It was a night of tough decisions and gut reactions on “The Voice” Wednesday when the contestants were narrowed down to the top 12 for Season 7. A combination of votes from the viewing public and special selections from the panel of four celebrity judges (Blake Shelton, Pharrell Williams, Gwen Stefani and Adam Levine) decided the talented singers' fates. As the competition gets more intense, we thought now would be a good time to get to know the remaining contestants. Below is a rundown, by team, of the top 12 2014 finalists.
Sugar Joans: This cover band singer has got both music and stardom in her blood. According to her bio on the website for “The Voice,” her father was a musician who appeared on Janet Jackson, Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer albums. She was Pharrell Williams' pick to advance to the top 12.
Luke Wade: “The Voice” stage may seem like a peculiar venue for someone for whom music is a second choice, but there’s no other place this former dancer belongs. For 10 years, Wade practiced dance at his mother’s studio in Fort Worth, Texas. Unfortunately, an accident left him blind in one eye and unable to continue his career. That’s when he decided to turn to music. It was a long journey, but he claims that music is now where he belongs and, apparently, America agrees.
Danica Shirey: Some sing for money, some sing for fame; Shirey sings to honor her father. She inherited her love of music from her dad, who worked as her manager until he died three years ago. After losing her best friend and collaborator, she took some time off from music to get married and have a child. Now she’s back, and America appears to love what they’ve seen of her so far.
Jessie Pitts: It doesn’t get more down-home than this Alabama farm girl. Growing up in a house of mostly boys, she learned everything about music and performing from her father. He built her first stage in a barn that they family owned, and Pitts hasn’t wandered far from the stage since. In addition to “The Voice,” she is attending music school and works for a recording label in Nashville. She was Shelton’s pick to advance to the top 12.
Craig Wayne Boyd: Nothing drives ambition like a hunger for success. Boyd seems to have that in spades after 10 years of struggling to break out as a country music performer. After picking up his first guitar at the age of four, Boyd hasn’t quit chasing his dream. According to his bio, if he can’t do it for himself, he’ll do it for his 2-year-old son.
Reagan James: Being a top 12 contestant on “The Voice” is stressful enough, but add high school to it and you’ll have an idea of what this Burleson, Texas, native is going through this season. Like many on this list, she grew up with her stepdad teaching her to play guitar. However, her biggest accolade is her former babysitter, someone named Kelly Clarkson, who won a similar singing competition a few years back and has found some success in the music industry ever since. Ever heard of her?
Chris Jamison: The only boy in a set of triplets, this Pittsburgh native works as his college’s mailman. He’s a musical theater major at Capital University in Ohio, but moonlights as the lead singer of a rock band. He’s hoping to take the next step from the collegiate stage to the national one and it looks like Adam Levine believes he can do it. Jamison was the judge's pick to advance to the next round.
Damien: This single-named singer form L.A. has a storied musical past. He’s well-educated, having performed with his father’s church before later upgrading to studying opera in college. After he graduated, he moved to L.A. to become an R&B musician. To pay the bills he took a job as a TSA employee at the Los Angeles airport. Unfortunately, he was present when a gunman opened fire on a crowd in the airport last year. After losing his friend and co-worker, Damien says he turned to music to get him through the incident.
Matt McAndrew: Breaking into the music industry can be difficult. Despite exhibiting a remarkable talent at a young age that landed him a four-year scholarship at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, McAndrew has been working two jobs to keep his head above water, which makes making pursuing a career in music almost impossible. He hopes “The Voice” will be just the exposure he needs to finally put his talent and education to good use.
Ryan Sill: A lot of people go to college only to discover that their passion lies in their extracurricular, not their major. Such is the case with Sill. He grew up with a mother who teaches vocal lessons, which meant performing in a lot of recitals with his sisters growing up. After going to college to become an engineer, he joined a campus a cappella group and soon decided to take a year off from school to see if he can make it as a singer. Gwen Stefani is helping reaffirm his decision by choosing him to advance to the top 12.
Taylor John Williams: It doesn’t get any more grassroots than this Portland native’s quest for fame. He was bitten by the singing bug after his high school teacher encouraged him to sing at his graduation. Since then, he’s been working at a bar and performing on the street as much as he can. So far America has put a proverbial dollar in his hat by advancing him to the next round.
Anita Antoinette: This Boston local has a bit of an ace up her sleeve coming into Season 7. She previously auditioned for “The Voice” during season three but was unable to get any of the judges to turn their chairs. However, according to her bio, she was advised by the judges to keep at it and try again. That time is now as America has voted her through to the top 12.
"The Voice" airs on Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. EST on NBC.