The blind audition rounds of The Voice took on a new meaning on Monday with the show’s first blind singer.
Nigerian-born Blessing Offor, 25, blew away all four judges who turned to try to get him on their teams after his stunning rendition of the Bill Withers soul classic Just the Two of Us.
And after he admitted that he could not see the judges, Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine happily told him: ‘I got some good news for you man — we all turned around!’
Blind singer: Blessing Offor picked Pharrell Williams on Monday night’s episode of The Voice after all four judges turned around for him
‘Oh shoot!’ replied Blessing, who was born blind in one eye and then lost sight in the other when he was accidentally shot by a water pistol, detaching his retina.
Despite his soul sound, Blessing had entered the competition determined to wind up on Blake Shelton’s team as he has spent time living in Nashville to connect with songwriters there.
But he eventually ended up picking Pharrell Williams as his coach after the Happy star said he was excited at the blend of country and soul he was suggesting.
Compelling argument: Pharrell lobbied hard for Blessing to join his team
‘I know a couple of things about mixing genres,’ Pharrell said, with Blessing later revealing: ‘I picked Pharrell because his track record is undeniable. Dreams do come true, guys!’
Blessing, who moved to the United States as a young boy to get treatment from congenital glaucoma before fully losing his sight in the water pistol accident, had a philosophical take on losing his sight.
‘I was left with no vision and had to figure out what God meant by this,’ he said. ‘But on the other hand it made me do all this with music.
Top talent: Blessing initially said he planned on joining Blake’s team if he had the chance but picked Pharrell
‘Music has been the north star, it’s been the thing I’ve wanted to do no matter what’s going on in my life.’
Another of the contestants to get all four judges turning was also oblivious – because she was so into her performance she did not realize they all buzzed at the very last moment.
‘I didn’t know they’d all turned around – my eyes were closed!’ admitted California schoolgirl Mia Pfirrman, 19, after her rousing version of Katy Perry’s Unconditionally.
Mia had gone in expecting to pick Pharrell – but ultimately went on Team Adam after the Maroon 5 frontman told her that her best moments were ‘world class spectacular’.
Mia’s parents had both been in a band, September, in the 1980s, but gave it up to raise their family.
Four chairs: Mia Pfirrman got all four judges to turn around for her version of a Katy Perry song
‘My parents gave up everything that they loved for me and my family,’ she said before her performance. ‘I think if I got a chair to turn around it would almost be like me carrying out their dream.’
The final four-chair selection of the night was even more moved because she had auditioned in season three – and was left suffering stage fright for years after none of the coaches turned for her.
But after Jamaican singer Anita Antoinette’s beautiful performance of Bob Marley’s Turn Your Lights Down Low, starting with just her on guitar, Blake and Gwen Stefani turned almost instantly, joined by Pharrell and Adam just moments later.
Gwen won her on her team after making her strongest bid of the night for a contestant, telling her: ‘I love you. If you don’t pick me I’m gonna steal you eventually.’
She’s back: Anita Antoinette returned to The Voice and landed on Gwen’s team
She also teased her fellow coaches for ejecting her last time, asking: ‘What have you been doing since Blake and Adam didn’t choose you?’
‘I think I would have probably picked you then, I would have had that instinct,’ Gwen insisted with a smile.
Gwen – who danced with delight after being picked – later insisted it was a ‘perfect’ pairing.
Quick wit: Gwen used her charm and quick wit to win over contestants
Sitting with her son in her arms, Gwen said: ‘I named my son Kingston after Kingston, Jamaica, so I feel that Anita and I are meant to be. It’s perfect.’
Anita, 24, who now lives in Boston, admitted: ‘I felt I was going with Adam, I really did, but felt more of a connection with Gwen in that moment.’
Once again, Blake and Adam admitted to feeling real pressure from Gwen and Pharrell and how good they are on the show.
Tough season: Blake predicted a tough season with Gwen and Pharrell as new mentors
‘There’s no doubt in my mind that having Gwen and Pharrell on The Voice this is going to be the toughest season yet,’ Blake said, while Adam also admitted to being ‘threatened and intimidated’ by the new coaches because they are ‘so good, so fast’.
He even for ‘the first time in the history of The Voice’ suggested one contestant should pick Blake as his coach, even though they are usually rivals, later joking: ‘I felt dirty afterwards.’
That contestant, forklift driver John Martin, 25, of Chicago, made an even bigger impression when the blind part of the audition was over.
‘I don’t really know for sure, but I’m thinking this is a good lookin’ man,’ Blake said.
‘There is something so cool and so laid back about what you do. I am absolutely onboard with it.’
Adam also admitted he assumed he was a male model – and then teased Gwen for the way she used the words ‘delicious, creamy and package’ in describing him.
‘My parents are watching this!’ Gwen protested. ‘Sorry mum and dad.’
Model looks: John Martin received high praise from the judges
Troy Ritchie, 21, of Trabuco Canyon, California, had a similar response when Gwen was the only one to turn for him after his rocking version of the Fitz And The Tantrums track Out Of My League.
‘Gwen Stefani likes you – that’s gotta be exciting for a dude from California,’ Adam teased him. ‘You’re awesome.’
And even though he did not make it through, young farmer Cole Wilkinson, 16, of Texas, was told he was ’totally cute’ by the No Doubt singer after his audition.
‘Gwen thinks your cute, bro!’ Adam told him excitedly, with the coaches encouraging him to come back and try again.
Bree Fondacaro, 24, of Orange County, California, was watched on by her family, including dad Sal, a little person who is a professional music teacher.
After her sultry version of Bob Dylan’s It Ain’t Me Babe, Blake pressed and won her on his team, with Gwen admitting: ‘I was so close!’
She made it: Bree Fondacaro got Blake to turn around and joined his team
Jessie Pitts, 18, from Birmingham, Alabama, told of how she suffered horrible third-degree burns on her face as a child that she had to ‘scrub every night’.
‘It was painful … but I was a happy kid,’ she said, getting Gwen and Blake to turn for her performance of Brandi Carlile’s The Story.
While Blake tried to win her over by sharing that Brandi sang it at his wedding, she ended up with Gwen after the singer told her: ‘I loved your voice – it was like an angel! If you were on Team Gwen it would be so much fun!’
Angelic voice: Jessie Pitts went with Gwen after getting her and Blake to turn
New York busker Ricky Manning, 19, was compared to a ‘young Joaquin Phoenix’ by Adam but had Pharrell and Blake battling for him after his version of John Newman’s Love Me Again.
He picked Pharrell after he told him: ‘To me you’re going to kill everything, man. I know what to do with that.’
But Pharrell then pointed out that Blake did, too – confusing his rival coach.
‘You can’t be that nice all the time,’ Blake said, accusing him of secretly ‘poisoning me’.
But when Pharrell insisted he was, Blake quipped: ‘I guess I’m used to Adam.’
Team Pharrell: Ricky Manning chose Pharrell after Adam compared him to a young Joaquin Phoenix
Adam, Gwen and Blake all turned for single mum Kelli Douglas, 31, after her version of Kenny Loggins classic Danny’s Song, despite her stage freight showing through at the beginning.
‘You were nervous,’ Adam told her, adding: ‘But look at that smile, I love you. That’s something we’ve got to work on and I’m excited to do that.’
Blake, who called her voice ‘mysterious and haunting’, was thrilled for his rival when Adam won her. ‘I’m happy for Adam – he needed a really good one, and he got one with her.’