When the 16-year-old singer from Utah hit an especially raspy note during the final seconds of performing Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect,” both Nick Jonas and Blake Shelton turned their chairs to get a shot at snagging him.
John Legend, who said he didn’t “have a dog in this fight,” encouraged the young singer to go with Jonas.
But for Brusa, the decision wasn’t just about Jonas and Shelton.
”If you don’t choose me as your coach, this puppy’s going to go straight back to the animal shelter,” said Shelton, who was cuddling a cute dog that conveniently wound up on stage not long after Legend’s dog remark.
So how did Shelton’s puppy maneuver weigh into Brusa’s decision-making?
“I figured the dog wasn’t going to go back to the pound if I didn’t pick Blake. And originally I thought I was going to get the dog if I were to pick him, but then I realized that was a bit of a stretch,” Brusa told the Deseret News. “I was amazed and honored that he turned around, but I had to go with Nick.”
The singer’s love for Jonas runs deep. When the Jonas Brothers came to Salt Lake City in fall 2019, Brusa’s dad bought front row seats for the concert. But that October show came right around the time Brusa needed to head to California to prepare for his “Voice” audition.
“I said, ‘It’s OK, Nick Jonas is going to be a judge. I know I’m missing out on the concert, but he’s going to be listening to me sing.”
But Jonas did a lot more than listen — he ended up seeing potential in Brusa.
Jonas told Brusa that he liked the “fight” in his voice, and gave the singer some on-the-spot vocal coaching during the audition. And he played Brusa’s guitar.
“That’s my claim to fame,” Brusa said with a laugh. “It was all kind of a blur, but I remember looking over at my parents and my family and they were all freaking out. And looking back, it was pretty lucky. Not many other people can say that that happened to them.”
Although Brusa grew up singing and playing a few instruments, he’s never had real vocal training (the raspy quality of his voice, he said, comes from his early childhood days of constantly screaming and annoying his two older sisters). So getting some advice from Jonas, one of his musical heroes, right off the bat was a bonus.
“He’s such a nice guy, really genuine. And I mean, everyone saw it on TV — he really wants to help me improve my singing, my stage presence and (make sure I’m) putting on the best performance,” said Brusa, who is a sophomore at Highland High School.
So far, Brusa is one of the youngest contestants on “The Voice” this season. Making it on the show didn’t give him a homework pass, so he still had to keep up with his studies. But according to Brusa, only his high school principal was allowed to know where he really was during his absence.
So while “The Voice” contestant was hanging out with Jonas, his classmates thought he was at a music camp.
Which wasn’t entirely wrong.
Getting onto “The Voice” has been surreal for Brusa, who has watched the show with his family since it first aired in 2011. Although Monday night’s season 18 premiere marked one of the series’ lower-rated premieres, it still brought in nearly 9 million viewers.
On YouTube, Brusa’s “Voice” audition has more than 2.5 million views. And as the audition clip proves, Jonas seems to be Shelton’s new frenemy — a role that for 16 seasons belonged to Adam Levine, who left the show last year.
“When I found out Nick Jonas was a judge, I knew that I wanted to be on his team if I had the chance,” Brusa said. “But at that point, anyone who would’ve turned around, I was extremely grateful for.”