‘Voice’ celebs fight for Bria

Published 10:32 pm Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Bria Kelly performs in a pre-recorded session aired Monday on NBC's "The Voice." (Tyler Golden/NBC)

Bria Kelly performs in a pre-recorded session aired Monday on NBC’s “The Voice.” (Tyler Golden/NBC)

Smithfield student Bria Kelly said it was hard keeping her initial success on NBC’s “The Voice” under wraps, but the secret is out after her prerecorded opening session was aired Monday.

The Smithfield High School student, now 18 but aged 17 during the performance, belted out a raspy “Steamroller Blues,” leaving the show’s celebrity “coaches” — Usher, Shakira, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton — fighting to get her on their respective teams.

Not only did they all turn their seats, indicating they wanted her on their team, their standing ovation let the teen know they all considered her a true winner.


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“Ladies and gentleman, we have just heard ‘The Voice,’” said Usher, whose team Kelly decided to join, despite saying afterward that she had originally planned to go with Levine.

Moments later — after various compliments from the other coaches — Usher approached Kelly with one of his Grammy awards, telling her he’d like to help her get one.

While the other coaches bickered, Kelly told reporters Tuesday that Usher had zeroed in on the performance.

“He seemed really, really interested,” she said. “He was just, like, really into me as a performer. Then the Grammy kind of sold it after that.”

Kelly is competing in the series against seven other acts, including one duo. She told reporters her aim is to just “cut records,” and she spoke of tweaking her style to help make that happen.

“My biggest influence right now is ZZ Ward. I kind of want to have an R&B feel, (but) I’m going to try to do something that’s different,” she said.

After prerecording episodes of the show months ago, including Monday’s premiere, Kelly said she had a hard time keeping it secret. She didn’t quite succeed:

“I told a couple of class friends, who also had to keep it secret. We all had to keep quiet. It was hard walking around with this huge secret, because as a teenager in high school, you just want to tell the world.”

One of those friends who benefited from an early report, “Joey,” watched the performance live with Kelly’s parents.

She said her parents and the rest of her friends and family have been “super duper supportive. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve had one negative comment.”

Kelly said she had previously sung country music because she thought that’s what you did when you were from Virginia.

“I feel that where I’m meant to go isn’t country music, but something that’s going to be really, really cool to explore,” she added.

She also said that after the performance aired Monday, she went from 3,000 Twitter followers to 10,100.

“There’s tons of articles (online) and I haven’t really gotten a chance to read all of them,” she said. “It’s surreal.”

Kelly, who performs live locally, was also on NBC’s “American’s Got Talent” in 2012.