By Sam McDonald
8:03 PM EST, February 24, 2014
Bria Kelly, the talented 18-year-old Smithfield singer, picked R&B star Usher as her coach on NBC's hit show "The Voice."
Kelly's prerecorded blind audition aired Monday night as part of the show's season premier. Her performance was a scorcher. Kelly's powerhouse version of the James Taylor song "Steamroller Blues" -- which muscled its way into raspy Janis Joplin territory -- served as the climax of the two-hour program.
All four judges -- Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Shakira and Usher -- turned their chairs in approval, setting off a brief, intense bidding war for Kelly, a senior at Smithfield High School.
In a video montage that preceded her audition, Kelly explained that her music career started at age 11 when she began singing the national anthem at sporting events. That eventually led to her winning an opening gig for country star Miranda Lambert.
The montage also featured Kelly's parents -- both at home in Smithfield and in "The Voice" studio. "I could never do what I do without my Dad," she said in the video, explaining that he takes on many roles in her support team. "He is the Swiss army knife of band managers," she said.
Kelly also said in the video montage that she was hoping to get the chance to work with Adam Levine.
After her performance, though, something changed her mind.
"Destiny has brought us together," Usher said, wooing the young singer.
Blake Shelton tried a different approach. "You are a stud!" he told her, describing her as "a powerful presence up there."
Shakira said, "You have this energy that takes over the room."
Then, Usher brought out the heavy artillery. He produced a shiny, golden Grammy award and asked Kelly, "Would you like one of these?" He told her that success would come from hard work, determination and making the right choices.
Usher's strategy worked.
"Usher made a really good argument," Kelly said. "He stole me, basically. I can't wait to see what the future holds."
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