The Voice Australia: Henry Olonga forgets words during knockout


The Voice is an intimidating, pressure cooker environment where only the best progress.

But Australia’s blind audition reality singing show still manages to throw up surprises.

Tonight, it was Henry Olonga’s turn to suffer at the crippling hands of that old entertainment industry adversary: stage fright.

The former Zimbabwe test cricket team member turned crooner was tasked by judge and team mentor Kelly Rowland to churn out Elton John’s “Can You Feel The Love Tonight?” from The Lion King.

“The song that Kelly’s given me to sing is ‘Can You Feel The Love Tonight?’ I’m gonna put all my energy and all my resources, by singing with all I’ve got, giving my best and singing with passion,” Henry said before the performance.

The singer said he had to leave his country after standing up to a dictator and fleeing into exile.

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media_cameraHenry gets stage fright … or something.

He started shakily, then, as he forgot the words, he said: “Oh, sorry. Oh, God. No.”

Despite the judges rallying behind him to keep going, Henry felt deflated.

He tried again, but then said: “I can’t do this”, which took Rowland by surprise.

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media_cameraJudge Kelly Rowland reacts to Henry’s inability to continue. Picture: Channel 9/Twitter

“You got it. Breathe. Henry, breathe. You’ve got this. You’ve rehearsed. This is the moment you’ve been working hard for. OK? Don’t overthink it,” Rowland coached.

When Henry collected himself, he tried again and this time, the place erupted with applause.

After the song, judge Boy George tried to lift the mood.

”Those songs are tough to do. I wouldn’t do it. And, by the way, Henry, I’m always forgetting lyrics – even things I’ve written myself, I forget all the time,” Boy George offered some comfort.

After much deliberation and a few ad breaks, it was time for Rowland to decide.

“The artist that I feel like I’m going to take through… ..really, really needs me in this juncture in their career. And that is Henry.”

Henry was gracious in success.

“It’s insane. It’s insane. I’m so grateful, Kelly. Thank you so much for believing in me, in spite of what happened tonight,” Henry said.

Originally published as No time to lose your voice … on The Voice



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