By Sam McDonald, firstname.lastname@example.org
10:38 PM EDT, March 24, 2014
Smithfield's powerhouse vocalist Bria Kelly channeled the raucous spirit of Janis Joplin Monday night on "The Voice" and blasted her way into the next round of NBC's popular singing competition.
Kelly sang against Tess Boyer, a former cheerleader for the St. Louis Rams, on "Piece of My Heart," a tune Joplin made famous back in 1968 with her band Big Brother and The Holding Company.
Usher, the celebrity coach for both Kelly and Boyer, acknowledged that Boyer had made great strides, but ultimately felt that Kelly had connected better with the song's fierce soul.
During a flashback to coaching sessions before the battle, guest adviser Jill Scott expressed admiration for the young vocalist from Virginia. "Bria is a rocket in flight," Scott said.
Although Kelly won the battle, all was not lost for Boyer. She escaped elimination when judge Blake Shelton opted to save her.
Kelly and Boyer now join 35 other singers moving ahead in the competition.
It was a spectacular end to an emotional day for Kelly, an 18-year-old senior at Smithfield High School. While the battle rounds are prerecorded, Kelly obviously was reliving the drama of the high-stakes showdown.
Near the top of the show, she posted to her Twitter account that she was already crying. "Battling my best friend," she wrote. Kelly followed that with a message specifically for Boyer. "I love you more than anything."
The tears had started earlier in the day, apparently. "I was crying because I just hit 15K," she posted Monday afternoon, meaning that she had attracted 15,000 Twitter followers. "I seriously never thought this would happen to me. #tears."
Shelton, talking about the Kelly-Boyer fight, said he thought Boyer had beaten Kelly. "Bria, we all knew what to expect from you and you did great, you did what we thought you would do ... But as far as finesse and dimension, I think Tess took it, myself."
Judge Adam Levine offered Bria an extra measure of encouragement. Instead of critiquing her performance, he simply expressed his admiration for the young singer. "You know you broke my heart, killed me when you went with this guy," Levine said, pointing to Usher. Levine originally made a strong play to recruit Kelly for his team, to no avail. "I have a soft spot for you," Levine told her. "You were my big loss. I am so terrified of Team Usher right now because of you, so congratulations."
More on Bria
Go to dailypress.com/bria to look back at Bria Kelly's musical journey
Copyright © 2015, Newport News, Va., Daily Press