It’s challenge week on “The Voice,” which means the top 10 contestants were tasked with singing a song outside of their comfort zone.
For 28-year-old Joshua Vacanti, that meant an R&B ballad. Vacanti’s coach John Legend assigned him “If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys, which Vacanti said “terrified” him at first (he’s stuck to pop and musical theatre songs thus far in the competition). But Vacanti found a personal connection to the song and delivered a performance that impressed the coaches.
The night of the live show, November 29, happened to be Vacanti’s second wedding anniversary with his wife, Sam Olewnik. “Happy Anniversary bubs🤍 I got your back, you got mine,” Vacanti captioned an Instagram photo of the pair on their wedding day. According to Vacanti’s bio on the NBC website, he regularly gigs with his wife and sings in a worship band with her.
Watch Vacanti’s performance of “If I Ain’t Got You” below:
‘The Voice’ Alum Inspired Vacanti to Audition
Buffalo native Cami Clune made it to the semi-finals on season 19 of “The Voice.” Clune and Vacanti were in the same band, “Direct Worship,” for years and even did a local Christian TV show together. Seeing Clune do so well on “The Voice” gave Vacanti the courage to give it a try himself.
“She (Cami) is kind of a big inspiration for me auditioning for the show,” Vacanti told The Buffalo News. “I’d never seen someone I had worked with so closely on a platform like that and that kind of just sparked something in me.”
Vacanti works as a prevention educator for the Erie County Council on Alcohol and Substance Abuse, doing anti-drug and anti-bullying presentations at schools. He is still teaching virtually part-time while competing on “The Voice.”
“I can’t wait to go back in the classrooms and be an example,” Vacanti told The Buffalo News. “‘Hey, remember Mr. Josh used to talk about how he loved to sing and wanted to have a career in music? It’s never too late to reach for your dream. So just keep pushing for it.'”
Vacanti Struggled With Health Problems & Bullying As a Kid
Vacanti’s contestant bio on the NBC website states that he suffered from severe asthma as a child and had to be hospitalized regularly. He was prescribed steroids which caused him to rapidly gain weight. Vacanti once weighed 300 pounds and was bullied for his size.
To cope with these struggles, Vacanti turned to music. He found community through his church choir and went on to study music at SUNY Buffalo State.
“I didn’t have a super strong friend group growing up and I just felt very ostracized. I was an easy target for kids. Kids can be cruel sometimes,” Vacanti told The Buffalo News. “It wasn’t until later in life I realized that the things that make me different and unique are the best parts about me and that’s a big message that I try and teach kids when I’m working in schools.”
Did Vacanti Make It to the Top 8?
Vacanti was among the contestants who secured enough votes to progress to the top 8 after the November 30 eliminations. The bottom three were Jershika Maple of Team Legend, Holly Forbes of Team Ariana, and Jeremy Rosado of Team Kelly.
Jershika was saved after the Instant Save performances. Holly and Jeremy were eliminated.