This Utah singer auditioned for ‘The Voice’ — and gave the state a special shoutout
EJ Michels sang praises of his home state, briefly turning his audition into an unofficial promo for Utah’s great outdoors
EJ Michels knew fairly early on that he had secured a spot in “The Voice” competition. Before Michels even hit the chorus of Adele’s “Easy On Me,” Chance the Rapper turned around for a chance to get the 31-year-old singer from Draper, Utah, on his team.
For a while, it looked like Michels would end up on Chance’s team by default — no other “Voice” coaches had turned around and the song was coming to an end. But with 10 seconds left in the performance, Blake Shelton — the one remaining original coach on the show, and the coach who has the most wins — turned around in his red swivel chair and put himself in the running.
And then the fight for Michels ensued.
EJ Michels’ ‘Voice’ audition turns into a promo for Utah’s great outdoors
As the coaches battled over Michels — who is the frontman and lead singer of the Utah-based band Foreign Figures — the artist sang praises of his home state, turning his audition into an unofficial promo for Utah’s great outdoors.
“I didn’t know where Utah was directionally,” Chance said after Michels noted that Draper was roughly a 10-hour drive from “The Voice” stage.
“It’s a fun place to go snowboarding,” “Voice” coach Kelly Clarkson added.
“Mountains, lakes, all four seasons — it literally has all of it,” Michels said.
“So America, make sure you visit Utah,” Chance concluded.
EJ Michels picks Blake Shelton as his ‘Voice’ coach
Michels received high praise from all of the coaches for his rendition of “Easy On Me,” which aired March 13. Chance complimented the singer’s upper-register, falsetto voice while Niall Horan regretted not turning around for the artist. Shelton called Michels’ voice “raw and honest.”
“Hi EJ, I know where Utah is. I’m gonna lead with that,” Shelton joked as he began his pitch to be Michels’ coach. “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.
“You can make me feel that, I can’t wait to see what you can do to America,” the country star added.
After some deliberation, Michels opted to join Team Blake — Shelton’s final team on “The Voice” as he steps down as a coach after this season.
In a recent Instagram post, Michels shared what it meant to get that last-minute turn from Shelton.
“All I could do was smile. Your love and support means to world to me,” he shared with his fans. “Even with the clammy hands, sleepless night before, and nerves, I am proud of stepping on that stage with confidence and singing my heart out.”
Who is EJ Michels on ‘The Voice’?
EJ Michels formed the alternative pop-rock band Foreign Figures with his brother, Steve Michels, in 2014. The band performs frequently throughout Utah, including at Velour in Provo.
“Big congratulations to long time friend of Velour, and Utah music scene veteran EJ Michels, for his standout performance on The Voice,” Velour owner Corey Fox recently wrote on Facebook. “It’s been a pleasure to watch you develop as a musician, singer, and as a person over the last several years. Excited to see what doors this opportunity might open for you and Foreign Figures!”
In a clip that aired during his “Voice” audition, Michels shared more about his background and upbringing in Utah. He noted that he was experiencing “inner turmoil” and was “struggling to love” himself around the time that Foreign Figures began to take off.
“The things you hear when it comes to LGBTQ individuals ... it was always with this negative undertone,” he said in the clip. “It really took a toll on my mental health, and I eventually got the courage to come out. ... It took a lot of vulnerability to open up to other people, and to uproot my entire life.
“Being able to be my full, true self on ‘The Voice’ stage, this is my time to share that positive message of acceptance and authenticity.”
This past season of “The Voice” also featured a singer from Utah. Sydney Kronmiller, a singer from Ogden, made it to the second round of the competition before being eliminated.
How to watch ‘The Voice’ 2023
“The Voice” airs Mondays and Tuesdays on NBC. Michels will appear in the show’s next round, the Battles, once the blind audition round concludes.