Abbeville’s Koryn Hawthorne and Ponchatoula native Meghan Linsey have reached “The Voice” finals.
The two, along with folk rocker Joshua Davis, of Travese City, Michigan, and souful teen Sawyer Fredericks, of Fultonville, New York, will find out Tuesday night who’s the next “The Voice.”
The singing competition series is wrapping up its eighth season on NBC.
On last week’s show, the 17-year-old Hawthorne returned to her Acadiana hometown to a day of fanfare.
“It was just a whole bunch of craziness, but excitement and just fun,” Hawthorne said, after being greeted by the high school marching band, cheerleaders and fans waving “We love Koryn” posters at her alma mater, Abbeville High School.
Up on the big screen in the gym was the first “American Idol” winner, Kelly Clarkson, who congratulated the teen singer on her “Voice” journey.
A parade through town followed, with Hawthorne perched on a float. She later performed with the Lighthouse for Jesus choir under a huge oak tree. The contestant’s mom, Summers Simon, and dad, Corey Hawthorne, watched with pride.
Back on “The Voice” stage in Hollywood, Hawthorne, whose powerhouse vocals bring to mind a young Whitney Houston, sang U2’s “One,” a song about social injustice, and the enduring spiritual “Oh Mary, Don’t You Weep.”
“I can say that you have learned a lot, but I think personally I have learned way more from you, being 17 years old … yes, please applaud … and fearlessly coming out here every week with a song that inspires people regardless of genre, that is the true definition of being an inspirational singer, and, for me, you’ve already won this thing,” coach Pharrell “Happy” Williams said of his youngest team member.
Her stirring rendition of “Oh Mary” brought more praise from Williams.
“After seeing that performance, it’s like you realize that the impossible is just a word, because it can be done,” he said. “And dreams can come true, and honestly, what you just did showed everybody back home the reason why not only should they vote, but anything is possible when you put God first.”
Linsey, 29, formerly part of the country duo Steel Magnolia, has transitioned to more of a soul sound while still holding on to some of her country roots. Her “home” visit was to Nashville, where she’s lived the past 11 years while pursuing her now-solo career. Being in Music City has allowed Linsey to connect with well-known country stars. Naomi Judd stopped by a party thrown for Linsey on her visit, commenting, “This girl was born to sing”; while Big & Rich shared the Wildhorse stage with her later that night.
Returning to the competition, she performed Sam Smith’s “I’m Not the Only One” and later, George Jones’ “Tennessee Whiskey.”
“I get so excited any time I know you’re about to perform, because it’s almost a guarantee that it’s going to be something great that you do on stage every time you get up there,” country star and coach Blake Shelton said after “Only One.” “I think my favorite thing about you as an artist is, Meghan is 29 years old, but it’s like she came from a different time. I mean there’s something about her that is so vintage that she’s bringing to current music, like a song like that, that is just absolutely amazing and priceless.”
Linsey’s “Whiskey” likewise hit the spot for Shelton.
“I can’t even contain myself right now because I know what just happened,” he said. “That was so special. You just engaged all the country music fans out there across the country, and you’ve already engaged all the new fans you’ve made during your journey on this show. That is by far your most important performance on this show so far.”
Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine coaches Davis, while Williams is also mentoring Fredericks.
Louisianians eliminated earlier in the season were Rob Taylor, of Donaldsonville; Tonya Boyd-Cannon, of New Orleans; and Lafayette’s Travis Ewing.