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LI's Bella DeNapoli wows judges during live top-20 performance on 'The Voice'

Bella DeNapoli performs during the live, top-20 edition

Bella DeNapoli performs during the live, top-20 edition of NBC's "The Voice" on Nov. 8, 2021. Credit: NBC / Trae Patton

In the live top-20 performances on NBC's "The Voice" Monday night, West Islip singer Bella DeNapoli belted out a rendition of "The Sweet Escape" by Gwen Stefani featuring Akon that so impressed coach Blake Shelton he vowed Stefani, his wife, would have loved it.

"It's funny," mused Shelton, one of the singing competition's four coaches alongside Kelly Clarkson, John Legend and DeNapoli's mentor, Ariana Grande, "we all went to go see Gwen's ... [most recent] show this last weekend, and Ari told me, she was, like, ‘You're not going to believe this: Bella's doing "Sweet Escape" on the show.' And I've got to tell you," he told DeNapoli, "I'm dying for Gwen to hear this, because — great job, by the way — there's taking a song and making it your own and then there's, like, she and Akon are probably going to have to add you to the copyright on that version!" he joked. "It was so good. Great job."

"That means so much!" an overwhelmed DeNapoli replied. "Thank you, thank you!"

Though some online critics felt DeNapoli's performance was uneven, Grande praised the 22-year-old contestant. "Bella, you are always phenomenal. You always sing so beautifully … so stunningly," the star said. "But the thing about you is that you have such a clear sense of artistry and such a poignant sense of self and a clear point of view. And it's so important and you're just the perfect pop star," she said. "It's incredible."

Clarkson and Legend did not comment on the live performance.

West Islip High School graduate DeNapoli performed about 15 minutes into the second half of the two-hour show, following five singers each from Clarkson's and Legend's teams and two of her four fellow acts on Grande's team. She wore a strapless fuchsia minidress with matching sleeve-sheaths.

After being chosen to Grande's team during early auditions, and then losing to teammate Katie Rae Mortimer on Oct. 11 during the head-to-head Battle Rounds, DeNapoli was given a reprieve when Grande used her "save" function to keep the Long Islander on her team. On Nov. 1, DeNapoli, singing Sia's "Chandelier," defeated Katherine Ann Mohler in the Knockout Round, gaining entrance to these live-show playoffs.

On Instagram after her performance, DeNapoli thanked Grande "for believing in my artistry and believing in my heart. i adore you and i am so blessed to have you in my corner rooting me on. grateful grateful grateful." She added to "my fellow teammates and contestants… wow is an understatement. we put on some ... show and i am forever touched by each of your beautiful souls. what a night. a dream come true. first live performance down in the books… fingers crossed more to come."

An additional wild-card singer will be chosen Tuesday night via viewer votes to bring the competition to 21 acts.

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