Hometown Stars: Father And Son Begin ‘Joyful, Amazing’ Journey On The Voice
Millions of people saw Newtown's own Jim Allen and his son Sasha Allen wow the judges on The Voice’s blind auditions when it aired Tuesday, September 21. The Voice is a popular singing competition on NBC that is now in its 21st season.
This year’s celebrity coaches include artists Blake Shelton, Kelly Clarkson, John Legend, and Ariana Grande. All are powerhouses in the music industry and will mentor contestants on their team who will later go on to compete for the spot as winner of the show.
After Jim and Sasha stepped foot onto that iconic stage, they talked with The Newtown Bee about how their journey of preparation and dedication to their craft was years in the making.
The Bee had an exclusive opportunity to speak with the duo by phone on September 24, to hear about the work that led them on the show and the life-changing first performance that has gone viral in the best way.
Many residents may recognize Jim from countless performances he has done in town including a special concert with Sasha and friends at Reverie Brewing Company in January 2020. Jim is also a popular music teacher who has taught many young aspiring musicians over the years.
Sasha, having grown up with such a musical influence in his life, learned to play guitar from his dad when he was 10 years old. Since then, the two have honed their ability to perform together with an ease that is rare and spellbinding to witness.
So, when Jim received an e-mail back in April 2020 that auditions were open for The Voice, instead of pursuing it alone, he asked his son if he would try out with him.
“I’m a better singer singing with Sasha,” Jim said.
He attributed that to their ability to recreate a song anew every time they perform together as well as that he is so proud of his son’s talent.
“That’s what I love about doing this, because it’s with my son,” Jim said about the opportunity to be on The Voice.
While being on a such a large platform has been a dream for Sasha, he was initially apprehensive.
“It is always something I dreamed of and something I always thought about doing,” Sasha said. “Just starting the whole process of looking into auditioning and submitting things, it was so surreal and amazing.”
With his family and his girlfriend’s encouragement, he got the confidence to do the submission video.
“I was like, ‘Why not. Let’s do the video. Let’s submit it.’ Then it was up and up from there. It was shocking to me,” Sasha said.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, auditioning for The Voice included recording a video performance and sending it in online.
“I think COVID — in the sense that everything had to be digital — almost made it easier to come together, play music, and submit an audition video, because we didn’t have to even leave our house. We could just record ourselves playing music,” Sasha said.
“It was an amazing experience," he contineud. It was "a little bit stressful choosing what song we wanted to play and how we wanted to present ourselves. Also, it was just so exciting and rewarding at the same time. And the best part was we got to spend time with each other and time with our family discussing it.”
Jim says that it was a “long process” before the world got to see their performance, but both agree that it was all worth it.
“It was a great experience from starting off and seeing the e-mail my dad got saying auditions were open to where we are now. It’s been a joyful, amazing journey.” Sasha said.
Meaningful Song Choice
Jim and Sasha debuted on The Voice performing John Denver’s “Leaving on a Jet Plane.”
“We landed on that song, because in our blind audition we really wanted to reflect the music what I grew up listening to and my dad grew up listening to, music that my dad taught me when he taught me how to play guitar, and the music that we’ve always connected through, which is folk music [and] Americana,” Sasha explained.
They have sung “Leaving on a Jet Plane” countless times together and wanted that emotional bond they both felt about the tune to shine through.
Jim added, “For me, the song connects to our past and singing together and learning guitar, but it also connected to this particular journey because we literally had to fly out to California on a jet plane. I had never been there and neither had Sasha. It’s this awesome adventure that has unfolded kind of unexpectedly and on a level that is just so rewarding and so joyful. I am so grateful to be sharing this with my son.”
Sasha says he can remember feeling nervous waiting behind the door to go on stage for the blind audition, but once they got on their marks and he looked at his dad – it all changed.
“There was all this buildup to this moment… I got up on stage and I think it’s because of how comfortable I feel singing with my dad over the years. It was almost a relaxed moment as we stepped up to those microphones,” Sasha said.
Within 20 seconds into the song, the camera captured Clarkson’s enjoyment of their performance saying it sounded “pretty.”
When Jim and Sasha’s voices were in unison, the crowd cheered and applauded. There were points in the song the audience could not help but clap along and cheer loudly.
“I have to press,” Clarkson said, which referenced the button the coaches press to show they are interested in having the musical act on their team for the show.
Clarkson’s red chair swiveled around, so she could finally see the duo.
“Seeing Kelly turn her chair, it felt like not only so joyful and exciting but a sigh of relief after the process that started in April 2020 finally coming full circle when I saw her turn around and her smiling face,” Sasha said. “It was the best thing I’ve ever seen. I thought it couldn’t get any better than that moment then Ariana pressed her button, and it totally blew me away. In that moment, I was like I just accomplished the dream of my entire life.”
When Grande hit her button, the surprise left Sasha with an elated reaction that has gone viral on social media.
“That was not planned at all, my reaction,” Sasha shared. “I didn’t expect Ariana to turn around, because I felt like the genre of the song wasn’t really her lane. I didn’t think that she would really be looking to have an act like us on her team, so when I saw her turn around and realized we got two chairs and it was in the last three seconds of the song, it was so overwhelming.”
On Stage Interactions
After the performance, Jim and Sasha introduced themselves to the coaches and Sasha presented Shelton with a handmade drawing of himself, his dad, and Shelton together.
When Shelton received it, he made some self-deprecating comments about what type of person would not push their button for them and it left everyone laughing.
Sasha told The Newtown Bee that before the blind audition he would have predicted they would be on “Team Blake,” because his specialty of country music is closest to theirs of folk.
“Aside from that I’m also a huge Blake Shelton fan, so the motive of the drawing was not only that I thought we might end up on his team, it might be fun, I can draw, and it would be a cute little thing, but it was also despite him not turning around, it didn’t matter to me because I’m such a huge fan of him. I have been for a really long time, so to be able to give that to him was amazing,” Sasha said.
After that special moment, each coach was able to say a few words to Jim and Sasha, including Clarkson and Grande who now had to make their pitch to the duo to pick them.
Clarkson said that while she was “a little nervous” about how happy Sasha was to see Grande turn around, she loved their performance.
She mentioned she does have a trio on her team already, but she loved their father and son harmony and would love to be their coach.
Grande voiced, “The thing about your voices together is the harmonies were so perfectly knit and peaceful that it really transported me. I felt that I was at Woodstock or something. The pitch was as close to perfect as you could have been.”
She ended by saying that she does not have a group and could help them push their voices “to the nth degree.”
With all that in mind, on the show Sasha leaned over to whisper in his dad’s ear, who then nodded, and Sasha announced their decision: “Ariana.”
Her reaction was of delighted shock. She stood up to give them a hug and said, “Thank you so much!”
Sasha explained the decision during the interview, saying, “If someone had told me before we went on that Kelly and Ariana were going to turn around for you, I would have expected myself to pick Kelly just considering our genre, but it really was a decision that was made on stage between my dad and us talking about it.”
Jim added, “At the moment that they were speaking to us, Kelly alluded to the fact that she has a trio on her team. That got us thinking a little bit and the fact that Ariana had turned unexpectantly, I felt that – for any number of reasons – that Ariana was the better pick.”
Both are confident that they made the best decision and are excited to work with Grande, who is a multi-Grammy award winning singer.
While Jim and Sasha could not reveal any details about the future of their time on The Voice, they said that after all the blind auditions air, people can expect the battle round, knock-out round, then the live performances.
Jim concluded by saying, “We are so grateful for all the support from our friends and family and the community.”
To watch Jim and Sasha Allen on The Voice, tune in to NBC on Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 pm. To watch Jim and Sasha Allen’s blind audition — which has been viewed more than a million times as of September 26 — click here:
Reporter Alissa Silber can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.