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Ala. firefighter advances to next phase of ‘The Voice’

Auburn Firefighter Ducote Talmage covered “Rock and a Hard Place” during the Battle Round on Season 25 of “The Voice”

By Mary Colurso

AUBURN, Ala. — Some reality TV contestants make the mistake of smiling broadly when they’re performing a song that expresses difficult emotions, such as anger and frustration. But Alabama’s Ducote Talmage didn’t fall into that trap, staying focused and intense during his Battle Round on Season 25 of “The Voice.”

The Auburn firefighter, 20, covered “Rock and a Hard Place” on Monday’s episode of the NBC reality series, performing a duet with Ryan Coleman . Both are country singers who’d aced their Blind Auditions, competing on Team Dan & Shay.

READ: Morgan Wallen cover makes Auburn firefighter ‘an absolute standout’ on ‘The Voice’

In the “Voice” Battles, singers perform duets with other contestants on their teams, vying to keep their spots on the show. Their coaches prepare them for the Battle Rounds, choosing the songs and making the final decisions on who stays and who goes.

Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney know a thing or two about duets, with successful singles to their credit as a country duo and awards from Grammy , the Academy of Country Music, CMT and more. As coaches on “The Voice,” they chose Bailey Zimmerman’s 2022 hit for Talmage and Coleman, thinking it would show off their skills to advantage.

The song — a storytelling tune about a man facing a relationship breakup — inspired a closely fought Battle between the two contestants and prompted all of the celebrity coaches to praise both singers. Talmage received the most effusive compliments, however, along with some constructive criticism. He bested Coleman in the Battle and will move on to the next phase of the competition, known as the Knockouts.

“Fellas, great job,” John Legend said. “Ducote, I love that kind of scratchy part of your mid-range of your voice, especially at the beginning of the song, it was kind of like a whisper. On the bigger notes, it turned into more like a growl, a bit, and there were moments when I would want to dial the growl back, just a little bit, but it was minor. But I enjoyed watching you perform. It was great. ... If I were to choose, I would lean a little bit towards Ducote. I think his tone was a little more interesting for me.”

“Ducote, I did love your tone a lot,” Reba McEntire said. “I am from Oklahoma, you’re from Alabama, got that same kind of dialect going. ... You guys sounded great together. ... If I had to decide, I would go with Ducote.”

“That was fire,” Chance the Rapper said. He gave Coleman the edge, however, for his vocal tone and ability to stand out in the duet. “If it was my choice, I would go Ryan,” Chance said.

“I loved the Battle, man,” Dan Smyers said. “That was incredible. I’m so proud of you boys. ... Y’all killed it. Ducote, I felt like the very beginning, I sensed a little bit of nerves. A little pitchy on that first line, that’s OK. This is a tough spot. It felt like you were out here to win this Battle. You’re a star on stage.”

Shay Mooney agreed. “It’s going to come down, to be honest, for me, to who we think brought the most passion to the song,” Mooney said. “The winner of this Battle is Ducote.”

“Ducote and Ryan was one of the closest Battles,” Smyers said. “They both crushed it, but Ducote just connected with the lyric and the emotion of the song, like, the littlest bit more, like 5 percent more. He’s magnetic and the texture of his voice is really, really special.”

“Ducote is someone that the competition needs,” Mooney added. “We just couldn’t send him home.”

Talmage’s reaction to his win was short and sweet: “I’m going to the Knockouts. Let’s go!”

He’s one of five Alabama singers competing on “The Voice” this season, and the second to be featured during the current Battle Rounds. Asher HaVon of Selma also triumphed during his Battle, which aired during a previous episode.

Alabama has a presence on all four teams during Season 25, with Talmage on Team Dan & Shay, HaVon on Team Reba, Val T Webb of Birmingham on Team Chance, Rivers Grayson of Muscle Shoals on Team Legend and Corey Curtis , a Saraland resident, on Team Chance.

Look for Webb , Grayson and Curtis on “The Voice” as the Battle Rounds continue over the next few episodes. “The Voice” features five stages of competition: Blind Auditions, Battle Rounds, Knockouts, Playoffs and live performance shows. Early episodes of each season are filmed in advance.

Alabama’s never had a winner on “The Voice” during its 13-year history on television. However, more than 30 contestants from the state have made their marks on the show over the years, starting with Nakia Reynoso in Season 1 and continuing through spring 2023 with four Alabama singers moving through the competition in Season 23.

D. Smooth, an R&B singer from Birmingham , took third place on “The Voice” during the Season 23 finals in May 2023 . Three other Alabama contestants — Ryley Tate Wilson , Jerome Godwin III and JB Somers — were eliminated earlier in the season.

If you watch: “The Voice” airs at 7 p.m. CT on Mondays and 8 p.m. on Tuesdays on NBC . The series also streams on Peacock. Early episodes in the season are filmed in advance.

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