[Watch] An emotional John Legend cover brings out the tears — and the steals

An emotional John Legend cover brings out the tears — and the steals! — during The Voice Knockouts

Send a box of tissues directly to Reba McEntire’s chair.

It’s nice when something that feels meant to be works out in the end, isn’t it? It was certainly the case for The Voice season 25 contestant Kamalei Kawa’a and his time during the Knockouts, which came to a close this evening (fare thee well, Mega Mentor Keith Urban!).

Team Chance had the first Knockout slot of the night. Chance the Rapper used it as an opportunity to pair R&B pop singer Maddi Jane against the angel voice from Hawaii, Kamalei Kawa’a. Going into rehearsals, Chance was aware that these two were “top tier” and “some of the best all-time Team Chance talent.”

Maddi and Kamalei couldn’t be any more different in their approach to performing: Maddi is “explosive” and energetic with a huge range. Kamalei, meanwhile, has been more soft-spoken and still since the Blinds, letting his heart and emotion come through in his vocals. Their choice of songs this round also point to their marked differences: Maddi goes with Dua Lipa bop “New Rules” and Kamalei goes with the swoony John Legend classic “All of Me.” While Chance and Keith advise Maddi to skip the rapping and focus on showing off her big vocals, Keith tells Kamalei to go even softer and more tender because he’s “gonna pull [him] in with [his] voice and heart, because they’re completely one.” The country star clearly realizes Kamalei’s secret weapon. This Knockout will come down to who pulls a perfect performance off and seems the most ready to move into the Playoffs. Still, Chance already thinks there’s a good chance whoever he doesn’t pick will get stolen.

0:00 / 7:26 Maddi Jane và Kamalei Kawa'a mang đến những màn trình diễn NĂNG LƯỢNG và BỔ SUNG ngang nhau | Loại bỏ bằng giọng nói

Kamalei Kawa’a during the Knockouts.

Both Maddi and Kamalei do exactly as rehearsed and make Chance’s job as hard as possible here. Maddi’s stage presence could be a big advantage in the eventual Live Rounds, so it doesn’t seem off-base for Chance to hand her the win.

But Kamalei has nothing to be disappointed about. During critiques, John himself notes how hard he usually is on people who cover his songs, but calls Kamalei’s version “so beautiful.” He goes on: “The whole demeanor with which you carry yourself with, like gratitude and your spirit, we feel that and it comes through in your voice as well.” When his own coach is praising him for his ability to take a John Legend hit and make it his own, Kamalei says “it makes it easy when you have a beautiful wife” to sing it to, and if you didn’t like the guy before, you certainly do by this point.

Kamalei is in tears thanking Chance for “the moments [he] gave [him]” on The Voice stage. Before you know it, both John and Reba McEntire have pushed their steal buttons to try and get Kamalei on their teams. Kamalei has tears streaming down his face, beyond excited to continue his time on this show.

You know who else is crying at this point? Mama Reba. She can barely get her pitch out, but she wants Kamalei to know that “the greatest singers in the world sometimes don’t touch my heart. You’ve got a big heart and you share it with people.” Reba is moved by Kamalei and the way he connects with a song and audience. She is several tissues deep at this point.

And still, Kamalei chose “All of Me” because it is the exact lane of music he wants to pursue. John, continually impressed with Kamalei’s authenticity and vulnerability, says what we’re all thinking: Kamalei winding up on Team Legend “would be the most poetic outcome to this moment.” And in the end, we get some poetry. Kamalei joins Team Legend and even Reba can admit that “it was meant to be.”

The Voice airs Mondays and Tuesdays on NBC.

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