‘A boy from Selma with a dream’: Alabama singer salutes hometown on ‘The Voice’

Alabama was in the spotlight this week on “The Voice,” as soul singer Asher HaVon paid tribute to his hometown in Selma.

The powerhouse vocalist, who’s competing on Reba McEntire’s team, was featured in a video package on Monday’s episode of the NBC reality series. In the clips, which preceded his performance in the semifinals, HaVon talked about the impact Selma’s had on him and told viewers why the city in Dallas County is close to his heart.

“I would not be here without Selma,” said HaVon, 31. “Selma has given me a foundation that I don’t believe I would have gotten anywhere else. The people that are in Selma understand what it means to come from small beginnings and face the world. She’s a beautiful example on how to handle adversity gracefully and rise above it, and still stand. And as an artist, every time I stand on stage, I just feel like the strength that Selma has taught me always shows up and (will) catapult me forward.”

Selma, of course, is a historic city in the Black Belt, famed for events that took place there in the 1960s during the civil rights movement. Each year, a re-enactment of the Selma-to-Montgomery march for voting rights is held in Selma, attended by political figures, Hollywood stars, state dignitaries and more. The city also was the focus of the 2014 Oscar-winning movie “Selma,” filmed in Alabama and starring David Oyelowo as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

During rehearsals for Monday’s episode of “The Voice,” HaVon talked about his Alabama roots with McEntire and discussed his journey from small town to Hollywood stage. This an important week for him on the TV series, as the top nine singers performed for viewer votes on Monday’s live episode. On Tuesday’s episode, the top five singers will be revealed and advance to the finals.

“I’m having the best time of my life,” HaVon said. “This is a dream that I don’t want to wake up from. … I went from sitting on the floor, a boy from Selma with a dream, to now one performance away from being in top five. I’m still in this thing.”

Asher HaVon on "The Voice"

Alabama’s Asher HaVon covered Beyonce’s “Irreplaceable” for his Top 9 performance on “The Voice” during Season 25.(Casey Durkin/NBC)

McEntire, who’s become one of HaVon’s most fervent cheerleaders, gave the singer a pep talk as he worked on his rendition of “Irreplaceable,” a 2006 hit for Beyonce. The pop/R&B song is a departure from the soaring ballads HaVon has previously performed on “The Voice,” and he seemed uncertain viewers would accept him in a new mode.

“I am honestly filled with anxiety about the song,” HaVon told McEntire. “It’s Beyonce, it’s uptempo. This song is going to push me.”

But McEntire seemed convinced that HaVon was ready to take a risk and succeed. “Asher has no clue how good he is,” McEntire said. “He’s blossoming, growing so fast.”

HaVon’s fears evidently were put to rest when he covered “Irreplaceable” on Monday’s episode, earning applause from the studio audience and kudos from the celebrity coaches. In fact, John Legend said HaVon’s vocal talent was tops in the competition during Season 25.

“Asher, my dad texted me this week and said, ‘Asher is the Voice,’” Legend said. “Now, I’m a little biased toward my team, but I will say this: No matter what other factors people are voting on, I think you’re the best vocalist in this competition. And you show that with every song, no matter what you sing. You can sing, man, just flat out.”

McEntire also praised HaVon, giving him an extra nudge toward the finals.

“You coming out and singing this Beyonce song absolutely floored me,” the country star said. “I’m so proud of you. You have grown so much, your appearance, your stage presence, and your singing’s always been magnificent. Thank you for shining for God.”

Asher HaVon on "The Voice"

Alabama’s Asher HaVon, left, covered Beyonce’s “Irreplaceable” for his Top 9 performance on “The Voice” during Season 25. Series host Carson Daly is at right.(Trae Patton/NBC)

Viewer voting started during Monday’s episode of “The Voice” and closed on Tuesday morning. Results will be announced on Tuesday’s hourlong episode, which starts at 7 p.m. CT.

HaVon is the only Alabama singer to make it this far on “The Voice” during Season 25. Five singers from the state were featured on the show this season, but the others were eliminated during previous episodes. Along with HaVon, they were Val T Webb of Birmingham, Ducote Talmage of Auburn, Rivers Grayson of Muscle Shoals and Corey Curtis, a Saraland resident.

The state’s never had a winner on “The Voice” during its 13-year history on television. However, more than 30 contestants from the state have made their marks on the show over the years, starting with Nakia Reynoso in Season 1 and continuing through spring 2023 with four Alabama singers moving through the competition in Season 23.

D. Smooth, an R&B singer from Birmingham, took third place on “The Voice” during the Season 23 finals in May 2023. Three other Alabama contestants — Ryley Tate Wilson, Jerome Godwin III and JB Somers — were eliminated earlier in the season.

“Growing up in Selma, Alabama, Asher was surrounded by gospel singers. President Obama went to Selma in 2015 for a speech commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery in honor of African American civil rights. Asher auditioned for a spot in the choir that was set to perform John Legend’s song ‘Glory.’ The choir director was so blown away by Asher that Asher led the choir that day, performing in front of 200,000 people. This was also a turning point for his relationship with his father, whom he’s always had a complicated relationship with. A couple of years ago, his father survived a car accident and their relationship grew even stronger. They now talk regularly and he greatly supports Asher’s music. It was Asher’s mom who really pushed him to sing when he was young. He likes to call her his singing sergeant and is excited to make her proud on ‘The Voice.’”

 

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