Jesse Campbell: Xtina Didn't Keep Her Word

The Voice's soulful former contender speaks candidly about his elimination, and what comes next.

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In the history of performance reality shows like NBC's The Voice and Fox's American Idol, it isn't uncommon for the programs to go rogue, switching up the rules at the last minute in hopes of adding some nail-biting suspense to otherwise predictable episodes.

In keeping with that tradition, The Voice decided last Monday during the live quarterfinals to call for instant eliminations, which required the celebrity coaches to immediately send a contestant home, taking the choice out of the hands of the voting public. And in a shocking turn of events, Christina Aguilera chose to oust soul singer Jesse Campbell, a fan and coach favorite.

"I was in total awe," Campbell said with heavy sigh in his second interview with The Root. "I was just as surprised and quieted as the audience and the public. I didn't know why and I was in disbelief."

For fans of the show, it was clear that this wasn't a simple case of eliminating the weakest link. On the contrary, this decision seemed to go against the general consensus that Campbell was, in fact, "the dude to beat," as Adam Levine had put it in a previous episode.

"It was very unbelievable ... I was speechless," Cee Lo Green said of Aguilera's decision last Monday, according to Hollywood.com. "We definitely don't share the same strategies as coaches." 

Fans even took to Change.org with a petition to have Campbell reinstated, which garnered nearly 2,000 signatures. One signee argued, "because America would never have eliminated him tonight! If ever!"

Recognizing the enormous response, Aguilera addressed her controversial decision last Tuesday on the second night of eliminations, saying that while Campbell was talented, she wanted to work with artists who could grow. But could a comment from host Carson Daly be read to mean something slightly different? "She wants people she wants to continue to work with," he explained.

So what gives? In his first print interview since his elimination, we spoke with Campbell about his run on The Voice and his true relationship with Aguilera. He also told us how his daughter Soraya took the news and gave us a hint as to where we might see him again.

The Root: When the decision was made, it felt as if viewers shared a collective "what just happened?" moment. Tell us how you felt the moment Christina chose to send you home.

Jesse Campbell: I immediately had to pick my heart up from the bottom of my being. I thought, what did I do wrong? What could I have done better? And all of this was happening right there onstage in that moment. I told myself that I don't have time to process this right now. Everything happens for a reason, so I chose to love on the other contestants [with hugs and farewells] and keep it moving. And I wanted desperately to be with my daughter, but they were rushing me out.

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