A legion of fairly talented singers has taken the stage on “The Voice” and tried to prove their bona fides as the next Xtina or Whitney with a run of huh-huh-high notes that usually fall flat.
Payge Turner had a much better plan. The Seattle singer went low, low, low, low, low, low, low on her version of The Weeknd’s “Call My Name” during the Oct. 19 season premiere that drew 8.2 million viewers.
Really, really low.
“I remember talking to my mom about it and I was just like, ‘I’ve got to hit this note,’ ” Turner said. “And she was like, ‘Yeah, you’ve got to represent for all the altos and all the low female singers.’ And that’s what I did. And I made sure I hit that note.”
Turner got quite the response from the seasoned panel of superstar singers/coaches during her blind auditions that aired last month. From there, she advanced to the competition singing show’s battle rounds portion, which starts at 8 p.m. Monday, Nov. 9, on NBC.
Kelly Clarkson exclaimed, “Whuuut? Oh, my God, that low note!” John Legend responded like he was in church with an “OK!”
“The Voice” OG Blake Shelton quickly turned his chair to watch Turner finish her performance with Gwen Stefani turning just as she wrapped. Shelton described the scene for his fellow coaches as he tried to convince Turner to join his team.
“I’m not even sure how to describe what it is you do because these people heard it, but they didn’t get to see what I saw,” Shelton said. “See that mic stand laying back there on the floor …?”
“No you didn’t,” Clarkson shouted as she stood up to see the evidence.
“ … She slammed it down,” Shelton continued. “She was high stepping. Her knees were above her head. She was stomping. I mean it was awesome. She’s not just an incredible vocalist, she’s a performer. If you don’t pick me for your coach, at least give me a year’s free (membership) in your fan club because I’m a huge fan.”
Despite Shelton’s best pitch, Turner decided to join Stefani’s team after the singer said this: “I felt like your voice was just so beautiful. Everybody was dying when you hit that low note. I just love how much control you have and how sexy you sounded.”
And that, folks, is how you make an impression on reality television.
“Yeah, the moment I threw it, I was like, ‘Time to step into this insane tigeresque type of way of approaching this performance,” she said. “Because after you did that, you’ve got to elevate from that point. You can’t just throw the stand and stand there. I’ve got to do something else. So it was definitely a bold choice.”
Turner has made a lot of those recently. The 27-year-old Trinidad and Tobago native moved to Seattle two-and-a-half years ago after spending more than a decade in Kansas, where she lived as a teen and young adult. She didn’t have a location in mind originally; she just wanted out and was willing to go anywhere she could pursue music.
She was planning a backpacking trip with a friend and had already been to the East Coast, so she turned her search engine West.
“I looked into Washington,” she said. “I actually knew nothing about Seattle prior to Googling ‘backpacking in Seattle’ and came upon Forks, Washington, and absolutely fell in love just over the internet. And I remember flying in and I was like, ‘That’s it! This is the place I’m going to live.’ ”
The School of Rock instructor formed a band and started building a local fan base. She even — before the pandemic — occasionally toured. That’s where she caught the attention of casting producers for “The Voice,” who were out for a night of drinks and heard her sing in Los Angeles. She wasn’t able to audition for the show that time around, but they reached out when casting for Season 19 began.
Now she’s looking to build on the foundation she’s laid here in Seattle.
“It’s definitely a surreal moment” performing on the show, she said, “because these are people that aren’t your regular fans. They are people that are now seeing you in this moment. So it’s nerve wracking, but at the same time, it’s one of the best feelings and the best adrenaline rushes you’ll ever have.”