Michael Williams' pop star dreams stayed alive Monday night when he learned The Voice viewers voted to keep the 18-year-old Deerfield Township resident in NBC's competition.
Williams, who was singing at Kings Island a year ago, won the "four-way knock-out" round taped in January, and advanced to sing on the live show later Monday night. Williams told WVXU last week that the four-way knock-out that aired April 20 actually "was recorded about three months ago, and so I've been waiting quite a while for the results."
Pop singer Nick Jonas, his coach, praised Williams Monday as "one of the most naturally gifted singers I've ever heard. His ability to emote as he sings – you can't teach some of the stuff he does. I'm glad he's still in this thing, because he deserves to be here."
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all 17 performers sang remotely from their homes, as coaches Jonas, Kelly Clarkson, Blake Shelton and John Legend commented from their homes. Carson Daly was the only one on The Voice stage at Universal Studios in Los Angeles, along with a small production crew.
Just nine of the 17 will move on to sing on The Voice Tuesday May 5 (8-10 p.m., Channel 5, NBC), based on viewers' votes. Voting ends at 7 a.m. Tuesday EDT.
Williams sang Harry Styles' "Sign Of The Times" from his Warren County home near Mason, and drew this reaction:
CLARKSON: "You're so rock 'n' roll, man. That was cool. I love your look. I love your sound… You did a really good job. You're really cool. I think you're like the rock 'n' roll vibe of this show."
JONAS: "We picked this song, and obviously Harry Styles is a phenomenal vocalist and really a stylist with his voice. You just set the bar just as high, if not higher. I'm really proud of you for that vocal performance, and congrats."
Williams, who will be on WVXU's Cincinnati Edition Tuesday at noon, made his national TV debut March 8 on The Voice. Williams sent an audition video to producers last year, after singing in Kings Island's "Country Flashback" show in the Festhaus all summer.
Williams, who is home schooled, started singing lessons at age 6. He began performing at Mason's Acting Up and other Cincinnati area community theater productions at 8. Williams said his role model is Michael Bublé.
"I loved to watch Michael Bublé. He really inspired me to want to do what I do, to be an entertainer … He was my first musical hero. He really got me thinking about that dream, what I wanted to do and who I wanted to become. I think God has placed that on my heart ever since I was little," Williams told WVXU last week.
"I never really thought that I'd be here right now," he continued. "Each step of the way was definitely a confidence boost. I'm here for a reason. I can do this. It's been a wild time, and I'm happy that I get this opportunity, for sure."
How far he goes on The Voice could determine if he uses his TV exposure to launch a singing career this summer or go to college this fall.
"Right now, I'm keeping my options open," he said last week. "There's always the option to go to school for music, and there's also the option to start a career. I think I'm leaning towards just starting a career, but college is still on the horizon and I still have time. I'm just waiting to see how the show goes."