Can’t Stop Watching: ‘The Voice’s’ Top 6, ‘Awkward Black Girl’ Maybe Headed to HBO, Prince Headlines Essence Music Fest & More

Matthew Schuler performs "When a Man Loves a Woman" on "The Voice." (Photo: NBC)

Selecting a winner on a competitive TV show is never easy. But it’s got to be done. Last week, we watched “Glee” star Amber Riley and her pro partner Derek Hough rightly–in my opinion–take home the mirrored ball trophy on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.” Yet people complained about their victory. So I can imagine what will happen on NBC’s “The Voice.” Each of the six artists on the singing series had to perform two songs, including one dedicated to someone special in their lives. The competition, as I’ve already said, is pretty high but I’ve outlined three performances that stood out to me the most from last night’s episode.

–As a Hall and Oates fan (I kept “Kiss On My List” in heavy rotation last summer), I enjoyed Cole Vosbury’s performing the duo’s “Rich Girl.” His voice was rich with just enough grit. The judges seemed to appreciate, too.

–Jamaica native Tessanne Chin’s rendition of Bob Marley’s classic “Redemption Song” was pretty good, too. She captivated the audience with her interpretation. “Redemption Song” has the same effect as Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” in that they’re both lyrically powerful and (unfortunately?) are relevant today.

–I actually prefer Matthew Schuler’s performance of One Direction’s “Story of My Life” than what he did with Percy Sledge’s “When a Man Loves a Woman.” He seemed more comfortable performing the former song than the latter. I will say that he loosened up toward the end of “When a Man Loves a Woman” but this young man is expected to surpass what he did with Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”

The fun continues tonight at 9 p.m. EST on NBC. Watch more here.

Check out the top six performers on “The Voice”
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Here’s what else is happening…
The Essence Music Festival will be doing it big next year. Prince will headline the New Orleans festival, which will mark its 20th anniversary. I’ve been to the festival and I know attendees will love this. Who doesn’t love the Purple One? What would make this even better? If Earth, Wind & Fire returned to close out the last night of the festival like they did for the first 15 years. Read more here. Speaking of legends, Oscar winner Halle Berry is developing a miniseries about African general Hannibal Barca with the History Channel. “Hannibal was not only the greatest African general to ever live,” Berry, who’s executive producing the project, said, “he may have been the greatest general, period. His story is an intricate and captivating ride and I’m thrilled to get this project off the ground with our partners at History.” I love that she’s doing this and trust the casting will be appropriate. As I’ve written previously and as “Black Nativity” director Kasi Lemmons recently reminded, the history of black people around the world is rich, varied and worth sharing–accurately. Read more about this teaming here. It seems that Issa Rae’s “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl” is headed to HBO, according to Madame Noire. If this is indeed true, it’s great news. Last summer, it was announced that Rae and Larry Wilmore, a former correspondent for “The Daily Show” had signed a deal with HBO for an unidentified comedy. I thought the first season of “ABG” was a very smart and well-done web series. It also was funny. I didn’t get into the second season but watched some of her other online projects. Good for you Issa! In other HBO news … Did you see Niecy Nash’s recent appearance on “The View?” The comedic actress and author dished with good friend Sherri Shepherd and co. about her role as Nurse Didi Ortley on HBO’s new dark comedy “Getting On.” The show follows the follies of a hospital’s geriatric wing. “She’s very grounded in this crazy world…Taking care of these patients is her priority, I don’t know if it’s everybody else’s priority, which makes it a comedy,” Nash says of her character. The show is hilarious and as far as workplace comedies go, it reminds me of earlier episodes of NBC’s “The Office”–if it was set in a hospital and on cable. One character in the second episode, the explosive Varla, portrayed by June Squibb, reminds me of a profanity-spewing cross between Shelley Winter’s Nana Mary on “Roseanne” and Vicki Lawrence’s Thelma Harper from “Mama’s Family.” Catch up on “Getting On” here.

Niecy Nash talks with the ladies of “The View” about “Getting On”
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On my watchlist? What I’m tuning in to see and what I’ll catch up with XFINITY On Demand…
“Jimmy Kimmel Live”: Zoe Saldana will be on tonight and I want to see what’s up with this black Latina. It airs at 11:35 p.m. EST on ABC. [Watch here]
 “Treme”: Tonight I continue my catch up on previous seasons of this HBO show via XFINITY On Demand. It airs Sundays at 9 p.m. EST on HBO. [Watch here]

The Hot List: Who/What’s Hot, Not
HOT: A Florida judge releasing Marissa Alexander, who spent three years in prison, after she was originally convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot at her abusive husband (She should’ve never been arrested and jailed.).
NOT: Adrian Briskey, 28, allegedly fatally shooting a fellow Alabama fan, Michelle Shepherd, 36, after the team lost to Auburn University because the victim wasn’t upset enough (You have to be kidding me!).

HOT: “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”  is South Africa’s all-time highest grossing picture since it debuted last week, according to reports (Way to go!).
NOT: Reports that more than 200 children were abused while in state custody in Massachusetts (This makes absolutely no sense. None.).
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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