Twenty-year-old Christian Cuevas wowed judges during his blind audition for the Season 11 premiere of The Voice, becoming what looks like a sudden fan favorite.
In the Voice universe, blind auditions work by affording the contestant a chance to impress the judges with their vocal chops while their backs are turned to them – a move away from the superficial downsides of shows like American Idol. Once a judge decides they want the singer on their "team," they can turn their chair around to face the hopeful with the press of a button.
Cuevas, an Orlando resident and Rollins College music student, wasn't even 10 seconds into his rendition of Michael Bolton's "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You" before country singer Blake Shelton and Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine turned around to meet the face behind the voice.
Just 40 seconds later, R&B singer Alicia Keys pressed her button. She compared his emotion to her own when her career began at 19 years old.
When she asked him where his sound came from, Cuevas said, "Thinking about my dad. He passed away about a year ago."
Levine praised the "thick, incredible quality" of his voice. Singer Miley Cyrus explained that she did not feel like the right coach for his voice, justifying her unturned chair.
Cuevas has auditioned for the reality competition show before. Shortly after discovering his father was ill, he stood in line in Louisiana a couple of years ago to no avail. "I actually didn’t pass my first audition and it was definitely heartbreaking. I didn’t think i was ever gonna do it again," he told us today in a phone interview. In December, producers reached back out to him through his YouTube account. "They told me if I could make it out to Memphis, I got a callback," Cuevas says.
Putting his studies on hold for the show doesn't seem to bother him for the time being. "My teachers are supporting me a hundred percent of the way. I know there’s a future for my education, whether it’s at Rollins or somewhere else. I know they're always gonna support me," he says.
Cuevas chose Keys as his coach after about 20 seconds of deliberation.
You can follow the rest of Cuevas' story Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on NBC's The Voice.