‘The Voice’: Former Tube Driver From England Wows With Old-School Country Hit [Watch]
Season 23 of The Voice has officially begun, and it’s already looking like Blake Shelton is stacking his team with potential superstars.
One contestant who landed on Team Blake during the first episode of the season was a country rocker named Alex Whalen. During the two-hour telecast, which aired on Monday night (March 6), Whalen, a talented hopeful from London, England, revealed that he is 43 years old. However, he explained that while he considers himself one of the older contestants on the show, he wants viewers to know that it’s never too late to chase your dreams.
“I have worked underground for 18 years as a tube driver,” Whalen shared of his former London-based job in a pre-recorded clip ahead of his blind audition. “The hardest part of the job, depending on the shift, is that you can go to work in the dark, spend all day in the dark, come home in the dark, and not see the sun for a week. Coming to Hollywood was something I dreamed of while being in front of the train. But I never dared myself to think that it would happen."
Whalen went on to say that he now resides in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., and is following his dreams, playing 5-6 four-hour shows each week. But, those restaurant and bar performances haven’t allowed him to introduce himself to a wider audience.
“I’m hoping that this is the change that I am looking for,” he told viewers of his opportunity to be on The Voice.
Taking the stage, Whalen’s London accent nearly disappeared as he put a unique male spin on Sammi Smith’s 1970 country ballad, “Help Me Make It Through the Night.” Drawing surprising looks from the coaches — which consisted of Shelton, Kelly Clarkson, Chance the Rapper and Niall Horan — Whalen earned comments throughout his performance.
“That’s old school,” Horan said, commenting on the song choice, while Clarkson added, “Pretty voice!”
However, the two coaches did not turn around. Instead, Shelton and Chance the Rapper were seen swiveling their chairs around for the contender, who donned a long braided beard, shades and a cowboy hat.
“You have a gorgeous voice. When you go low, you're a superpower, man. That storyteller in you. It’s really nice,” Clarkson complimented Whalen before showing her support for Chance the Rapper. “I'm so stoked to see you work with Chance. It’s the coolest thing ever.”
That’s when Horan chose to stand behind Shelton.
“Before Blake turned he was singing every word,” Horan said, fighting for Whalen to join Shelton’s team. “He was all over it from minute one. I feel like this is right up his strato.”
“All these years I’ve never had a chance to work with a country singer from London,” Shelton added. “I like it, Alex. I like it a lot, and you braided your beard nicely for television…. I’m gonna go ahead and say it. Listen, man. This is my last season as a coach on the show. I want you on my last team.”
Chance the Rapper then intervened with, “This is actually my last season too. I’m just kidding, but I honestly think that your voice is so unique, man. You’re a natural tenor, but I mean, you can move around. Then I like your swag. I like the hat. I like the glasses. I think that you could do well with Chance the Rapper.”
After much thought, Whalen chose to go with Team Blake — a move that will likely serve him well, as the veteran coach has won nine seasons so far.
The Voice airs Monday and Tuesday nights on NBC.