Season 22 of The Voice debuted Monday night (Sept. 20), and we might just have a contender for this year’s title. As one of the first performers of the evening, Omar Jose Cardona wowed the coaches, earning a four-chair turn with a powerhouse vocal performance on Journey‘s ’80s hit “Separate Ways.”
Even before Cardona sang his first note, the coaches quickly figured out the vocalist was making a bold song choice, as Gwen Stefani and Camila Cabello both let out audible “Oh’s” as the song’s opening keyboards rang out.
It didn’t take long into the performance for Cardona’s talent to shine through. John Legend was the first to turn after hearing only 12 seconds of the singer’s vocals on the song. Blake Shelton was the second to turn, soon followed by Stefani, with Cabello being the hardest sell as she waited until the very end of the performance when one of Cardona’s power notes led her to get in on the selling to be the singer’s coach.
While not only hitting some of those Steve Perry vocals, Cardona was also showing his command as a performer, finishing off the set by raising his mic stand to the sky and earning a standing ovation from the crowd and several of the coaches.
As you might expect, this 33-year-old from Orlando, Florida was not new to the performing world, revealing he had been professionally singing for 15 years. A deeper dive into his background reveals that he has a band called Epic Party Band and has been performing primarily on cruise ships and at sporting events. Cardona started his professional singing venture after graduating high school in 2007, and he has been associated with Disney as a session singer.
After the performance, Cabello addressed why she waiting so long to turn, explaining, “What can I add creatively to this that gets me excited?,” but she added that she could tell that he was an energetic performer and commented, “I turned around and saw you with the mic stand and was like, ‘Yeah, that’s my guy, obviously.'”
“I haven’t heard a voice like that since the ’80s,” added Gwen Stefani. “We never get to hear men sing like that anymore.”
“You have crazy range that most male singers could never pull off. There was something interesting about the little turns in your voice that were very soulful to me. It sounded like a church singer singing rock music sometimes,” added John Legend, then telling Cardona that he’s the kind of artist that could win The Voice.
“We’re going to see a lot of super talented people, but we’re not going to see a lot of people coming at it from the angle that you’re coming from. I think there’s a demand for that and within the country lane, I rock pretty hard,” added Blake Shelton, trying to sell himself as a coach to Cardona.
Within the midst of the pitching, Cardona revealed to the coaching panel, “It’s really tough because there’s not a lot of true rock ‘n’ roll anymore, and as much as I am a pop artist, I really respect the ’80s music, so I would like to create a genre of pop and old school rock.” So it looks like The Voice might have a contender who will champion rock during his run.
Eventually, Cardona chose John Legend to be his coach for the season. Get a closer look at the audition performance below.