4 Artists Who Were Turned Down by ‘The Voice’

The Voice has yet to launch a Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood-calibre star from the competition, but since its inception in 2011, show producers have missed the mark with a few hopeful contestants and turned away several future stars before the Blind Auditions.

After trying to get on American Idol seven times and being rejected, Lainey Wilson also tried out for The Voice twice and never made it to auditions. “I never made it through, never made it past the first round,” said Wilson of her Idol experience. “I also tried out for ‘The Voice.’ I’m grateful my story ended the way that it did.”

Maren Morris was not only turned down by The Voice, but she also tried out for American Idol, and America’s Got Talent and was rejected by both. Kane Brown dreamed of auditioning on The Voice but instead tried to get in front of the judges on Idol and had a short-lived stint on The X Factor. Bebe Rexha, Tori Kelly, Colbie Caillat, Lady A‘s Hillary Scott, and more all met similar fates on the Idol circuit.

Along with Wilson, Maren, and others who never made their way onto The Voice, here are three artists who never made it to Blind Auditions and one who didn’t get the four coaches to turn their chairs.

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[RELATED: 4 Country Stars Who Were Turned Down by ‘American Idol’]

1. Anthony Ramos

Before becoming a guest Playoff Mentor for Reba McEntire‘s team during season 25 of The Voice, singer, and actor Anthony Ramos, who has starred on stage, in film, and on television, was turned down by the competition before starring in Lin-Manuel Miranda‘s Hamilton in 2015 and winning a Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album for the Broadway production a year later.

Ramos waited in the cold in New York for hours to audition and eventually sang a song by one of her fellow coaches for the producers. “I auditioned for this show and sang ‘Green Light’ (2008) by John Legend, who is one of my favorite artists of all time,” Ramos told McEntire. “The producer goes, ‘I want you to work on your breathing for a year and come back’ and my dreams were just crushed.”

Ramos added, “Having auditioned for the show and now being a mentor, it’s been a journey up to this point. So, I hope I have something I can say that’s helpful.”

[RELATED: Anthony Ramos Learns to Trust Himself as a Songwriter on ‘Love and Lies’]

2. James Arthur

Before winning The X Factor in 2012 and topping the charts in the UK, British singer and songwriter James Arthur didn’t make it far on The Voice. He didn’t even make it to the audition phase with the coaches. After his miss on The Voice, Arthur auditioned for The X Factor, was mentored by Nicole Scherzinger, and won the show by beating contestant Jahmene Douglas.

[RELATED: James Arthur Teases Most Honest Album To-Date ‘It’ll All Make Sense in the End‘]

Arthur went on to have two No. 1 albums and hits, including his 2016 single “Say You Won’t Let Go” peaking at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topping the UK chart.

3. Maddie Poppe

In 2016, Maddie Poppe released an independent album titled Songs from the Basement and made it to the Blind Auditions on the tenth season of The Voice. For her audition, Poppe performed Florence + the Machine‘s “Dog Days Are Over” but didn’t get any of the coaches—Blake Shelton, Christina Aguilera, Pharrell Williams, and Adam Levine—to turn their chairs.

“I was totally rejected on national TV and it was really embarrassing,” recalled Poppe in a 2019 interview. “It was so discouraging, and I thought, ‘Man, if these people don’t like me, then no one will.’”

Despite the rejection, Poppe tried again when American Idol returned in 2018 and won the competition. A year later, she released her debut album, Whirlwind, and her Christmas from Home EP in 2020.

4. Luke Combs

When Luke Combs auditioned for The Voice, he underestimated how big the competition was. “I didn’t understand how much of a whole thing it was gonna be,” said Combs in a 2022 interview, calling the early audition process a “cattle call.” He added, “There were thousands of people there.”

Combs decided to wait for hours for his chance to try out, while surrounded by hopeful contestants warming up. “There’s people singing,” said Combs of his experience. “They’re singing, and everybody is singing together, and I’m sitting there like ‘This is a nightmare.'”

When Combs was finally called up to sing for producers he was initially asked to stay for a few more pre-auditions. At first, Combs sang John Legend’s 2006 song “Save Room” and then wanted to sing a country song for his next audition. “They were like ‘Oh, you didn’t do a country song before,'” said Combs. “I’m like, ‘So I have to sing one kind of [music]? The show is just about being a singer.’ There’s got to be some sort of angle.”

[RELATED: Country Flashback: Luke Combs Discusses His Killer Cover of John Anderson’s 90s Hit “Seminole Wind”]

Combs made his way through the preliminary auditions but never made it to Blind Auditions. “Essentially, I got a letter back after the next audition, which I made through,” said Combs. “Then they told me essentially I was ‘too boring’ to be on television.”

In 2020, former Voice coach Blake Shelton was disappointed after hearing about Combs’ past rejection. “There’s no way around it,” said Shelton. “It’s embarrassing. I mean, Let’s just face it.”

Shelton added, “Luke told me that he kept his rejection letter, his letter saying we’re not gonna put you on the show. He said he put that in his dorm room in college and he hung it on the wall to push him on, something to fight for. I don’t know if he still has that letter or not, but if he does, I think he should frame it and put it next to his first triple-platinum album.”

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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