A Gospel Project
Searching For Unicorns
Shaking The Tree
The Debut Concert
Voices Of Fire opens with an audition; a breathtaking display of singing that ends with Pharrell Williams excited for the journey ahead. It’s a scene we’ve seen a million times before in this format, from Simon Cowell’s eyes turning to dollar bills through to the judges on The Voice slamming their buzzer and spinning round, singing competitions seemingly have an endless staying power on the small screen.
With so many choices and even more gimmicks (Songland and The Masked Singer the more recent examples), Voices Of Fire has a tough mountain to climb before it’s even started. However, through the faith-inspired themes and diverse ideas around choir-singing, Voices Of Fire finds a familiar but relatively niche slice of the pie to nibble through across its 6 episodes.
Pharrell Williams is the celebrity that will draw the eyeballs to this but it’s 30-year choir veteran Bishop Ezekiel who’s the real star here. His aim is to produce the most diverse and inspirational choir seen.
In a bid to make this a reality, alongside Ezekiel and Pharrell are a talented team of judges. Musical director Larry George, vocal coach Peggy Britt and the “Prince Of Choir” Patrick Riddick all set out to audition a number of hopeful contestants.
It’s quite the selection too, and with 3000 applicants the first 3 episodes are essentially broken down into a number of auditions. Here, we get to know a variety of different vocalists and hear their traumatic and heartbreaking stories.
There’s some inspirational ones here too, most of which predictably revolving around how Faith and God have helped them overcome their demons. It’s pretty standard stuff for this genre but given the themes of diversity and the power of music, it’s easy to look past this.
You’ve got your usual light bites of soapy drama in here too, with lots of tears and tough decisions to make as the contestant numbers are slashed down to 75. The second half of the series then tackles everything from vocal harmonies, solo performances and the dreaded sore throat that causes some to worry they may not even be able to perform on the big day.
This big day comes in the form of a 40 minute finale that essentially combines all the heartbreak, hope and joy over the previous episodes together into a celebratory showcase of vocal talent.
The audience get involved too, with lots of smiling (and teary) faces up and clapping along. Given the stories we’ve heard over the course of the season, there’s definitely some pretty satisfying moments.
On a side note, there is something quite ironic with the final shot of the last episode. Pharrell Williams takes the Voices Of Fire choir out on concert but his own performance is drowned out with auto-tune. It’s a small inclusion but one that undermines the importance of vocal talent – especially given Williams has a very good voice on him.
Still, that aside Voices Of Fire is a pretty good reality series and with only 6 episodes to get through, this is very easy to binge. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel or deliver anything outside the norm, but there’s enough enjoyment here that reality TV fans will be in their element.
Verdict - 7/10