By now, seasoned viewers of reality singing competitions know to pay special attention to the end of any audition episode — producers generally save that slot for their favorite contestant. Indeed, in the last few minutes of “The Voice” Season 15 premiere on Monday, the producers truly delivered.
“Let’s check in with the final artist of the night,” host Carson Daly informed the audience, and introduced Kennedy Holmes, a 13-year-old from St. Louis.
A few minutes later, young Holmes would make the celebrity coaches/judges lose their minds. But first, viewers were treated to a fairly standard prerecorded introduction of Holmes, the youngest singer to audition this season. Holmes said she’s a typical middle school student: She loves dancing, playing volleyball, running track and recording goofy videos in the car with her mom.
Then, the producers cut to her standing on the stage. She started singing Adele’s “Turning Tables.” And she sounded like this:
Everyone freaked out over Holmes’s near-flawless performance. All four judges slammed their buttons so the chairs could spin around, and they prepared to fight it out to persuade Holmes to join their respective teams. Holmes’s parents and brother, standing to the side of the stage, were stunned.
The coveted “four-chair turn” on “The Voice” is one thing. But it’s highly unusual for a contestant to inspire such an intense reaction, particularly from jaded celebrities who have been on this show for years. After Kelly Clarkson literally had to take a walk to calm down after learning Holmes’s age, Adam Levine said as much.
“Very, very rarely does someone come around that kind of reignites our passion for what we do. And to hear you sing today did that,” Levine said. “Just to see that kind of confidence naturally exist in you at such a young age, it’s unheard of. After the 15 seasons, you really could become the absolute biggest thing to ever come from this show.”
Blake Shelton agreed. “Let me be the first to thank you for coming to ‘The Voice,’ ’cause our ratings are going to shoot through the roof this evening. I think you are the best vocalist that has auditioned this year,” he said. “I want you to pick me as your coach so you can teach me how to sing like that.”
Clearly, the producers knew they had something special — a week before the premiere, they released a preview of Holmes’s audition, though they cut it off when she was about to choose her coach.
The choice was obvious: Holmes, remarkably poised through her audition, burst into tears as soon as Jennifer Hudson started talking to her. Trying to gather her composure, Holmes said that in one of her first performances at school, she sang “I Am Changing,” which Hudson’s character performed in “Dreamgirls.”
“I’ve dreamed to sing with you,” Holmes said.
“I’m ready!” Hudson replied. She walked to the stage and gave Holmes a hug, and the two of them sang a brief, impromptu performance of “I Am Changing.” Holmes’s parents — and Clarkson — started crying.
“It was an honor and a pleasure just to sing with you,” Hudson said.
Clearly, Holmes chose Hudson as her coach. Hudson was thrilled. “I think the game is over because I just won ‘The Voice’ with little Miss Kennedy. Yes, I did,” she said triumphantly.
The other coaches didn’t argue. “You win. It’s over,” Levine said.
“She’s so good,” Clarkson added.
Shelton, a six-time winner, concurred: “You just won ‘The Voice.’ ”