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  • Writer's pictureEmma Garrie

Johnny Manuel through to the Grand Finale on The Voice Australia

Johnny Manuel, who as an American performed at Eurovision as part of Bulgaria's 2018 entry Equinox, has made it through to the Grand Finale of The Voice Australia.

Manuel, who now lives on the Central Coast of New South Wales with his partner, was put through to the finale by the coaches rather than the public.

This was the first time in the show's history that the public didn't choose the Grand Finale acts.

In tonight’s pre-recorded episode the eight remaining artists all sang one song each with only one artist from each team able to move through. In previous seasons, the semi final has always been broadcast live, usually preceded by a number of live shows but this hasn’t been possible in the 2020 season due to COVID-19 restrictions.

In this round, the coaches regained the power to choose the songs for their artists. Coach Guy Sebastian gave Johnny the iconic 1964 song ‘Change is Gonna Come’ by Sam Cooke and surprised him by inviting his partner Chris in to the mentoring session for support. Johnny was delighted with the song choice saying the song meant a lot to him as a person of colour because its message was so powerful. Guy’s main advice to Johnny during rehearsals was focus more on storytelling and less on being polished and perfect.

As in the showdowns, Johnny was the last performer of the night. He wowed the coaches and was moved to tears at the end of his performance. He told viewers he’d grown up with the song and there was still so much inequality even though it was over 50-years-old.

Coaches Delta Goodrem and Kelly Rowland were also visibly moved with Kelly telling Johnny that he sang from the depths of his soul and that his performance was so powerful her soul needed to hear it. Guy felt Johnny’s performance was so fitting, passionate, peaceful and thought-provoking and told him he was honoured to have him on his team.

At the end of the show, each coach announced which of their two artists they were putting through to the Grand Finale. Guy told Johnny he was a once in a generation singer and he felt he had unlocked something in his performance which had moved them all. Whilst admitting he struggled with his decision, Guy chose Johnny to progress over teammate Timothy James Bowen. Johnny was overwhelmed with emotion and said he hoped he had touched and moved people because that was what he wanted to do.

Sadly it was the end of the road for 2016 Eurovision backing singer Masha Mnjoyan who was eliminated from the competition. Masha, who backed Armenia’s Iveta Mukuchyan in Stockholm was originally eliminated in the Battle rounds by Kelly Rowland but saved by Boy George. She made it through the Play-Offs to the Showdowns where her version of Tina Arena’s ‘Chains’ impressed Boy George enough to put her through to the Semi-Final. But tonight she said goodbye as he chose her teammate Siala Robson to go through.

Also moving through to the Grand Finale are Chris Sebastian (Team Kelly) and Stellar Perry (Team Delta). Voting is now open for Australian viewers who can vote right up until the end of the last Grand Finale performance.


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