Above, Jacquez “Quizz” Swanigan won the chance to be coached by Alicia Keys after his soulful performance on NBC’s hit show, ‘The Voice.’
Talk about the best 14th birthday present ever.
Jacquez “Quizz” Swanigan, an eighth-grader at Porter Ranch Community School, made the cut during the Blind Auditions on Thursday’s “The Voice,” belting out a soulful cover of “Who’s Lovin’ You,” that won him a standing ovation from judges Alicia Keys and Gwen Stefani and the chance to move ahead in the career-making competition.
“When I sing, it’s like therapy – I feel good inside,” Quizz said in an interview on Thursday, his 14th birthday, and the day his pre-recorded audition aired on national TV. “It just brings joy to me. And when I sing for other people – I do it because I love it.”
Quizz was 13 when he successfully auditioned for the celebrity judges, earning becoming the youngest contestant on the show when he was chosen to become a member of Team Alicia.
Keys praised the “really, really powerful innocence” of the aspiring performer, adding, “I felt your heart, Quizz.”
Stefani said the teen brought a “new fresh” interpretation to the Michael Jackson classic, and then invited Quizz to bring his family – parents Courtney and Natalya and 8-year-old sister Jada – onto the stage.
It was Quizz’s dream of becoming a performer that brought the Swanigan family from Arkansas to Los Angeles. He had performed in Michael Jackson tributes and appeared in a couple of commercials and television series before “The Voice” casting director contacted his father and asked whether the effervescent youth would be interested in auditioning. He made it through the preliminary rounds, earning the chance to audition for the celebrity judges and to compete against other performers more than twice his age.
Although Quizz’ appearance wasn’t broadcast until the third night of this season’s Blind Auditions, he said he was actually the first singer chosen to perform.
“From the time I went on stage, I don’t remember a thing,” he said. “I looked out and saw the lights and the judges and the audience, and it was like I blacked out. But when I heard the music, I knew that things would be OK.”
Quizz said he’s not counting on “The Voice” to make or break his career, although he does want to do well as a tribute to the sacrifices his family has made for him. He’s already looking ahead to high school and to college beyond, with the dream of attending The Juilliard School or the Berklee College of Music.
“As long as I give it my all, that’s what’s important,” he said. “God does everything for a reason.”
Until then, Quizz has the support of his teachers and classmates at Porter Ranch Community School. Principal Mary Melvin describes him as a “delight,” noting that Quizz’s voice can often be heard echoing through the hallways as he walks between classes.
“Music flows through my veins and I just have to let it out,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve ever gone a day without singing a song.”