Joe Maye, the Randallstown singer and contestant on NBC's singing competition series "The Voice," was defeated by fellow "Team Christina" member Kata Hay on Monday night in what was deemed one of the "most epic" knockout rounds of the season thus far. But it wasn't the end of the road for Maye.
Judge and country music singer Blake Shelton adopted Maye onto his team by using his very last "steal" of the season, keeping Maye in the competition despite Christina Aguilera choosing Hay as the knockout winner.
"I think what I saw develop just within that one performance is enough for me as a coach to say 'Man, this guy, he's got it in him,'" Shelton said on the show, noting that he has wanted Maye on his team since blind auditions. "Let's do this."
Maye performed a soul and rock-infused rendition of R&B singer The Weeknd's "Earned it" in the knockout round, which he said was the first time he felt he showcased his creativity as an artist. Hay, known for her love of country music, sang "Why Haven't I Heard From You" by Reba McEntire.
Maye said he was oddly at peace with Aguilera's decision.
"One of the things [Aguilera] said to me was she respected my performance so much and she respected my artistry. I was sad of course, but I just knew I was really at peace," Maye said in a phone interview with the Baltimore Sun on Tuesday afternoon.
But Shelton didn't make him sweat too long. A few words into Maye's goodbye to Aguilera and Shelton pressed his button, saying "Give me Joe!"
It was a surprise for Maye. The Randallstown native told The Sun in March that he initially envisioned himself being on Shelton's team, even though he had always looked up to Aguilera, who he picked as his judge during blind auditions.
"I've always wanted to be a part of Team Blake since I auditioned on Season 9," Maye said. "I've always admired him."
Now, Maye starts a new chapter on "The Voice." This time, on Team Blake.
Though he doesn't know whether he'll be singing country music like Shelton anytime soon, Maye is amped to bring a unique flavor to the show's stage in next week's live playoffs, and he's confident Shelton will embrace his choices.
"I think [Shelton] definitely understands the soul, rock alternative [music]. I think [Aguilera] was really pushing me to be an R&B artist, but ... I want to be more than R&B," said Maye.
Maye said he feels pressure to improve as the competition goes on.
"I'm always pushing every time I hit that stage to have an even better performance than I did the week before. I came out the gate at [the blind auditions] singing with Christina Aguilera," he said of his impromptu duet with the judge. "It's been a real challenge to match that performance."
In weeks to come, Maye said that viewers can expect to see the "fire" he had in the duet, especially once the live playoffs begin next week.
"This is where the voting comes into play," Maye said. "The song that I have for next week really shows me fully as an artist and is really in the direction that I want to go."