‘The Voice’ Hopeful Kenzie Wheeler Nails a George Jones Classic During Live Top 9 Performances [Watch]
Kenzie Wheeler, a Season 20 The Voice hopeful representing Team Kelly, lent his signature country vocal stylings to a song that is arguably George Jones' best-known hit of all time. He sang the 1980 mega-hit "He Stopped Loving Her Today" during the show's Monday night episode (May 17).
Wheeler's Jones cover came during the show's semi-finals episode, where the Top 9 contestants of the season sang live performances for viewers' votes. Following the show, the nine Voice hopefuls still in the running would be whittled down to five.
During his performance, Wheeler leaned hard into the traditional country element of the song, even expertly pulling off the speak-singing portion before the final chorus. His version of "He Stopped Loving Her Today" earned the young singer unanimous praise from all four coaches, including his own coach, Kelly Clarkson, who called him one of her favorite country singers ever — even out of the genre's A-listers, including her fellow coach, Blake Shelton.
Speaking of Shelton, it may come as a surprise to casual The Voice viewers that Wheeler isn't a member of Team Blake. In fact, Shelton 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.
Wheeler consistently brings top-notch country performances to The Voice's stage, including covers of songs by Brooks & Dunn, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Keith Whitley. Whether or not his Jones cover is enough to send him through to the next round will be revealed on Tuesday night (May 18), when The Voice's Top 5 contestants are announced.
Jones' recording of "He Stopped Loving Her Today" earned the country superstar something of a career resurgence, as it became his first No. 1 hit in six years, won him a Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance and led to a renewed record deal for the singer. The song became one of Jones' signature performances, so much so that Alan Jackson would ultimately sing it as a tribute at the country legend's funeral in 2013.
The Voice Stars, Then + Now: