Lincoln’s Bryan Olesen performs Monday on “The Voice”


Bryan Olesen performs One Republic’s “Love Runs Out” during his blind audition on NBC’s “The Voice.” He will be in the playoff round of the singing contest at 7 p.m. Monday. 

Bryan Olesen believed his time on “The Voice” was over after he and Nathan Chester sang Adele’s “Rollin’ in the Deep” in the first of the NBC TV singing contests “battles” this season.

John Legend, his coach, picked Chester as the battle winner, keeping him on his team, which meant Olesen was on his way back to Lincoln. Or so he thought.

“When he picked Nate and I felt good about my performance, I felt like, ‘OK,’ and, ‘I’ve said my goodbyes,'” Olesen said. “I’m walking down the stairs and you can’t hear the button (pushed by the coaches). All of a sudden, I hear the crowd kind of scream, I’m looking around and I see the ‘Steal,’ so someone’s stolen me. Then Carson Daly is saying, ‘Get back up here.’ Then I realized Reba (McEntire) and Dan + Shay hit their ‘Steal’ buttons.”

But Olesen didn’t end up joining either the teams of McEntire or country pop music duo Dan + Shay. Legend hit his “Playoff” button that not only kept Olesen on “The Voice,” but sent him past the knockout round into the playoffs.

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“That was just overwhelming,” Olesen said. “All these streamers come down, I kept one as a keepsake. Then I realized, ‘Wow, I’m in,’ and what an honor to get the playoff pass since we were the first performers that day. John Legend only has one playoff pass and he gave it to me, right out the gate.”

The playoffs begin Monday and Olesen will appear on the 7 p.m. episode, his performance recorded in advance as he’ll be at the Bourbon Theatre for “The Official The Voice Watch Party: Hometown Celebration.”

Getting on “The Voice” wasn’t something that Olesen had ever considered.

The frontman of the band Casting Pearls, which changed its name to Vota, Olesen recorded and toured with the Christian rock band, which was being considered for a record label run by Newsboys, arguably the biggest band in contemporary Christian music.

“They were looking to sign our band, but then I got the call one day to go play guitar for them,” Olesen said. “That turned into just three wonderful years of traveling all over the world playing guitar with Newsboys.”

But Olesen realized that to support his family, he’d have to be continually on tour. So he left Newsboys and returned to Lincoln, where he worked as a music worship pastor at Lincoln Berean Church and continued to front Vota.

Which indirectly led to Olesen auditioning for “The Voice” last year.

“It was a fluke,” he said. “Honestly, I’ve never applied for any show like this before. I play in a band called Vota and my drummer forwarded me an email and said, ‘You should do this.’ Literally, my first response was, ‘I don’t feel like going into an arena and waiting 14 hours with a bunch of teenagers for my turn to audition.'”

But Olesen discovered that auditions were online, singing for 90 seconds on a Zoom call where the audition producers can see the contestant but not vice versa. So Olesen signed up for an audition — “When I tried to do the online, the computer wasn’t working right. It was four minutes late and I almost shut the laptop, thinking, ‘What am I doing? This is silly.’ But at the last second, it worked.”

That audition led to Olesen being selected to go to Los Angeles for the “Blind Auditions” where he sang One Republic’s “Love Runs Out.” Utilizing his show business experience, Olesen rewrote the template producers sent him for the song, changing it from verse, chorus, verse, chorus to an a cappella opening with lyrics from the third verse and the band coming in on the chorus.

Then came taping of the audition in front of the four coaches and a studio audience.

“I don’t normally get nervous for shows, I’ve done this a long time,” he said. “But that format is pretty crazy. You walk up there and the audience is completely silent. All I can hear is my boots as I’m walking to the microphone. I’m like, ‘Here we go, I’ve got to lock in.’ That beautiful sound you hear when they hit the button, that’s all post-production. So I couldn’t hear them. But as I’m singing, I saw John’s chair turn, then Dan + Shay. It was a relief of ‘I’m in.'”

Getting picked for Legend’s team, however, wasn’t Olesen’s biggest blind audition moment. Asked if music runs in his family, Olesen told Dan + Shay that his daughter Jaydn was in the audience and was a singer.

Called to the stage, Jaydn, who sings with the band AM/FM, took the microphone and started singing Corrine Bailey Rae’s “Put Your Records On,” then was joined by her dad and the band, bringing Chance the Rapper and the other coaches to their feet, clapping, dancing and singing along with the father and daughter.

“That moment was one of the best in my life,” Olesen said. “I was so proud of her because she literally came up and sang a capella in front of these four superstars, five superstars, and this studio audience and just did so well.”

AM/FM will be playing at Monday’s watch party, which is free and will begin at 5:30 p.m. The Hometown Celebrations are put together by “The Voice” for the playoff contestants.

“I love Lincoln,” he said. “Lincoln’s always been home, and now I love that I get to represent Nebraska. There’s a few contestants from big music cities like Nashville, and I’m the only one from Nebraska. So that makes it really fun and special to represent our state. I hope Lincoln will show out Monday, show the country what it’s like here, how we love music and support each other.”

Bryan Olesen performs OneRepublic’s “Love Runs Out” during The Voice Blind Auditions.

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The Voice welcomes its first-ever coaching duo… and an all-new double chair! Award-winning country pop artists Dan + Shay join returning coaches Reba McEntire, John Legend and Chance the Rapper in the search for the country’s best undiscovered singers.

Bryan Olesen’s Shockingly Powerful Voice Gets Instant Chair Turns | The Voice | NBC

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