One audition on the Season 20 premiere of The Voice caught coach Blake Shelton completely off-guard. The socially distanced start of the 20th season of the competition reality show also marked The Voice’s 10th anniversary on NBC, and coaches Kelly Clarkson, Nick Jonas, John Legend and the aforementioned Blake reunited in the swiveling chairs for the first night of Blind Auditions. But when Carson Daly calls a performance “an audition like we’ve never seen before,” it’s hard to believe there’s much else a contestant could bring to the stage that hasn’t been done in the 19 prior seasons.
While it's not rare to see a contestant on The Voice with Nashville roots, 45-year-old Pete Mroz had a personal, and musical, connection to Blake Shelton's past that completely floored “the old cowboy.” Mroz was introduced as a Nashville artist and family man who sells men's golf apparel (not how he knew Blake), and his smooth and seasoned performance of “Can’t Find My Way Home” by Blind Faith earned chair turns from both Blake and Mr. EGOT himself, John Legend. When Blake turned around, Mroz pointed at the country star, and that’s when Blake said he knew something was up. It turned out they'd jammed together 25 years previous.
When the song was over, John talked to Mroz first, saying he liked his energy. When Pete called himself the old guy on the show, John and Nick pointed at Blake, leading Pete to tell the country star, “Yeah, I’m gonna get to you.” Blake responded that’s not usually a good thing for him.
As soon as Pete Mroz said he used to go by a different name, Pete Mitchell, Blake Shelton became flummoxed, letting out a signature "Oh my God,” before putting his head down and burying his head in his hands. He groaned in embarrassment as Mroz said he cut his chops in a group in Nashville called The Young Riders, prompting Blake to explain to the other coaches that he was in that very same collection of musicians.
Kelly Clarkson was highly amused to realize that Blake hadn’t immediately recognized a former group member, even though they hadn’t seen each other in 25 years. The two explained that it wasn’t even a band so much as a songwriter circle. Even beyond not immediately recognizing him though, Mroz had another bone to pick with Blake:
PETE MROZ: You stole my bass player.
BLAKE SHELTON: No! I gave your bass player a job!
In the end, Pete Mroz chose to get the group back together, and he joined Team Blake for a shot at long-term success. Kelly Clarkson still didn’t let Blake off the hook, continuing to rib her Voice-mate even after Mroz had left the stage, saying: "If that ever happened to me, I would sweat so bad." The challenge is now on for The Voice producers to find someone to make Kelly do just that.
Blake Shelton said he’s excited to be working with an old buddy, and Pete Mroz echoed the sentiment, telling Carson Daly it was a full-circle moment. Mroz said he and Blake used to sit around writing songs, and now he’s on this huge stage, and Blake’s a country superstar. Check out the excellent performance in the video below!
On the first night of Blind Auditions, Kelly Clarkson, John Legend and Blake Shelton all picked up two artists for their respective teams, while recent SNL guest host Nick Jonas got three. Find how whose team will get filled up the fastest when The Voice continues at 8 p.m. ET Tuesday for the second round of Blind Auditions.