Malik Heard doesn't usually worry when he's performing. But when coach Christina Aguilera chose his competitor over him during a magnificent battle round on The Voice, there it was.
"Yes, I was nervous," the Rowlett resident said. "I just took a deep breath and I prayed ..."
He didn't have to hope and pray long. Instead of going home, coaches Adam Levine, Blake Shelton and Pharrell Williams all wanted to steal him for themselves.
"I definitely feel like you don't deserve to go home. You definitely have something special," Williams, the eventual winner, told Heard later.
"I was mind-blown that all three of them wanted me," he said. "I chose Pharrell because not only did he turn for me in the beginning, but he's an amazing producer. He has a kind heart and he cares about each artist on the show. I feel like he's the best coach to take me to the next level."
And now Heard is ready and waiting for whatever comes in the "knockout" rounds, which start tonight on NBC5 at 7.
The steal wasn't much of a surprise to regular viewers of the reality TV competition show. Heard had sparked a war of words between the judges after his blind audition. He chose to slay Nick Jonas' "Chains" because he connected with its meaning.
"[People] are just waiting on that yes," Heard said. "As long as you get those nos, you feel like you're chained. But I know I could do anything; the sky was the limit."
He's done a lot already. He was a four-sport athlete -- football, track, basketball and swimming -- all while performing, too.
"It wasn't really hard for me," he said, "because I was doing two things I loved."
Just recently, he decided to focus on singing; after graduating from Sachse High School, he's now majoring in Vocal Performance (natch) at Texas A&M-Commerce.
His supportive parents are former athletes, too, and their dreams followed his to singing.
"I've been performing for a long time, since I was 8 years old. It all started when I was in a Christmas program and I was chosen to sing 'Silent Night'," he said. "My parents had no idea I could sing. Once I opened my mouth, my parents were blown away."
Just as the judges have been. And now, even the people. His version of "Chains" put his name on the charts.
And his battle round performance of "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" with Bryan Bautista is still on the charts and is at 1 million YouTube views and counting.
"To make it to the charts was definitely surreal," he said. "Not every day someone can wake up and say, 'Oh my gosh, my song is on the charts'."
The love from the charts and fans is well-deserved: Aguilera admitted that her choice was a hard one after the performance that lived up to the hype from producer-host Carson Daly that it was one of the greatest Voice battles in the show's 10-year history.
Maybe now Shelton will learn how to pronounce his name?
Heard laughs. "If it's anybody that you want to mess up your name," he said, "then it's good that it's Blake Shelton."