A former president of the Virginia Gentleman has soared past 35 competitors to land in the top five performers on tonight’s finale of NBC’s “The Voice” signing competition, and is hoping some Wahoo love will help lead him to victory.
2016 University of Virginia graduate Micah Iverson is the sole remaining member of “Team Kelly” – as in mentor and musical super star Kelly Clarkson, who has sold more than 25 million albums and 40 million singles worldwide.
Iverson performed live three times at “The Voice’s” Los Angeles soundstage before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the country – and the show’s normal production. His last two performances, of Elton John’s “Your Song” and Death Cab for Cutie’s “I Will Follow You Into the Dark,” took place from his Atlanta home, with the celebrity mentors observing from their homes and viewers voting online.
It was the latter performance that landed him in the final competition. Surrounded by family, Iverson was visibly surprised to learn he had been voted through.
“I was surprised. When I set out on this musical journey, I did not think I’d get this far,” he said. “There are a lot of talented people on this show. I’m not trying to create a false sense of humility. This was a long shot for me. I was surprised that America voted me through.”
Tonight and tomorrow, he will perform three songs: a duet with Clarkson, an original song and another selected by the show’s producers.
Iverson said he feels good going into the finale and has worked hard in rehearsals with Clarkson. “I don’t know what the outcome is going to be,” he said. “Obviously, I’m grateful either way, but I’m really proud of my performances.”
He would also be grateful for some support from his alma mater. “If you’re at home and you’re not doing anything, turn on the television, go to NBC.com and vote for me,” he said.
Iverson said he is “incredibly grateful” for the support of the UVA community. “President Ryan even reached out to say he’s excited for me! All the Hoos have been really encouraging.”
Iverson is a member of an extraordinary family. He is one of nine siblings who were all raised in Tokyo by their missionary parents. Not only that – he and four of his siblings are UVA grads, and one of his older brothers, Joel, was also a president of the Virginia Gentlemen as a fourth-year student in 2002.
Iverson’s journey to the finale started March 13, when he performed Kodaline’s “All I Want” on “The Voice’s” blind audition show, in which celebrity judges Clarkson, Nick Jonas, John Legend and Blake Shelton sit with their backs to the performers and punch a button to spin around if they want to recruit a singer to their teams.
The song opens softy, with these lyrics:
“All I want is nothing more
To hear you knocking at my door
’Cause if I could see your face once more
I could die as a happy man I’m sure”
‘I Love This Already’ – Kelly Clarkson
As Iverson began to sing, Clarkson said effusively, “Oh, I love this already,” before his voice lifted to a crescendo accompanied by a heart-thumping, galloping bass drum. Iverson was only 40 seconds into his performance when Clarkson slammed her hand down on her button to swing around and see Iverson for the first time.
At that moment, the camera shifted to six members of Iverson’s family, including his tearful mother, Carol. Watching offstage, they erupted in cheers as Clarkson swayed happily to Iverson’s performance.
Just as the Wahoo was closing out his song, eyes closed, Jonas and Shelton both spun their chairs around. In a moving moment, Iverson opened his eyes to see that now three judges were vying to have him on their teams. He was visibly choked up.
The performance has been viewed nearly 6 million times on YouTube since that night.
“You’re my favorite kind of male voice, man,” Clarkson said. “It’s all heart. It’s all passion. You’ve got range for days.”
“Micah, your tone has this lovely, like ethereal kind of presence, and I think you should have been a ‘four-chair-turn’ and I regret not turning,” said Legend, an 11-time Grammy Award winner known for such songs as “All of Me.”
Iverson, who double-majored in English and religious studies at UVA, said he has always loved music, but “I just never gave it a serious chance,” he said during an interview in March following his winning blind audition.
“So it was affirming to hear that these famous people, who are really musically vocally talented, actually heard something in my voice that they thought they could work with – specifically, Kelly,” whom he chose as his coach.
It also didn’t hurt that Clarkson has also gone through a talent show as Iverson is doing right now. She was the very first winner of “American Idol” in 2002.
“She’s still musically relevant after all these years and she’s done this before. She knows what it’s like to go through a reality television show,” Iverson said.
Being a member of the Virginia Gentlemen helped Iverson develop his talent, he said.
“I was not that good when I first joined,” he laughed. “I had a lot of heart and a lot of passion, but technically, I was pretty undeveloped.
“They were like, ‘This kid’s OK. His brother was in the group, we’ll let him in,’” he recalled. “I think that’s where I learned a lot about vocal exercises, increasing my range and technique.”
Trying Out for ‘The Voice’
Iverson’s road to the “The Voice” started last fall after his very insistent best friend, fellow UVA grad (and fellow Virginia Gentleman) Israel Vaughan, convinced him to attend tryouts being held at a convention center in Atlanta. He decided to give it a shot literally right before the auditions began and stood in line along with thousands of other “Voice” hopefuls. He wasn’t holding out too much hope, but was excited to be called back for more auditions and eventually make it to the televised blind auditions.
His appearance on the show has created some fan sites, where admirers have dug up as much information as they can about him, including the fact that he went to Antarctica with the Virginia Gentlemen.
“It’s honestly so strange,” he said. “People I have never met know all these very specific details about my life. At the same time, it is flattering, and I’m honored that anyone would take interest in my musical journey.”
The singer said he really hopes people can find some comfort and solace by watching the show during these difficult times.
“I have a couple hundred direct messages from people I don’t know on Instagram, and some of them are incredibly uplifting,” he said. “Earlier today, an elderly woman messaged me. She said she is a small business owner who makes dresses and that she is pretty fearful of everything shutting. She said she’s had my song on repeat all day because, as small as it is, it’s something for her to focus on and listen to and she wrote me to thank me for that.
“I didn’t expect to have even that small impact, but I’m all the more grateful,” he said.
Viewers can vote for their favorite performers online or by using their Xfinity X1 remotes and following the on-screen prompts. You can vote up to 10 times per artist. “The Voice” finale airs tonight at 8 p.m. EDT.