'Rising Star' Recap: Three Contestants Advance After Duels, West Coast Viewers Save One More

PHOTO: Internationally acclaimed singer, songwriter Josh Groban, country music superstar Brad Paisley, pop music sensation Kesha and hip hop artist and actor Ludacris have signed on to ABCs "Rising Star," which premieres June 22, 2014.

ABC's interactive singing competition, "Rising Star," continued its live head-to-head singing duels on Sunday night with four contestants advancing and two other acts being sent home after the East Coast vote.

Two contestants were chosen to go head-to-head; a coin toss determined which one would sing first with the wall up. The winner of the coin toss got to decide the order of performance. Viewers who downloaded the Rising Star app were asked to vote “yes” or “no,” just as they did in the audition round.

The next contestant then sang with the wall down and had to beat the mark set by the first contestant in order to raise it.

'Rising Star 'Recap: Contestants Advance, West Coast Viewers Save One Other

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The one-hour show aired live on the East Coast, but viewers on the other side of the country had the chance to “save” the performer with the highest combined votes who didn't win their match-up.

Host Josh Groban and the "Rising Star" "experts" -- Kesha, Ludacris and Brad Paisley -- presided over the duels. The "experts" were allowed to vote. So were West Coast viewers, even though they watched the show on delay.

The experts also mentored each contestant before their performances. All of the advancing contestants will compete in the quarterfinals.

The ultimate winner receives a contract with Capitol Records.

Here are the highlights from Sunday night:

Macy Kate vs. Gabrielle Nicole: Gabrielle, who had the experts thinking she could go all the way after her audition, led off. When the experts asked her what her strategy was, she told them the key to winning her duel would be showcasing her range, which she did with her version of Ike & Tina Turner’s “River Deep Mountain High.” She earned a disappointing 49 percent of the vote, which surprised all three experts. Ludacris voted “yes,” noting Nicole had an “extremely powerful” voice and “made it look easy.” He urged the West Coast to save her, as did Kesha, who called the singer “a force to be reckoned with.” She also voted “yes.” Paisley wondered where Gabrielle got all her experience at the tender age of 20 and why the score wasn’t higher. Gabrielle was eliminated.

Macy had the highest-scoring performance the night she auditioned, and she pulled off another big victory this time, raising the wall with 80 percent of the vote with her version of “Demons,” by Imagine Dragons. Kesha told Macy she should be “proud of herself.” Brad thought Kate started out slow, which might’ve hurt her, causing him to vote “no.” Kesha voted "yes," noting it would be a “tragedy” to lose either one of the singers. Ludacris also voted "yes." Macy moves on to the quarterfinals.

April Lockhart vs. Sonnet Simmons: Simmons won over the experts with her haunting voice in the auditions, but they felt she needed to really “connect” with the audience this time. She won the toss, electing to go first. She chose Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good” as her song and collected 73 percent of the vote. Brad called the song choice “gutsy” and commented that he wanted to hear her in a James Bond movie. Kesha was “proud” of Simmons, noting her confidence level was “exponentially higher” and the singer really brought it. All three experts voted “yes,” but Simmons was eliminated. However, she was saved by the West Coast.

Indie rocker Lockhart chose Neon Trees’ “Animal.” Ludacris urged her to “let loose” at the end and “keep control of those notes.” Kesha also urged her to “focus on the notes.” April listened and raised the wall at the last second, earning 76 percent of the vote and edging past Simmons by just 3 percent. Ludacris voted “yes,” joking that it was the first time he’s done that so many times in one show. He added that she “100 percent took it to the next level.” Paisley called both the singer and her voice “likeable” and voted "yes." Kesha also voted “yes.” Lockhart advanced to the quarterfinals.

Adam Jaymes vs. Austin French: French set a high bar in the audition round, but Paisley warned him that he had to “distinguish himself” and emphasize his “soulful” side. The other experts agreed. Kesha added that Austin had to “tap into who he is and show that to America.” He went first with his version of Gavin DeGraw’s “I Don’t Want to Be” and collected 81 percent of the vote. Kesha thought French “left it on stage.” Ludacris felt the singer had an “optimistic presence,” explaining that French, possibly due to his background singing in church, made everybody feel “happy.” He also thought Austin improved his stage presence. French advanced to the quarterfinals.

Jaymes, who was a hit with the ladies during his audition, sang Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’.” The experts predicted a tough competition, but Adam couldn’t raise the wall, earning 53 percent of the vote. Ludacris voted "no" and said he could see why America voted “no,” because Adam didn’t give it his all. Brad disagreed though, voting “yes” and noted that Adam went up against a tough singer. Kesha said from a ladies’ perspective he looked good, but lacked the momentum. She voted “yes” anyway. Jaymes was eliminated.

To recap, Macy Kate, April Lockhart and Austin French advanced to the quarterfinals.

Sonnet Simmons was saved by the West Coast vote and moved on to the quarterfinals.

Gabrielle Nicole and Adam Jaymes were sent home.

"Rising Star" continues next Sunday on ABC.

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