed to put them over the top.
Classically trained opera singer Chris Mann revealed that his coach Christina Aguilera quickly cracked the code to adapt his arias to a more mainstream musical approach. "Christina made it very clear that I can't be afraid and I have to use my whole voice," he explained. "I was trying to shrink my voice down so long from singing classically and I got really lost and kind of disappeared. So using the voice that I was given to its fullest is what Christina told me to do, and that's what I think about every time."
Mann says Aguilera also switched up his arrangement for the live show, improving his comfort zone. "The first time that we rehearsed 'Bridge Over Troubled Water,' she stopped the band immediately and was like, 'I want it stripped down, classic, intimate,'" he recalls. "And I was sort of like, 'Thank, God.' That's exactly what I wanted, and so we were completely connected there. So far she's batting a thousand and I love her."
"She's really smart and perceptive," added Team Christina singer Lindsay Pavao. "She's not just here to make a diva. She's here to help cultivate art in people like Moses Stone and me and other people who are writing their own kind of covers. That inspires her, and so it's not just about glory notes. I know the audience loves a good high note, but she's deeper than that."
"I think that Christina gets the whole shebang of Moses Stone," agreed Stone. "She definitely knows that I love to entertain. She knows that I love to sing, that I love to rap, that I really just love to be a true artist, so being with her, she lets me incorporate all of those different kinds of things and kind of break the barriers and show people more of what I can do, from playing instruments to singing to dancing and running around and doing my whole thing."
Even a member of Blake Shelton's crew embraced Aguilera's constructive criticism during the live rounds: the pop star wasn't enamored of Jermaine Paul's choice to perform Bon Jovi's "Living On a Prayer." "She didn't feel like it was the right song for me, and that was cool," said Paul. "I'm hoping that I'll have a chance to show her that we do have it under control and we know what we want to do. We just thought that this song would be a good choice for tonight."
Conversely, one of Aguilera's singers, Ashley De La Rosa, has found inspiration in the way Shelton interprets his songs despite their wildly different approaches. "He's country and I'm totally not, but there are certain aspects of a country-type voice that I can use," explained De La Rosa. "I'm a fan of country music. I like it. I just don't sing it because it's kind of awkward for me, but I feel like I could use some of the technique in country music to my advantage."
Team Blake singer Erin Willett says Shelton's advice seems particularly aware of an artist's need to evolve and explore while staying faithful to their essence. "I think when he was on the show last season people were kind of like, 'Blake Shelton? Who's Blake Shelton?'" said Willett. "And he really came into his own, as an artist and as a person — and as someone that people look to for a good giggle. He understands the importance of staying true to yourself, as an artist and as an individual. He does give us that opinion of 'I don't know if that's right for this competition...' but he's never really forced me to do anything that I didn't think I would want to do."
Naia Kete said she appreciated how her coach respected her own sense of what kind of music would best suit her. "We went a back and forth about different song choices and some things I would just be like, 'You know what, Blake? I can't sing that' — but he really respected it," said Kete. "He respects me and I appreciate him for that. I try and be as open as possible, but he also tries to do his best to listen to his artists and when they're putting their foot down he gets it."
"He just kept reminding me to keep my confidence and reiterating that what I do is good," added Team Blake singer Jordis Unga. "I had to explain to him that I've gone through the ringer in the music business, so I needed reassurance. It's easy for him to be, like, 'No, that's awesome. You're good, right? You're fine?' I'm like, 'No — I need to hear that,' so he's been really good."
Charlotte Sometimes explained that Shelton taught her to "stop being so hard on myself. I'm perfectly fine the way that I am and to not apologize for being the sassy little devil that I am, because Blake gets me. He knows that I'm so full of s--- all of the time. I think he was trying to tell me, like, 'Don't be anybody you're not.'
Christian Milian, the show's Social Media Correspondent, revealed that for as much impact as the coaches have had on the contestant, the pros, too, have benefitted from the relationships.
"I think there have been a lot of surprises, even for the coaches," revealed Milian. "I think the fact that the contestant have been coming prepared — people like RaeLynn: at 17, comes and she's already got her song set up how she wants it done. It's like, 'Wait — where did this come from?' They have less work to do."
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