UArts Student Absolutely Dazzles All Four Judges on NBC’s The Voice

Meet (and hear) Elkins Park's NariYella. Plus: Somebody dropped out of the mayor's race.

Elkins Park's NariYella, a UArts student, on The Voice this week (Photo by: Casey Durkin/NBC)

Elkins Park’s NariYella, a UArts student, on The Voice this week (Photo by: Casey Durkin/NBC)

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Watch UArts Student NariYella Wow the Judges on The Voice

I want to say one thing from the outset: I stopped paying attention to reality shows (well, except Naked and Afraid) and TV talent competitions (well, except AGT when they have a really good magician) back in the days when we thought we could do no worse than George W. (Ha!) But when a colleague sent me a video of 20-year-old UArts student NariYella performing on this week’s episode of The Voice, I stopped everything I was doing and watched it twice.

I’ve never seen The Voice, but I gather that there are blind auditions where the celebrity judges can’t see the person auditioning; they can only hear them. And then, if a judge likes what they hear, they hit a button and their chair spins around, this signaling the singer that said judge wants them to join their team and be coached by them. (If I got any of that wrong, I’m sure you’ll email me.)

Well, on this week’s blind audition, NariYella stepped up to the microphone and belted out the dramatic “One Night Only” from Dreamgirls. Within about fourteen seconds, judges Kelly Clarkson and Chance the Rapper turned around, and fellow judges Niall Horan and Blake Shelton were soon to follow. After the song, Chance the Rapper declared the performance “incredible” and deemed NariYella a very “tenured” singer. “It’s shocking to me how powerful you are,” chimed in Shelton.

Reached on Wednesday evening, NariYella — who graduated from Cheltenham High School and now majors in vocal performance — told Philly Mag that her biggest musical influences are Etta James, Whitney Houston, and Beyoncé, and all three of those influences are readily apparent in her performance, below.

“It felt surreal and shocking!” NariYella told me of the moment when the fourth chair turned around. (The “four-chair turn” is, I’m told, a rarity on The Voice). “Although I envisioned getting a four-chair turn as a possibility, I was still slightly taken aback after the fourth coach turned around.”

Next week, NariYella performs in the “battles” portion of The Voice. Meanwhile, watch NariYella crush it with her audition:

Speaking of Local Talent #1 …

Congrats yet again to Melissa Klapper, the Merion Station professor who continued her series of wins on Jeopardy Wednesday night. But this win was a bit different than her first two wins earlier this week. One of the other contestants on Wednesday night had a decisive lead late in the “Double Jeopardy” segment of the show and could have sailed through to victory so long as she didn’t do anything stupid. But stupid is exactly what she did, if pundits on the internet are to be believed. She landed on the final Daily Double, bet way too much money, gave the wrong response, and therefore blew her lead, giving Klapper the edge in Final Jeopardy. Watch Klapper continue to defend her crown on Thursday night at 7 p.m. on ABC.

Speaking of Local Talent #2 …

Congrats are also in order for hometown hero Questlove. The Roots drummer, music historian, and all around genius just landed his own book imprint with Macmillan Publishers. He’s calling the imprint AUWA Books, and his first release is the amusingly titled Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin), a Sly Stone (as in Sly & the Family Stone) memoir, due out in October.

“For as long as I can remember folks have been asking me to tell my story,” said Stone in a statement on Wednesday. “I wasn’t ready … It’s been a wild ride and hopefully my fans enjoy it too.”

“I have been writing books for over a decade, so it seemed like a natural step to publish them too,” Questlove added in a statement.

Other books getting the AUWA imprint include Hip-Hop Is History and Handbook for the Revolution: The Essential Guide for Workplace Organizing.

We’ll be reading.

Do You Know How to Eat a Cheesesteak?

Not everybody does, apparently. So filmmaker Colin Comstock, who, since 2016 (!!!) has been making a documentary about cheesesteaks, released this snippet from said documentary that tells you everything you need to know:

Political Movements

Last week, I told you about a guy named John Wood who drew top ballot position in the upcoming mayoral primary. I raised some important questions about Wood. So did Chris Brennan at the Inquirer. One week later, no more John Wood. He dropped out of the race, saying he couldn’t compete with all the big bucks others have raised.

That’s verrrrrrry good news for Cherelle Parker, because she drew ballot position two. And when ballot position one drops, everybody moves up one spot, making Parker first on the ballot. Part of me wonders if those who drew particularly bad ballot positions would cry foul and call for a do-over. Alas …

And because so few voters seem to educate themselves on judicial candidates, I’m very glad that Spotlight PA put together this handy guide to all the people running for the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court. Kind of a big deal, ya know?

By the Numbers

250: Number of expectant mothers in neighborhoods with disproportionate rates of infant mortality who are set to receive guaranteed income throughout their pregnancy (reportedly up to $1,000 per month) through a new Philly Joy Bank pilot program.

$1 million: Cost to slowly roll a “historic gas station” from 20th and Arch streets about two miles to a new site in Fairmount Park on Wednesday night.

30%: Decrease in overall carjackings in Philadelphia when comparing 2023’s year-to-date totals to the same time period last year.

30%: Increase in carjackings in Northeast Philly when comparing 2023’s year-to-date totals to the same time period last year.

$39,000: Funds raised by Society Hill residents to hire their own private security guard for the neighborhood.

Ramadan Mubarak!

This seems like a good time to tell you how to find the best halal restaurants in Philadelphia.

And from the That’s-a-Blowout Sports Desk …

The Sixers faced the Bulls again on the road following an ignominious home loss to them on Monday. Did you know we clinched a playoff berth on Tuesday, courtesy of … the Brooklyn Nets’ loss to the Cavaliers? Man, that team that took Ben Simmons off our hands just keeps giving and giving. (He’s missed 14 straight games, BTW, and may be out for the season.) Starters last night: Embiid, Maxey, Harris, Melton, House. James Harden was out with his Achilles woes, as was Jalen McDaniels with that eternal hip bruise. Our fellows must have been pissed about that loss, because they raced out to a 17-0 lead.

End of the first: 36-23. The second quarter brought a couple of technical fouls on the Bulls, who were now pissed off and embarrassed, and then more of the same. Holy moly, it was the biggest halftime lead of the season for the Sixers.

The third quarter was something else again. “Is this a playground game?” my husband wondered, as fouls were traded back and forth and the defense got super-sloppy. Didn’t much matter; the Sixers were up by 20 at the start of the fourth. Embiid hadn’t played any of the second half. He didn’t play in the fourth, either, which meant the end to his streak of 30-plus-point games. That’s okay; Big Guy needs the rest. Hard to believe this team took the Sixers to double overtime last game. Final: 116-91.

The Phils dropped one to the Rays, 6-2, in Florida yesterday. What a weird up-and-down spring they’re having. They’ll go up against the Tigers today at 1:05.

The Flyers will also play.

All Philly Today Sports Desk coverage is provided by Sandy Hingston.