'The Voice': Pia Renee Channels Whitney Houston in Stunning Tribute to Her Late Mother
By Meredith B. Kile
Performing on The Voice is a heavy task for every contestant, but for Pia Renee, season 20 has been an intense emotional roller coaster.
The Chicago native returned for Knockout Rounds on Monday, but as she prepared for her powerful performance of "What the World Needs Now is Love," she shared with coach John Legend and this season's Mega Mentor, Snoop Dogg, why the song was so meaningful to her.
"Shortly after we got here to prepare for Battles, my mother passed away," Pia revealed.
"My mother represented and embodied love," the singer told the cameras, growing emotional as she explained how sad she was not to be sharing her experience on The Voice with her mom. "So while I'm performing, I will be thinking about her."
"Mama's smiling down on you right now," Snoop told the singer, "so you make her proud."
Pia's rehearsal performance even brought the emotion out of John and Snoop, who laughed as he admitted he was trying to "hold back my tears."
"You made me feel like Whitney [Houston] was up there for a minute!" the rapper exclaimed. "That's what we supposed to feel. Make this yours, sis!"
She certainly did when it was time to take the stage, wowing the coaches, bringing Kelly Clarkson to her feet and earning another Whitney Houston comparison from Nick Jonas.
"It was so beautiful," Kelly remarked of Pia's performance. "It sounded like you loved being the vessel for that message, and that's my favorite thing when you hear a singer and you can tell they've experienced tragedy or pain."
"People don't know how meaningful the song was to you," John agreed, sharing with the coaches that Pia's mother had recently died. "The fact that everyone on this dais felt it, and the fact that you managed to flawlessly deliver the song without getting overwhelmed by the emotion of it, it was remarkable."
Despite praise for teammate Ciana Pelekai -- who impressed the coaches with her performance of Lizzo's "Cuz I Love You" -- it was no surprise that Pia was named the winner of her Knockout and will more forward to the season 20 live shows.
"Moving forward makes me happy and relieved at the same time," Pia told the cameras after the performance. "It's overwhelming."
"It's hard to say which team that I like working with the best, because there's so much talent inside of each team," he marveled. "Each team has some unique singers and some unique artists that could possibly make it past the show. I know only one person's gonna win, but it seems like there's about six or seven record deals up in here."
See more in the video below. The Voice airs Mondays at 8 p.m. PT/ET on NBC.