Jackie Romeo performs Rihanna's "Love on the Brain" in the final...

Jackie Romeo performs Rihanna's "Love on the Brain" in the final Knockout round of "The Voice" on Monday. Credit: NBC / Casey Durkin

Massapequa’s Jackie Romeo will continue on “The Voice” after losing to Zoe Levert on the Knockouts round in Monday’s episode of the NBC singing competition, thanks to music star Reba McEntire stealing the Long Islander for Team Reba.

“When they announced Zoe as the winner, I genuinely thought there were zero steals and that I was going home,” says Romeo, 20, who had been on John Legend’s team, speaking by phone from home. “So I thanked John for being an amazing coach … I couldn't have done it without his mentorship or the amazing words [guest mentor] Keith Urban told me in rehearsal as well.”

Resigned to her fate, Romeo “went down to hug John Legend, and I'm still on the stage. If you walk out of frame, you are off the studio stage and you cannot be stolen” to another team. “So I’m giving John a hug, and as I go to leave the hug he kind of pulls me back in. And I look up at him and he's staring directly at Reba. So I look at Reba and she’s making dead eye contact with me.”

Then time slowed down for her, Romeo says. “It felt as if it were in slow motion, the slowest possible hovering over her button. And then she finally pressed it and I was crying. I've never been more shocked in my life because I thought I was going home. And she came up to me and gave me a hug and said, ‘You should have known you weren't going home. You're too good.’ I sobbed like a baby.”

Romeo had competed against Levert, also 20 years old during production, in the final Knockout round of the night. A dual graduate of Massapequa High School and Syosset’s Long Island High School for the Arts, Romeo belted the ballad “Love on the Brain,” from the 2016 Rihanna album “Anti.”

Halfway through, in a moment that landed dramatically, Romeo took the microphone from the mic stand with one hand and held the stand to her left with the other. The camera cut to the coaches in delighted shock, and then returned to Romeo as the stand clattered on the floor behind her.

“In rehearsal, all I did was set it to the side,” Romeo tells Newsday. “But every time I do a performance, it’s like I black out and go to an alternate universe. And as I sang ‘Love on the Brain,’ I threw the mic stand, I chucked it. It was definitely not planned.” She adds with understatement, “The faces of the coaches were absolutely priceless."

Levert, a New Orleans college student, then performed The Chicks’ 1999 ballad “Cowboy Take Me Away,” from the album “Fly.” County music icon McEntire, hip-hop artist Chance the Rapper and the country pop duo Dan + Shay (Daniel Smyers and Shay Mooney) each praised both singers.

Then the final choice came down to 12-time Grammy Award winner Legend.

“Jackie, I saw you really embracing the energy of the song and emotionally connecting to it,” Legend, 45, told her. “But you also knew when to finesse the notes … and [you were] very in control, the way you handled the dynamics of the song.”

Nonetheless, Levert was his pick. Romeo thanked her “absolutely incredible coach,” and then when McEntire hit the steal button, Legend, hugging Romeo, said, “I was hoping that would happen!”

“Jackie can sing country, Jackie could sing anything she wants, because she’s that strong of a singer,” McEntire told the camera. “I’m very excited we get to work with her on the playoffs.”

Romeo, who regularly releases singles on Apple Music, Spotify and other platforms, drops her next original song, “What Makes a Man,” on May 23. She performs live at Rockwood Music Hall in Manhattan on May 2.

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