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Cleveland singer D.R. King makes a believer out of Kelly Clarkson on ‘The Voice’

February 28, 2018 GMT

Cleveland singer D.R. King makes a believer out of Kelly Clarkson on ‘The Voice’

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- As a kid in Cleveland, D.R. King grew up watching “American Idol.” He even tried out for “Sunday Best” and “The X-Factor.”

In 2013, a friend convinced him to go with her to New York City for an open audition for “The Voice.” He didn’t get that either, but the experience in the Big Apple convinced the former first-grade music teacher at Hope Academy to move to Harlem to pursue his dreams of becoming a singer.

“I was over singing competitions period,” King, who started singing when he was 3 years old, said. “I was just trying to survive doing what I wanted to do.”

Five years of performing in off-Broadway musicals, at weddings and corporate events later, the 34-year old church singer from Hough was offered the chance to audition for “The Voice” again.

This time, he made it.

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“I guess I just killed it and kept killing it. Now I’m here,” King said. “I can’t believe it. I’m overwhelmed and I’m so grateful.”

The Cleveland School of the Arts graduate made his television debut Monday during the premiere of the 14th season of the hit NBC show, performing before music heavyweights Adam Levine, Alicia Keys, Kelly Clarkson and Blake Shelton. With the judges’ backs turned to him, King sang “Believer” by Imagine Dragons.

“They flew out my my mom and sister out to L.A. and I just didn’t want to let them down,” King said about his mindset heading into the audition. “My mom is a ‘The Voice’ fanatic. She watches it all the time.

“So, being on the show is even more special because my mom loves the show. She was always pressuring me about auditioning. When she found out I got it, it just meant the world to her,” he said.

But halfway through the performance, King got a little rattled.

“I was going through a lot mentally because nobody turned,” he recalled, “I got all the way to the second chorus before somebody turned. So, I wasn’t sure,” he said. “I didn’t think anybody was going to turn. But when Kelly turned, I knew. Then at the very last moment, Blake turned and I was like, ‘OK, this is it.’”

King, who describes his style as rock-soul, wowed the judges.

“I love that you brought your soul to that song,” Clarkson raved. “It was so well executed. Your runs were sick. I think you have way more than what we just heard.”

“Killed it,” fellow judge Alicia Keys added. “Your voice is explosive,” Shelton said, impressed.

When it came time to pick a coach, King didn’t hesitate. It was Kelly Clarkson all the way.

“She was the original singing competition winner,” he said. “She was the first to experience anything like this so when she turned.... I didn’t think anybody could really give me advice that real except her because she actually went through this and has been successful.”

How far will King go in the competition? He’s not at liberty to let us in on what to expect once the blind audtions over and work on Team Kelly begins. He can’t even give a hint about the songs he’s considering performing next.

“What I just want everybody especially from Cleveland to do is just stay tuned. There is a lot of great competition in this show. The singers are phenomenal and just know I didn’t come to play. I’m definitely trying to contend and put on for my city.”