It seems like everything’s coming up John Legend.
The award-winning R&B singer-songwriter just added another trophy to his mantle, as the coach of the newly-crowned winner of The Voice, Maelyn Jarmon. A 26-year-old Texas native, Jarmon had already won the hearts of millions of viewers with her stunning vocals – as well as through the incredible fact that her right ear is completely deaf!
In an interview with Hollywood Life, Jarmon said, “I have always considered [being deaf] a super power since I was young.” She was only two when the tubes that were supposed to treat an ear infection she’d come down with ended up damaging both her eardrums. This left her with no hearing in her right ear, and only 80% of it remaining in her left.
Despite this rare obstacle, Jarmon’s treatment of her handicap as a superpower has clearly paid off. Or at least, her partial deafness proved to be no obstacle to her winning the Season 16 title (and the $100,000 cash prize) on the ever-popular singing competition show. Indeed, the only thing that seemed like it might stop Jarmon from reaching this goal, once the show got down to its final four, was pure statistics: Maelyn was rookie coach John Legend’s lone remaining singer. Meanwhile, veteran coach Blake Shelton had a 75% chance of winning with his three worthy contenders, Gyth Rigdon, Dexter Roberts, and Andrew Sevener. (Adam Levine and Kelly Clarkson had no remaining competitors at this point.)
Though it was only his first year as a coach on the show, John Legend admitted that he wasn’t worried. “America has fallen in love with her voice and rightfully so,” he said of Jarmon. As we now know, he was right not to be too concerned. The pair’s combined talents made for an unbeatable powerhouse, which showed in the final vote tally.
The glory, rightfully, will go to Maelyn Jarmon. However, seeing Legend win as a coach was also a treat for those who have been wanting to see more recognition for hip-hop and R&B artists in shows like this one. Reality shows of this variety have achieved a sensational amount of success: There have now been 16 seasons of The Voice, and dozens more of shows like American Idol, X Factor, and Britain’s Got Talent. Some of these shows have even branched out more broadly into pop culture and entertainment: Britain’s Got Talent serves as a theme for one of Britain’s free slot games. People evidently enjoy the show enough that building a slot arcade around it can attract gamers. Meanwhile, The Voice’s play-along app has essentially made it such that fans can treat the competition like a game in real time. Additionally, virtually all of these shows have released albums, playlists, and seasons’ worth of streaming material for fans to enjoy.
Through all of this growth and exposure, though, there has indeed been very little space for hip-hop and R&B. Legend’s win shines a spotlight on this fact – and should also inevitably bring some focus back to his own long-rumored singing competition. Way back in 2017, it was announced that Legend was collaborating with Netflix to produce a hip-hop competition show called Rhythm + Flow. The idea seemed to lie dormant for a while, but we’ve now (finally) been given a few updates, such as news that Chance the Rapper, Cardi B, and T.I. will be the first judges of what has been affectionately nicknamed “rap’s American Idol.”
Suffice it to say John Legend’s future, competition-related projects, with Netflix and The Voice included, are worth watching out for. Time will tell if he can find another rare talent to win The Voice with, and if Rhythm + Flow can match the popularity of the singing competitions that have come before it.