My favorite part of every season of The Voice is when the contestants visit their hometowns. It's so exciting to see the artists welcomed home with such fanfare and treated with parades and keys to the city. One hometown visit that really stood out tonight was Koryn Hawthorne's, 17, visit to Abbeville, LA. The high-schooler left home as a normal student and returned as a celebrity. I seriously got emotional watching her school welcome her home with overwhelming support and hearing her parents and teachers talk about how proud of her they are. Hawthorne gave Abbeville an amazing tribute with her performance of Aretha Franklin's "Oh Mary, Don't You Weep," and proved that, though she's improved so much in this competition, she'll always stay true to her roots — and that's a pretty amazing thing to see at such a young age.
If The Voice coaches were to award a "Most Improved" title this season, it would be a unanimous vote to award it to Hawthorne. She came into this game as a young, inexperienced aspiring artist and has become a mature, soulful musician. No one would have expected her to get this far when she first began — she was talented, yes, but still had a lot to learn. Luckily she had a coach who knows how to hone the talent of young artists. Pharrell really took Hawthorne under his wing and helped her find who she is as an artist. With his guidance, she has become a strong inspirational artist with a voice far beyond her years.
Hawthorne's soulful reputation on the show is what has gotten her so far. She has put herself in a league of her own by singing soulful church songs and America has really responded to it. Her performance tonight of "Oh Mary, Don't You Weep" proved that this type of music is exactly what she needs to sing. It was strong, powerful, and probably her best performance yet. Though Hawthorne may not make it to the end of this competition, she has made it much farther than anyone could've guessed after her Blind Audition. As long as she keeps doing what she's doing, she's sure to have an amazing career and touch many lives along the way.
Image: Trae Patton/NBC