English busker Michael Rice was destined for big things, but he cut a shy figure as a 22-year-old contestant on the BBC’s All Together Now. He was giggly in the pre-show interview, but when it came time to sing, he was confident and assured as he laid out a soulful version of Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary”. The judges were already stoked with his opening verse, but then he kicked things right into gear with a high voltage second verse.
Rice got the majority of the 100 judges on their feet within the first few lines of the rocking verse. The singer, who hails from Hartlepool, ran around onstage like a madman and put out a husky rock voice that did plenty of justice to Tina Turner’s famous showstopper. Check out the audition below, which at 11.3 million views, is one of the most popular musical performances on the BBC YouTube channel.
On All Together Now, the show’s huge cast of 100 judges vote by either standing up for a yes vote or staying seated for a no vote. Prior to hitting the stage, Rice contemplated whether any of the judges at all would stand up, but they really came through for the young singer, as by the end of the song he’d gotten all 100 judges up on their feet, dancing and cheering.
After a big celebration, Rice got a little emotional and then all the judges spontaneously sang the chorus back to him acappella, which was a real heartwarming moment. The host Rob Beckett then interviewed judge Tina T, who funnily enough, is a Tina Turner tribute singer. Unsurprisingly she was a big fan and screamed “I am one proud Mary! You’ve got 100 of these amazing guys up, respect!” In the series final, Rice sang Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love”, as you can see in the video below.
Judge Georg Tormann, who is a vocal coach at the Brit School, compared Rice to some of the premier talents in UK music, saying “you absolutely lit me up. That was incredible. In the Brit School, over the last 17 years we’ve had artists come out of there like Adele, Leona Lewis, Jessie J, Ella Eyre. You are outstanding!”
Head judge Geri Halliwell, of Spice Girls fame, was also very impressed. She said “You picked a brilliant song, brilliant performance, and then you had so much charisma. You ticked all the boxes. You got 100 people on their feet – Well done.”
With such a hit audition, it will come as no surprise that Rice eventually won the entire competition. In the final he first sang “Crazy in Love” and then Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”, getting 95 and 94 judges on their feet respectively for each performance.
Rice would then turn this success into a career in the music industry, becoming the UK’s entry to the Eurovision Song Contest in 2019, after winning out against five other finalists. He also signed to Universal Music Group and scored a top 10 hit in Sweden with his single “Bigger than Us”, which also hit the top 30 in the UK Downloads chart. If you would like to see more from Michael Rice, you can subscribe to his YouTube channel or follow him on Instagram.