September 26, 2023
Monday's season 24 premiere of "The Voice" left viewers with a cliffhanger, as talented South Jersey singer Mara Justine struggled to choose which judge's team she'd like to join.
In a rare scenario, all four celebrity judges — Gwen Stefani, John Legend, Reba McEntire and Niall Horan — swiftly pressed the button to turn their chairs around during Justine's blind audition, indicating their interest in having her join their squads as the NBC singing competition moves forward.
Galloway Township-native Justine, 21, belted out a rendition of Elton John's "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" that had every judge turn their chair before she even reached the first chorus. While all four expressed interest in Justine joining their teams, Legend — who turned around first — and former One Direction boybander Horan were the most adamant about winning Justine over.
"They make them different in Jersey," Horan exclaimed. "Like, someone that's willing to go into the first round with an Elton John song, and sing it like that, takes something. If this is where you've set the bar, what are we going to see from you down the line? America's going to fall in love with that voice."
While Legend said he would love to have Justine on his team, Horan displayed a giant foam finger that reads "Pick Niall" — an old trick of former judge Blake Shelton. As the two judges continued their back-and-forth, Legend upped the ante by asking Justine to sing a duet of his 2013 hit "All of Me." Following the singalong, Justine is faced with making a final decision, and the episode ends.
Fans can tune in Tuesday at 8 p.m. to find out who Justine chooses as her mentor. Regardless of Justine's choice, she now heads to the battles round, in which each judge pairs two singers from their own team in a head-to-head sing-off, then chooses only one contestant to continue on the show.
Justine is no stranger to televised talent competitions. In 2018, she earned a standing ovation during her audition on season 16 of "American Idol" and went on to make it into the top 14. In 2014, she was a finalist on "America's Got Talent" at just 11 years old.
Justine, who attended Absegami High School, has been training with vocal coach Sal Dupree in Linwood, Atlantic County since 2011.
"The Voice" airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on NBC and is available to stream the next day on Peacock.
Watch Justine's full audition below: