Monday night, students and Tulsans alike gathered in the Hammer Center to support ORU alumnus Brian Nhira as the blind auditions of “The Voice” premiered on the big screen.
“It was without a doubt surreal just to watch that moment because when you’re on that stage there’s really only 500 people in there,” Nhira said. “But what you don’t realize in the moment is that 14 million people will watch this show.”
Brian took the famous stage and sang his rendition of Pharrell’s “Happy,” showing the audience his ability to bring energy to a crowd through his performance. Judges Pharrell Williams and Blake Shelton pressed their buttons and turned their chairs around on the last note.
“All these thoughts come through your mind, and once I realized I was almost all the way through this song, I just thought to myself ‘you know what, this has been an incredible opportunity; if they turn their chairs, they turn their chairs; if they don’t, they don’t,” Nhira said. “I’m going to keep doing what God has called me to do.”
Nhira admits to breathing the biggest sigh of relief when the judges turned around at the last possible second.
“First of all, I was blown away that Pharrell turned because it was his song,” Nhira said. “I never even thought about it being his song before I went to this audition. I just knew that I loved this song and I had my own rendition of the song that I wanted to sing. So I went out there, did it, and I’m grateful that he liked it.”
Not only did Pharrell “like” Nhira’s version of the song, he even admitted Nhira sang it better and hit runs he himself couldn’t hit.
“Going into the first auditions for “The Voice” I sang [Happy] and started getting more and more comfortable with the song, started putting my own flavor in it, and it ultimately came out to be something really special,” Nhira said.
As Pharrell and Shelton fought over Nhira’s decision to join their teams, Nhira shared his back- ground in music and told them the first song he ever sang was “Jesus Loves Me.” The judges requested an impromptu performance.
“I knew in that moment that God was in the place,” Nhira said. “As I started to sing it there was an overwhelming sense of the Holy Spirit in the room. There was almost stillness when everybody stood up; to me, it felt like they stood up in reverence to God. Not just because I could sing well, but I felt like the King had arrived.”
Story by Madison McDaniel, Photo by Xavier Gonzalez