“What a Wonderful World” will always be associated with Louis Armstrong’s unique and gravelly voice, but it’s a pleasure to hear no matter who is covering it.
Despite the song’s popularity, it wasn’t a commercial success when it was first released. Written at the height of the American race riots in 1967 and meant to convey peace and goodwill, it was far more popular in the U.K. at first. But as we all know, it has since become an American standard, and Armstrong’s classic recording was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.
It has always been a popular song for artists to cover, so it was an instant hit when the U.K. edition of the singing competition The Voice chose it to highlight the vocals of contestant Ruti Olajugbagbe and her on-air mentor the legendary Welsh crooner Tom Jones.
On the season finale in 2018, Olajugbagbe and Jones took to a beautifully lit stage, complete with lanterns hanging from branches and autumn trees dropping leaves in the background.
Seated facing each other, they turned the song into a stunning duet.
As Jones began to sing, the camera panned along the beautiful decor, his voice enchanting the show’s judges and audience alike.
There’s a reason this man is a legend!
Just look at the face on Olly Murs, former X Factor winner and current judge of The Voice. He looks positively touched by the performance!
Then it was Olajugbagbe’s turn.
Just 18 at the time, her vocals sounded well beyond her years. The moment she sang her first note, the audience applauded as Jones listened with pride to his young protege.
Olajugbagbe’s vocals were a contrast to Jones’ deep tone, but she managed to add her own unique twist to the song without changing anything that makes it a classic.
And it was clear that her mentor enjoyed her performance. All smiles, Jones likely knew at that moment that he had a winner on his hands. Olajugbagbe would go on to be the 7th winner of The Voice UK later that night.
The most stunning musical moment was reserved for the two blending their vocals together in perfect harmony. It drew wild applause from the audience and truly brought out the beauty of the lyrics. As leaves fell around them, they looked every bit the dynamic duo.
While you’ll have to watch the video to get the full effect, the falling leaves were the perfect touch for a song about the beauty of a world in which time passes and things change for the better.
Now rumored to be laying down tracks for her first album, the singer has stayed out of the limelight since her big win.
Her only release so far has been a cover of the Cranberries song “Dreams,” which rocketed to number 1 on the UK iTunes Store. Her performance of that song on the same night she performed with Jones was equally spellbinding.
While the young singer – still just 19 years of age – is working hard to put out the best album possible, the public has been clamoring for updates.
Jones recently sated the public’s appetite for more news by revealing to Metro.co.uk that he’s still mentoring Olajugbagbe and listening to her demo tracks. Things weren’t as speedy as people would like because she also writes her own songs.
From what we can tell, the young singer seems to have her priorities straight, putting in all the hard work she can up front instead of simply riding out her 15 minutes of fame. A good work ethic and a caring mentor might just be the perfect recipe for success.
Her EP comes out on April 4th, 2019 and Jones wished her well on Twitter just days before:
Make sure you click below to watch their beautiful duet of “What a Wonderful World”!
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