Grace West paid a special tribute to Reba McEntire during part one of the two-night Season 23 The Voice finale on Monday evening (May 22).
The 19-year-old country singer from Canton, Mich., opened the broadcast by channeling the 68-year-old icon’s version of Bobby Russell’s “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia.” McEntire recorded the song for her 1991 album, For My Broken Heart, and the tune went on to reach the Top 12 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.
Taking the stage, West wore a bright red pantsuit. She accessorized her look with a matching wide-brimmed hat and dangly earrings, which stood out as she walked the stage while surrounded by red, cascading curtains. The finalist and front-runner provided her rendition of the moody story song with ease and used her full voice, which earned her an eruption of cheers from the studio audience.
“I grew up on that song. I love hearing you sing. We’ve never heard you sing this kind of song before,” Kelly Clarkson commented. “You have pretty falsetto, but you also have a lot of power.”
“This season has been such a short season,” Shelton added. “We haven’t gotten to see the artists do everything they can do, but I thought it was really important and a good move for you to do something up-tempo… the way you were able to flow through it and play with it in the pocket a little bit towards the end, it was incredible!”
West’s performance of the McEntire classic was just one of three songs she will sing before she finds out her fate on The Voice. She will return again to deliver a performance of Patsy Cline’s “She’s Got You.” She is also set to take the stage with her coach Shelton for a very special performance, which has not yet been announced.
West’s onstage spectacular with Shelton is especially sweet, as he will soon be retiring from his chair on the show after a 12-year run. Shelton announced he will be departing The Voice in October of 2022, writing, “I’ve been wrestling with this for a while, and I’ve decided it’s time for me to step away from The Voice after Season 23. This show has changed my life in every way for the better, and it will always feel like home to me. It’s been a hell of a ride over these 12 years of chair turns….” in an Instagram post.
The Voice announced in mid-May that McEntire would be permanently filling in for Shelton’s role — an offer she received before the show’s inception in 2011. While she didn’t take the role at the time, she did guest star on the program as an advisor for Shelton’s team during the inaugural season of The Voice. She also returned for Season 23 as a Mega Mentor for all of the coaches, consisting of Shelton, Niall Horan, Chance the Rapper and Clarkson.
“I’m looking forward to being here with y’all. You treated me so nicely,” McEntire said in a previous episode of The Voice. “I appreciate the hospitality so much that you showed me earlier, and to be able to come in and form my team, I’m so looking forward to it.”
McEntire will take up her red chair for Season 24 alongside coaches Gwen Stefani, Niall Horan and John Legend. Season 24 of The Voice will premiere in the fall of 2023. In the meantime, West is vying for a shot at winning it all alongside fellow Team Blake member NOIVAS, Team Clarkson’s D Smooth, Team Niall’s Gina Miles and Team Chance’s trio, Sorelle.
Fans will find out who has been named the winner when the Season 23 finale of The Voice airs Tuesday (May 23) at 9PM ET on NBC.