Kenzie Wheeler Brings a Fun-Loving George Strait Cover to ‘The Voice’ Finale [Watch]
During The Voice's semi-finals episode earlier in May, country traditionalist Kenzie Wheeler put his spin on George Jones' classic, "He Stopped Loving Her Today." Now, for the first night of the finale, Wheeler's reaching into the discography of another legendary George: George Strait.
Wheeler, who is the last contestant standing on Team Kelly this season, opened up the show on Monday night (May 24) with Strait's "Heartland." The fun, good-timing honky-tonk song gave the young artist a chance to show off his skills as an entertainer, moving around the stage and interacting both with the crowd and with the backing band.
Some viewers may recognize the fiddle player jamming along to Wheeler's performance: It's reigning CMA Awards Musician of the Year Jenee Fleenor, who has a long history of playing with Voice coach Blake Shelton as well as a number of other country A-listers, including Jon Pardi. Prior to her appearance on the show, Fleenor shared a goofy, behind-the-scenes social media post of the experience.
Strait originally released "Heartland" as part of Pure Country, his 1992 soundtrack album to the film of the same name. It was his second single off the project, and hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart in March of '93.
In her feedback after his performance, Clarkson praised Wheeler for using the song to emphasize his skills as a live entertainer. The performance also got glowing feedback from The Voice's resident country coach, Shelton, who told Wheeler that he'd managed to successfully put his own spin on the song -- no small accomplishment when the original artist is the King of Country Music himself.
Speaking of Shelton, it may come as a surprise to casual The Voice viewers that Wheeler isn't a member of Team Blake. Shelton actually made a bid to enlist Wheeler to join his crew early on in the season, but Clarkson used her block button to prevent Wheeler from making the obvious choice to join Team Blake — a decision she has since called her best-ever use of the block button.
However, fans shouldn't feel too bad for Shelton: He's got two finalists still on his team going into The Voice's two-party finale. Country-rock singer Jordan Matthew Young made it into the Top 5 at the last second at the end of the semi-finals, courtesy of a live, fan-voted Instant Save. He joins fellow Team Blake member Cam Anthony, while the three other coaches each have one contestant remaining in the running.
The Voice's two-part finale episode will continue on Tuesday night (May 25), airing at 8PM ET on NBC.
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