The young singer from Utah taped his performances for the NBC singing competition in fall 2019 and has watched them unfold over the past two months on TV. But he still has a hard time recalling everything the show’s judges said to him.
But he does remember one thing pretty clearly: Kelly Clarkson told him he was cute.
And she said she liked a low note he hit during his Battle round performance, which aired March 30 to more than 9 million viewers.
“I thought it was pretty cool that Kelly called me cute,” Brusa told the Deseret News. “And I think she said something like, ‘I’m scared for you for the finale,’ or something like that. I don’t remember exactly her words.”
Here’s what Clarkson actually said: “You’re 16 walking around with that rasp! I can’t stand you; you’re so cute. Was that you at the very end with the bass note? Alright, son. I’m a little worried about you for the finale — not going to lie, Tate.”
Brusa — a raspy singer who is a sophomore at Highland High School in Salt Lake City — is one of the youngest contestants on this season of “The Voice.” But his age has yet to put him at a disadvantage. He continues to impress the judges. In one Battle round episode, Nick Jonas chose to keep the young Brusa on the show and send home 36-year-old Anders Drerup.
Brusa and Jonas have formed a strong connection on the show. During the Battle round, the 27-year-old singer/actor told Brusa: “There’s something about you that I’m drawn to. Perhaps it’s your care for your craft at such a young age. Because maybe I see a little bit of myself in you.”
Jonas is the youngest of the four “Voice” judges. He was a teenager when he was first offered a recording contract. Getting advice from Jonas on how to handle voice changes and navigate the music industry at a young age has been a dream come true for Brusa, who is a longtime fan of the Jonas Brothers.
“Having him actually say that he saw himself in me was pretty cool,” Brusa said. ‘Those were his words. Someone that you’ve looked up to and loved, and loved their music, it’s pretty overwhelming when they say something like that to you.”
The 16-year-old singer had two weeks to prepare for the Battle round. During that time, Jonas held practice sessions with Brusa and Drerup. For one session, “The Voice” coach even brought in his two older brothers, Kevin and Joe. That was a highlight for Brusa, who turned down front-row seats to see the Jonas Brothers in Salt Lake City so he could audition for “The Voice.”
Instead, he got a front row seat to watch the brothers pick on each other. He received some vocal tips and pointers, too, as the brothers helped coach Brusa on the song Jonas selected for the Battle round: Post Malone’s “Circles.”
“I knew the song and all the lyrics and the melody,” said Brusa, who had plans to see Post Malone at Salt Lake City’s Vivint Arena last month before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down most venues. “I’ll sing it with my boys sometimes in the car. Anders (Drerup) didn’t know the song very well so there was a little learning curve for him. He had to learn the song, get familiar with it. .. We made it work, though.”
Brusa watched his performance with Drerup unfold on March 30. His mom, dad, two older sisters and their boyfriends gathered together to watch his victory that Monday night. And through the app Zoom, Brusa watched the reactions of other family members and friends.
Brusa’s next appearance on the show will be during the pre-taped Knockout round, which begins April 13. Without giving too much away, Brusa said there’s “a pretty funny moment that they might put on TV.”
“We’ll have to see,” the singer said with a laugh.
The first live episode of “The Voice” is scheduled to air in May, but that could change with TV productions being suspended and delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The network has not yet announced an official plan, but a spokesperson for the show told the Deseret News an announcement will soon be released.