Within 12 seconds, coach John Legend turned his chair for Voice contestant Omar Jose Cardona, who decided to take on the 1983 Journey hit “Separate Ways” for his blind audition.
Soon after Legend turned, Blake Shelton followed along with Gwen Stefani and Camila Cabello, who lagged before hearing some of Cardona’s closing notes. Staying in key, Cardona surprised the judges with his bold song choice, hitting many of Steve Perry’s vocal notes on the song. Showing off his showmanship on stage, Cardona finished his performance by raising his mic in the air and getting a standing ovation from several coaches and the audience.
Following his performance, the 33-year-old Orlando, Florida native revealed that he has been singing professionally for 15 years and started his career as a session singer for Disney after graduating high school in 2007. Cardona is also the frontman of Epic Party Band, who has mostly performed as a band-for-hire at sporting events, on cruise ships, weddings, and other events, throughout the years.
Released on Journey’s eighth album, Frontiers, in 1983, “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 for six consecutive weeks and spent another four weeks at No. 1 on the Top Tracks chart. The song was also well known for its use in the 210 sci-fi film Tron: Legacy and in season four of Stranger Things.
“I haven’t heard a voice like that since the ’80s,” added Stefani after Cardona’s performance. “We never get to hear men sing like that anymore.”
Cabello explained to the singer why she was the last to turn her chair. “What can I add creatively to this that gets me excited?” said Cabello. “I turned around and saw you with the mic stand and was like, ‘Yeah, that’s my guy, obviously.’”
Legend told Cardona that he’s the kind of artist that could win The Voice. “You have crazy range that most male singers could never pull off,” said Legend. “There was something interesting about the little turns in your voice that were very soulful to me. It sounded like a church singer singing rock music sometimes.”
Shelton added, “We’re going to see a lot of super talented people, but we’re not going to see a lot of people coming at it from the angle that you’re coming from. I think there’s a demand for that within the country lane. I rock pretty hard.”
Before making his decision, Cardona told the judges that there isn’t much “true rock and roll anymore.” He added “As much as I am a pop artist, I really respect the ’80s music, so I would like to create a genre of pop and old-school rock.”
In the end, Cardona joined Team Legend.
Main Photo: Tina Thorpe/NBC