Aretha Franklin owned the title “Queen of Soul,” for good reason.
The Detroit native was electric, with power, substance, and the versality to sing anything from pop through to “Nessun Dorma,” famously stepping in for the late Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti at the 1998 Grammy Awards.
Franklin commanded respect. You don’t just go and cover one of her great R&B songs on national TV.
Kaylee Shimizu didn’t get the memo. And she sure didn’t need it.
When the Knockouts kicked off Monday night (Nov. 6) on NBC’s The Voice, Shimizu did no harm to her chances of progressing all the way in the competition with an explosive performance of “Ain’t No Way,” lifted from Franklin’s Lady Soul album from 1968.
The Team Legend singer hit all her runs, high notes, low notes, the lot. She was so good, and so audacious, rival coach Niall Horan spent a good chunk of the performance belly-laughing.
Shimizu has been laughing through this 24th season.
Hailing from Ewa Beach, Hawaii, the teen scored a four-chair turn during the auditions with a cover of the Beatles’ “Golden Slumbers,” a minutes-long flex with elite high notes, control and all the good stuff that captures the attention.
“We’re just stunned right now. Your voice was just dazzling, it was so creative it was so musical,” remarked Legend, prior to recruiting the 17-year-old to his team. “You know you could win The Voice, right,” he added. “You have so much confidence delivering these impossible notes.”
He’s not wrong.
Shimizu went up against Team Legend singers Caleb Sasser and Mara Justine, both of whom earned perfect four-chair turns during the auditions phase. She shone under those bright, Knockout lights.
“There’s a lot of richness and warmth and body to your voice,” Legend remarked. “It’s just supernatural that it comes out of your body at the same time. That you’re hitting those high notes…it’s actually insane.”
The Voice airs Mondays and Tuesdays on NBC and streams the following day on Peacock.