CSUEB student turns chairs on NBC’s The Voice

Bryan Cordova,
Managing Editor

California State University, East Bay student and former orientation team member Joe Tolo performed on The Voice season eight blind auditions Tuesday night. Tolo had two of four chairs turn during his rendition of “To Love Somebody.”

The Voice is a reality singing competition where four coaches, all with careers in the music industry, evaluate singers with the aim of creating an eight-person team. Unlike American Idol, the coaches are seated facing away from the performers in order to make the choice for their team members solely on their vocal ability.

Star coaches this season include Adam Levine of Maroon 5, pop artist Christina Aguilera, hip-hop mogul and artist Pharrell, and country artist Blake Shelton. If the coaches like what they hear from a performer, they choose them for their team by hitting a button to turn their chair. If a performer has more than one chair turn, it is up to them to choose which team they want to join.

Impressed within the first few moments of the song, Aguilera was the first to turn her chair for the last few seconds of the performance. With two chairs turned, both coaches made attempts to “win over” Tolo.

The Voice 1 Courtesy of Joe Tolo_WEBAguilera bonded with Tolo by harmonizing with him after asking him to hit the high note he sang during his song. Despite the fact that Shelton is a three-time winner of The Voice, Tolo chose to be on Aguilera’s team for the competition.

Before auditioning for the show, Tolo participated in numerous events on campus and won the East Bay Idol competition in 2012 during his freshman year.
In 2013, he performed with fellow student Megan Pineda, who was his duet partner throughout most of his performances at CSUEB.

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“As a singer, there’s this moment in a song where all the notes fit so well and harmonize beautifully and you get this feeling of satisfaction. That’s what it’s like with Joe. We just work so well together and have this unspoken musical bond,” said Pineda.

Tolo and Pineda continued to perform together as partners for orientations, Relay for Life, and even the PASA’s Filipino Culture Night “The Golden Sambugita” in 2014.

The pair created a YouTube channel that has garnered a few thousand views. Through YouTube, Tolo submitted an audition for The Voice’s Boot Camp Experience.
Over two thousand videos were submitted for the boot camp, and Tolo was able to use the opportunity for a shot at the blind auditions for The Voice. With his rendition of “Ordinary People,” Tolo won the position, and moved on to perform in front of a casting director. After another audition for a casting director in August 2013 Tolo secured his audition for the show’s eighth season.

Previously pursuing a degree in Nursing, Tolo has put his education on hold for this opportunity. In an interview with Tala Samoa, of Samoan News Sacramento, he said “If I don’t make it, I will thank God for the blessed opportunity and the amazing journey I was allowed to share with my mom. Then I will proceed with my education and get my degree.”

Tolo will move on to the Battle Rounds in a few weeks where he will sing against other members of Team Christina to keep his place in the competition. His blind audition song is available on iTunes for $1.29 and his YouTube video has garnered over 55,000 views in less than 24 hours since his performance.

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