Brooke Simpson, one of the top contenders on NBC's national music competition "The Voice" and a former Lee University student, reached into her musical and religious background this …
Brooke Simpson, one of the top contenders on NBC's national music competition "The Voice" and a former Lee University student, reached into her musical and religious background this week.
Her performance among the TV show's Top 10 Monday evening was from her days growing up as a daughter of two Southern evangelists.
She sang "Amazing Grace," a favorite throughout the South's Bible Belt, and elsewhere across the nation.
It was also a favorite with viewers, as their vote from Monday's performances made her the first singer selected Tuesday to move forward into the Final 8.
Two of the 10 competitors, Ashland Craft and Shi'Ann Jones, were eliminated from competition in a sing-off Tuesday.
Simpson was also No. 2 on the iTunes chart this week.
Simpson's performance Monday evening was a definite change from her normal pop presentations, and a move initiated by her coach, Miley Cyrus.
Cyrus made the decision to move her “from mainstream current to completely traditional” music, and observers felt the experiment went well.
In interviews, Simpson explained that her connection to inspirational music is a deep one.
She was a ministry/music undergraduate at Lee, a focus for her plans when she left the school in 2013.
Monday night, her coach instructed her to start the song a cappella, to remind people that she is “the voice,” and then to modernize it a little once she was into it.
“Songs like this are the reason why I fell in love with music,” Simpson said. “My mom and dad are full-time evangelists. Growing up every weekend, we would travel from church to church and witness the power of music. Songs like ‘Amazing Grace’ let me know that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”
Cyrus also paid Simpson a nice compliment: “I hope America sees that Brooke is what ‘The Voice’ is all about: to discover amazing talent,” she said. “Brooke has the biggest voice in this competition.”
“I just want to get up there and in the most raw way possible, show my heart,” Simpson said.
The reception to the song was off the chart. Her mom and dad – Jimille and Mike Mills – were shown cheering and waving to Simpson from the audience. The two shared a hug to celebrate her win Tuesday.
All of the judges expressed their approval.
Jennifer Hudson said, “Girl ... the spirit is universal. Your heart. Not only your beautiful gift, but to sing from a place like that, to touch our hearts the way you just did, in your own way, from your own culture. And for all of that to come out, I’m just glad and grateful to be able to sit here and witness it – and glad to see a voice like yours get this type of platform.”
Blake Shelton: “This night has been stacking up like, it gets to a point where you’re like, OK, it can’t get much better. And Brooke, I gotta say, as an opposing coach, you just took it to the next level.”
Cyrus: “You just put like a giant band-aid on my broken heart from last week. I told you I could not lose another of my girls, I just love and care about my team so, so much. (Cyrus team member Janice Freeman was eliminated last week.) I know I’m not going to feel like that this week because, you are not going anywhere!"
Adam Levine also gave Simpson a "thumbs up."
Last week, in the Top 11, she sang "What About Us" by Pink. That song was described as a tribute to her Native American Heritage, with Native American drummers.
Now living in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Simspon is a member of the Haliwa-Saponi tribe.
Despite having Simpson as the top selection in Tuesday's voting, Cyrus fell behind in competition among the four coaches, as Simpson is the only competitor she has left.
Shelton leads the way with three remaining — Keisha Renee, Chloe Kohanski and Red Marlow. Levine has Addison Agen and Adam Cunningham, while Hudson has Noah Mac and Devon Fleming.
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