Before the sisters’ performance, they tearfully shared their story about how they sometimes felt excluded from groups, both Black and white, because they are biracial, daughters of a red-headed mother and an albino father.
After they sang, the Hamilton girls were lobbied hard by Clarkson and Legend to join their teams. The two other coaches didn’t turn around their seats to join in efforts to be their coaches, but singing superstar Ariana Grande expressed regrets afterward that she hadn’t spun her chair.
“My heart hurts,” Grande told them about that. “I’m so mad right now.”
Country singer Blake Shelton also didn’t turn his seat on the NBC show that aired Tuesday evening.
Marie, 14, and Macie, 15, who are from a multi-generational family of Gospel singers, were shown saying, “Oh, John Legend!” when they saw a large photo of him before their performance. “He’s from Ohio, too,” one said.
They explained in a pre-recorded interview they’re best friends who see themselves as pop Gospel singers who have long sung together in church. They then sang “Never Alone” in their blind audition, in which The Voice’s four coaches had to spin their seats in a bid to be their coach.
Legend was delighted to hear they were from Ohio.
“Hello, Cunningham sisters from Hamilton, Ohio,” Legend greeted them.
“We get it: They’re from Ohio, you’re from Ohio,” Clarkson told Legend.
“I’ve been to Ohio. My Mom was from Ohio,” Clarkson told the sisters, hoping to be their choice as a coach. “See how much we have in common?”
Legend noted he, like them, grew up singing in church, and told them, “I would love to be your coach.”
“You have so much in common, right, with John, right?” Clarkson told them. “But you’re here to learn new stuff. And I know how to navigate the competition.”
Clarkson started coaching before the girls chose to join her team: “You have to learn how to blend, and to let the other shine in moments. And I am really good at that.”
Legend said he loves working on harmonies with groups and taking advantage of singers’ voices: “I would love for you to be on Team Legend.”
In a surprise to Clarkson and Legend alike, “We pick Kelly!” they said.
“What?” Clarkson said. “Oh, my God! What?”
Clarkson said unlike in many singing groups, neither shone above the other, “and I’m just really excited about going through songs with them.”
In coming weeks, the pair will compete against other performers to be named the top talent, while being coached by Clarkson.
It’s the second time in recent weeks Hamilton youth have taken the national-television spotlight because of their skills. Earlier, the West Side Little League made history by becoming Ohio’s first team to make the final game of the Little League World Series. That team recently was honored by the city.
Plans already are under discussion by city officials to honor the sisters, Mayor Pat Moeller said.
“The city will be recognizing them at a special event,” he said. “Plans are being discussed now.”