DRAPER, Utah (ABC4) — A Utahn made it on Season 23 of The Voice Monday, March 13, on Team Blake, and he talked about his life growing up in Draper.
EJ Michels, 31, auditioned Monday night and sang the song “Easy on Me” by Adele. Two teams turned around during the blind audition here: Team Blake, led by Blake Shelton and Team Chance, led by Chance the Rapper. Chance the Rapper is a first-time coach on The Voice.
Michels grew up playing classical piano with the Suzuki method, learning it by ear instead of reading music. In high school, he reportedly started singing and writing songs and formed the band Foreign Figures. They toured the country together and even played at a festival headlined by Kesha. The band still plays together while each band member pursues different career opportunities as well.
Michels grew up in Draper, Utah, a conservative and religious town. He said this caused him to suppress his feelings of being attracted to men, so much so that he even married a woman. However, after a year or so the marriage fell apart and Michels came out to his friends and family. He now lives with his partner and a Cavapoo dog, and is a “proud gay man.” Michels said he is making a living as a vocal coach and music artist.
Michels has 29 reviews as a vocal coach on thumbtack.com, and they are all five-star reviews.
One reviewer said, “There aren’t enough words to describe the endless gifts Eric Michels has as not only a musician, performer, vocalist producer songwriter, and I could go [on],” The reviewer said. “However, one gift that he has that is rare is his ability to teach others how to build and grow their own gifts so they can reach their potential. I know I wouldn’t be where I am without his guidance insight and direction!”
After Michels performed “Easy on Me,” in a blind audition, Chance the Rapper made his argument for why Michels should join his team. Chance said, “I knew you were a great instrumentalist before I turned around and saw you on the piano.” He said he knew this because of the way that Michels does vocal runs. He also said he liked Michels’ falsetto and his “heady upper-register voice.”
Chance also said he was impressed with Michels’ take on the Adele song and explained the direction he would take Michels if he joined his team.
“People that can actually attack and do well on an Adele song, I want to hear them sing some Maxwell, some D’Angelo, something cool on TV, something with a little flavor,” Chance said. “I think we can do great stuff together, and I cannot wait to be your coach.”
Blake Shelton was the one that turned around on Michels’ song, and he made an argument for why Michels should join Team Blake.
“Hi EJ, I know where Utah is, I’m gonna lead with that,” Shelton said. “Your voice is so raw and honest. Sometimes people come out here and there’s imperfections in their performance that just make you feel, as a listener, more of a connection. And there were times your voice was starting to break up a little bit, and all that did was create an angst in the performance, and emotionally kind of had me on the edge.”
Shelton continued and said that while Chance the Rapper is a great artist, “we don’t know crap about Chance the Coach.”
Kelly Clarkson, another judge on The Voice, piped in with her argument for Team Chance.
“I think it was pretty cool what Chance said about going that whole Maxwell route,” Clarkson said. “I think it’s cool because you just came out here, and you did a female powerhouse song, and I turned around and I just did not expect what you look like.”
Niall Horan, the fourth judge on The Voice, said he also agreed with Chance’s ideas of where he would take Michels. He also said he regretted not turning. Horan then asked who Michels would like to pick as his coach.
“This is really tough, this is really tough,” Michels said. “Man, I’m gonna have to go with Blake.”
To watch EJ Michels on The Voice, you can go to NBC.com, or watch clips from the show on The Voice channel on Youtube.