Not one, not two, not three, but four chairs turned for Meridian’s own Todd Tilghman in season 18 of “The Voice” blind auditions premiere Monday night.
As the first contestant on stage, Tilghman wowed judges Blake Shelton, Kelly Clarkson, John Legend and rookie Nick Jonas with his rendition of Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band’s “We’ve Got Tonight.”
Clarkson likened Tilghman’s voice to the raspy sound of Chris Stapleton and Kenny Rogers, Shelton commented that he loved his passion and range. Shelton also said he had a great hop – the “holy hop.”
Tilghman ultimately chose Shelton as his coach and will be on Team Blake as the season continues.
“All of the coaches are so established in the music field and I felt like any of them could help me in that regard, but Blake on a personal level seemed more like me,” Tilghman said. “He likes to joke and cut up and that’s how I do in my life. He’s just more like me as a person.”
Tilghman described the experience of competing on the show as surreal.
“They tell you backstage that you are going to take that stage with total silence and I was so nervous, but when I got on stage I felt remarkably calm,” Tilghman said. “But once the chairs started turning all the plans went out the window and I just sang the song.
“I took a deep breath and I guess the rest is history.”
Tilghman, a 41-year-old father of eight, said his decision to audition wasn’t easy. He is the lead pastor of Cornerstone Church in Meridian, where he grew up, and is married to his high school sweetheart.
“I signed up, but that was a long time before the audition process,” Tilghman said. “Before it was time to go I had decided not to go – making excuses like it was a long drive and we had a lot going on.
“My wife, Brooke, told me I would regret it if I didn’t go. Thank God for her and thank God I changed my mind and decided to go. It’s been like a dream. Everyone keeps telling me to just soak it in, but it’s hard to do because you just can’t believe you are really there.”
Blind auditions continue at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 25 on NBC.