TRAVERSE CITY — Ryan Whyte Maloney finally can spill the beans: he’s a bona fide contestant on “The Voice.”
Maloney’s blind audition for the TV reality competition aired Monday, the third night of blind auditions on the NBC show. The Traverse City native wore a black shirt, ripped jeans and red cowboy boots and turned all four judges’ chairs with his performance of the song “Lights.”
“Let me just tell you this about your voice: I freakin’ love it,” said judge and country music superstar Blake Shelton, who clapped in time to the music. “And I had pictures of you back there in my mind with a helium balloon. I don’t know how you get that high and look so studly up there.”
Judge Adam Levine gave Maloney a standing ovation and compared him to Steve Perry, front man for the ‘80s band, Journey.
Maloney chose Shelton to coach him for the remainder of the competition after a short battle between Levine, Shelton and fellow judges Usher and Shakira.
“I have two kids and my son would tell me to choose Team Blake,” he said, referring to children Presley, 2, and Prince, 5, who live with their mother in Florida.
Maloney, 33, lives in Las Vegas but grew up in Traverse City, where he played with various bands. He helped form “Indulge” and performed with the group all over the state and Ohio while working as a garbage truck driver.
Now he’s a regular on the Las Vegas circuit with his own band, which includes casinos and Gilley’s Saloon.
Maloney said show producers asked him to audition for “The Voice” after seeing YouTube video of his performances. After an initial audition in Las Vegas, he flew to Hollywood in October for the blind auditions.
“I walked in and did my thing and walked out with the stars aligned,” he said.