The hottest singing competition on TV hit the airwaves on monday night giving viewers some of the most jaw-dropping performances ever and it was only the 1st Battle Round! After four weeks of grueling blind auditions, the super star coaches chose two people from their teams to compete against each other in a duet format, ultimately giving the coaches the choice of who to eliminate from their own team. Talk about pressure! Also appearing this week were The Voice star advisors like, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Alanis Morissette, Kelly Clarkson, Jewel, Robin Thicke, Miranda Lambert, and Lionel Richie. Some of the Coaches decisions of the night were shocking but understandably difficult. Unfortunately, six contestants went home and six got to stay. The WhatItDo got the plug with exclusive interviews from Team CeeLo-Cheesa Laureta, Team Blake-Jordis Unga and Team Christina-Jesse Campbell.
TWID: Were any of you particularly surprised by who you were paired with?
Cheesa Laureta: A little bit, I was preparing myself to be paired with Wade or Jamar because I feel like they’re more my style, but it was very nerve-racking, Angie’s the beef when I first watched her in your audition I wasn’t expecting such a rock star, she owned the stage and she’s such a great singer, so I was definitely intimidated and scared but, you go. I just – she’s the beef – that’s all I can say.
Jesse Campbell: I wasn’t really expecting Anthony for whatever reason, I just knew that they wouldn’t put two Christian background performers together and when they did I’m like, “Oh well, it is what it is so let’s have fun with it,” so.
Jordis Unga: It was funny because Brian and I had become friends, you know, throughout this whole process, so I think as obvious as our pairing was, we were both, you know, hoping that our names wouldn’t be called together. So, you know, on one hand I don’t know – we didn’t want to battle each other. I think nobody wants to battle each other, but it was a pretty obvious pairing for Team Blake, so.
TWID: Your hit of the note baby cinched it. Was that something that was planned or was that spontaneous on your part?
Jesse Campbell: It was something that I did in rehearsal and again, it was a competitive thing and I didn’t want to give everything because I did do that in the beginning and you know Anthony is a great singer too and, you know, we kind of, you know, did one another’s runs and risks and dynamics one time each. So I was like okay. Well, you know, if Anthony can do what I do better than I do it then he needs to stay here. So I just decided to keep it the same during rehearsal but then when it came time to the stage performance, I just took it in a different pitch bah, bah, baby and just did it differently but hey, that’s it.
TWID: I was wondering if it was challenging for you to have a country vocalist like Miranda Lambert as a mentor when you specialize in rock music.
Jordis Unga: Well, I don’t think I necessarily specialize rock music and I actually had to have this conversation with Blake. I mean I think – I was raised on jazz and blues and Motown and stuff like that and I think that’s where I get a lot of my instincts as a singer. Country isn’t a far strength for me actually. I mean if you talk about Ray Charles or Johnny Cash or anything, I mean they all have a place in rock and I think, you know, when I get into my big high (screamy) notes or whatever, of course, you know, that sounds rock but I think I’m coming from – in my heart I’m coming from a place that is very blues. It didn’t phase me at all singing with a country singer and she’s such an amazing vocalist and when I walked into that to meet (Miranda), I actually was very nervous about the song and I had – I walked in there thinking I have a lot of work to do. You know, I just I hope I can get the work I need done, done and she was perfect. She was amazing. I loved singing with her and they gave me a lot of good tips. So the country thing has no bearing upon anything.
TWID: How hard was it to perform Total Eclipse of The Heart?
Cheesa Laureta: Yes. I’m Philipino and Total Eclipse of the Heart is one of the biggest karaoke number one songs to sing. So the first time (Sula) introduced it, he was like, “You might not know this song. It’s a little bit too old for you,” and I was like, “Okay. Try me.” And he told me it was Total Eclipse of the Heart. I was pretty (stoked) because I knew the song and I knew I could potentially sing it really well but it was definitely nerve-racking during rehearsal. We put it up one step higher, one key higher, and I was nervous as you could because watching it last night, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to hit that note and if I didn’t, it would be a total fail. I’ll be looking like a, you know, an idiot for bringing it up a key step to higher but I definitely love the song. It’s an epic song and I think both (Angie) and I gave a great performance with the song choice.
TWID: How does the Hawaiian culture impact you through this competition?
Cheesa Laureta: Being from Hawaii you learn to support everybody and be strong and good. That’s the Aloha. I was hawaiianed out and I think that’s what people in the states do because I’m Filipino but I was born and raised in Hawaii and it taught me to just be humble and just embrace all of the talent that’s there in the competition. Learn from the experience and grow. So definitely rooting and going for team Hawaii. Let’s do it.
TWID: Jordis, What is it about your Tongan culture and heritage that keeps you pushing through this competition?
Jordis Unga: My dad is going to be so happy you asked me that question. I’m so proud. My family is so proud that I get to be involved in something like this. I sat up all night last night with my dad talking about my grandpa. We wish he was here. My grandma Toa’ila is 98 years old. I wish I still have a lot of family back on the island. They’re all watching from New Zealand and everywhere. My Tongan culture is so embedded in my heart and in my music and everything. I think there’s a light in my heart that comes from the island girl in me that really gives me strength for something like this and I think you know what I mean does that make sense to you? You know what I’m talking about the island girl thing.
Jordis Unga: Chessa girl you know too.
Jordis Unga: So when I see on my Twitter when I get comments about, teampoly, when I’m getting acknowledged from that side, it’s really heartwarming to me because I grew up in Minnesota. I’m half Swedish. I can follow a conversation in Tongan but I can’t talk back. To get acknowledgement from the Tongan community has been absolutely overwhelming and I’m so glad that I get to talk to you today and tell all of my tongans everywhere ‘ofa atu.
Jordis Unga: I just got during this break a new tatau on my hip for my grandpa who was a survivor on the Minerva Reef. It means slow but sure and that is my motto through the rest of this thing as far as I go.
TWID: Wow. So your grandfather was a survivor on the Minerva Reef?
Jordis Unga: Yes. He was one of the survivors.
TWID: Is that your motivation through this whole process?
Jordis Unga: Absolutely. I mean we always have to talk about grandpa whenever we do anything that’s trying or difficult. If he could survive on that reef for as long as he did then we can do anything.
So there you have it! These contestants are digging real deep to inspire, motivate and keep afloat during this competition. Jesse of Team Christina says, “I just decided to keep it the same during rehearsals but then when it came time to the stage performance, I just took it in a different pitch.” In other words, he rehearsed what he was going to do and then kicked it up a notch on the stage. That’s how you stay breathing on a show like The Voice. Cheesa of Team CeeLo & Jordis of Team Blake have the island element reminding them of their roots and culture which is keeping them humble and grounded of how to survive. Jordis uses her Grandfather’s example, “If he could survive on that reef for as long as he did then we can do anything.” Now, that’s WhatItDo!
Article Written By: RAEN
*photos courtesy of Lewis Jacobs/NBC