Tate Brusa, a singer from Utah, is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often referred to as “the Mormon Church”). The 16-year-old Highland High School sophomore is also one of the youngest singers in the 18th season of the NBC hit show The Voice, however, his young age has yet to put him at a disadvantage.
During his audition for the show, Tate performed “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran. After hitting an especially raspy note during the final seconds of his performance, two of the judges, Nick Jonas and Blake Shelton, turned their chairs in hopes to get a shot of having him join their team.
Blake Shelton even went as far as trying to woo Tate with a cute puppy. He told Tate, “If you don’t choose me as your coach, this puppy’s going to go straight back to the animal shelter.” John Legend, who said he didn’t “have a dog in this fight,” encouraged the young singer to go with Nick Jonas as his coach. Nick Jonas told Tate that he liked the “fight” in his voice and gave him some on-the-spot vocal coaching. He also played Tate’s guitar.
Tate told the Deseret News, “I figured the dog wasn’t going to go back to the pound if I didn’t pick Blake. And originally I thought I was going to get the dog if I were to pick him, but then I realized that was a bit of a stretch. I was amazed and honored that he turned around, but I had to go with Nick.”
Tate has a deep admiration for Nick Jonas. In October 2019, when the Jonas Brothers came to Salt Lake City, Utah, Tate’s dad bought front row seats to the concert. Unfortunately, the show was scheduled right around the time that Tate had to leave for California to prepare for his audition on The Voice. He commented, “I said, ‘It’s OK, Nick Jonas is going to be a judge. I know I’m missing out on the concert, but he’s going to be listening to me sing.’” Not only did Nick listen to him sing – he ended up seeing the potential in Tate.
Speaking about Nick, Tate said, “He’s such a nice guy, really genuine. And I mean, everyone saw it on TV — he really wants to help me improve my singing, my stage presence and (make sure I’m) putting on the best performance.”
On Monday, 30 March 2020, Tate went up against 36-year-old contestant Anders Drerup during the show’s battle round. Coached by Nick Jonas, the pair sang a duet of “Circles” by Post Malone. In a clip that aired before the performance, Anders, who primarily sings classic rock, admitted the song was a bit out of his comfort zone. He said, “I don’t think my experience gives me a leg up at all.” In the end, the song proved to be a better match for Tate’s raspy voice.
Although Tate grew up singing and playing a few instruments, he’s never had real vocal training. He told Deseret News that the raspy quality of his voice comes from his early childhood days of constantly screaming and annoying his two older sisters. Getting some advice from Nick Jonas, one of his musical heroes, from the start was a bonus.
After the battle round, Kelly Clarkson told Tate, “You’re 16 [and] walking around with that rasp. I can’t stand you; you’re so cute. I’m a little worried about you for the finale, not going to lie, Tate.” Blake Shelton said he believed Tate had won the Battle round. He told him, “You have that rawness about what you do.” Although John Legend was impressed with Tate’s tone, he thought the young singer had a “limited range” and declared Anders the winner of the round. That left Nick to make the final decision.
Nick told Tate, “You are a phenomenal singer and there’s something about you that I’m drawn to. Perhaps it’s your care for your craft at such a young age. Because maybe I see a little bit of myself in you.” He chose Tate as the winner of the battle round. Tate commented, “I’m very grateful that Nick believes in me. I thought it was cool that he sees me in him. I can’t even speak.”
Tate will next compete in the pre-taped Knockout rounds that begin April 13. The first live episode of The Voice is scheduled to air 4 May 2020, but with TV productions being suspended and delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that schedule could likely change.