It’s quite a journey from Pakistan to “The Voice” stage.
Pakistani singer Tasha Jessen, who now lives in Colorado Springs, wowed judges Monday during blind auditions on the season premiere of the NBC singing competition. Three of the four judges — country superstar Blake Shelton, Chance the Rapper and former One Direction member Niall Horan — all turned their chairs for her during her soulful rendition of Leon Bridges’ hit “River,” indicating they each wanted her on their team.
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“I can’t explain how amazing that was. I saw two turn. Two is great — I just made it into the show,” said Jessen, who taped the episode in the fall. “Then Chance turned around and oh my goodness. To have three of the most influential people in the industry right now think my voice is worthy to be heard is such an honor.”
After making the cut, singers must choose a coach. Shelton told the 21-year-old: “Your voice is hard to define, which is the best thing you could have going for you.”
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The sweet talk worked. Jessen went with Shelton, thanks also to it being his last season on the show and because he did his signature move of pointing his index finger at the top of his head.
“I‘ve always watched Blake and his legacy and to be on his last team ever seemed like such a big deal,” Jessen said. “I think I’ll stand out as a soul singer. I said if Blake points I will pick Blake. I had to, even though Niall had a cute face and was so sweet and being so kind to me.”
Jessen will next appear during battle rounds, which begin March 27. The show airs at 7 p.m. Mondays and 8 p.m. Tuesdays on NBC. Her pilgrimage to fame has come with many challenges. When she was 12, her family left Pakistan to escape religious persecution and immigrated to Thailand as refugees, and then to Ontario, Canada. Her parents, who were singers and recording artists, still live in Canada, where they’re close to achieving Canadian citizenship.
Jessen moved to the Springs in 2021 thanks to her husband, a Colorado native whom she met in Thailand where he was a missionary. Born in Durango, his family moved to Woodland Park and then to the Springs about four years ago. Jessen, who works as a showings agent for a property management company, hopes to receive her U.S. citizenship next year.
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Being on “The Voice” stage was rewarding for the longtime singer, who used to watch the show with her parents. They’d tell her she’d be up there someday, but she always demurred. She decided to go for it to honor her parents, to follow her passion and to be a role model.
“It was a full circle moment to have them live vicariously through me and see their dreams come alive,” Jessen said. “It was for my family and to prove myself and to represent to my community of little brown girls that it’s possible. There are no limitations and no boundaries. You can do whatever you put your mind to. You just have to believe in yourself.”
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