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The Voice’s EP Audrey Morrissey talks Kelly Clarkson, the 'Block' and ‘Songland’


I had the distinct pleasure of traveling to Hollywood, CA last week for an NBC Press Junket where I interviewed executive producer of The Voice—-Audrey Morrissey. The hugely successful music competition series is back for a 14th season and includes some new features and a new face—-Kelly Clarkson. The three-time Grammy Award winning vocalist joins existing coaches—-Adam Levine, Alicia Keys and Blake Shelton—-for what already appears to be a competitive season. For Morrissey, adding Clarkson to the mix has been a complete joy for her and hopefully the show’s viewers. 

“Kelly brings Kelly! She is a force of nature and is completely unfiltered. She is what you see. I think her sort of joy and energy is infectious. She just sort of wears her emotions on her face and you know exactly what she’s thinking. She’s quick witted. She jumps up and down. She’s really grounded and hilarious. So that’s what she brings. I don’t think we’ve really had a personality quite like Kelly before,” says Morrissey. 

In addition to Clarkson, Morrissey was also eager to chat about the show’s two new features for the coaches including—-the “block” and the “save.” The “block” is a button on each coach’s chair that allows him or her to block another coach from taking a perspective singer. Clarkson used it against Keys during this past week’s blind audition episode. Morrissey compares it to a defensive move often seen in sports. 

Credit NBC
Audrey Morrissey, executive producer of NBC's "The Voice"

“We really liken the show to sports because we have coaches and we have artists and teams. We also have steals and we have battles. So we’ve always looked to sports as a muse and a filter to which we run ideas. We realized that we never had a defensive move. So we decided to explore that and we came up with the block, which we really like. We ran it by the coaches first and they love it. They were like, ‘Oh, wow! A block! I can’t wait to use my block. Finally a block. Where has it been all my life?’ So we've added it and it’s been really interesting to see how it’s being played out. It definitely added a new dynamic which is what we wanted to do,” said Morrissey.

The second feature is the “save” and will be introduced during the Knockout rounds. “Coaches would be crushed because they couldn't keep some of their best people. Just through the mechanics of the game, they had to give somebody up. So they would say, ‘God, can’t we have a save or something? Why can’t I just save? I can’t call it! I want you both. Like why can’t we do that Audrey?’ So we finally were like let’s try it.” 

Morrissey also revealed that she is teaming up with coach Adam Levine plus David A. Stewart and Annie Lenox of the iconic duo the Eurythmics for a new competition series titled Songland. It will be a companion show to The Voice and will focus on songwriters. 

Each week, unsigned songwriters will come and pitch their songs to established artists. The songwriters will get to a chance to work with them along with a panel of top producers to rework the song which will be cut and released.  The show was birthed out of Morrissey’s daily interaction with songwriters for The Voice

UPFRONT will keep you posted as that show continues to develop.  

Ray Cornelius is one of Atlanta’s newest entertainment writers and media personalities. His arts and entertainment website, www.raycornelius.com spotlights the latest in “positive” African-American celebrity news and was established in 2012. Since that time Cornelius has covered a myriad of red carpet premieres, award shows and Atlanta-based films including Tyler Perry’s Temptation, The BronzeLens Film Festival, The Trumpet Awards, and The Steve Harvey’s Neighborhood Awards just to name a few. He has also interviewed a who’s who list of today’s top singers, actors and reality stars. With nearly 20 years of media experience, Cornelius has also worked as an associate producer for the Emmy-winning public affairs program, ATL Insider and with such award shows as The Soul Train Awards, The Trumpet Awards and BET Hip-Hop Awards.