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TODAY   |  March 25, 2013

Usher: ‘Voice’ judges ‘made room for us’

Musician Usher talks with TODAY’s Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb about his new role as a judge on NBC’s “The Voice,” what it’s like for him and Shakira to be the new faces on the show, and how the chemistry is between all four judges.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> albums, won eight grammys, and he can dance his tushie off.

>> but now -- he is the smooth new coach to recruit the best talent on nbc's hit show "the voice" that premieres tonight. so take a look.

>> when i said earlier i thought you sang it as well as christina, i still believe that but it was completely different.

>> there's the backpedalling.

>> as far as i'm concerned, i'm running for president right now.

>> but i'm looking for the first lady.

>> that was pretty good.

>> because he would have never made it without her.

>> right out of the gate.

>> coming out strong.

>> you have to be on your best, you know? it's all about really selling them and having them, you know, have the confidence. and obviously the show really does focus on the voice, literally.

>> which is when it comes down to it, if you want a long-term career you can't fake it just in the recording studio .

>> it's about the human. i've come to recognize that. working with blake and working with adam, they're obviously a lot more comfortable. they both have won. so we have to come in there with, like, guns blazing. and shakira, she's just gorgeous.

>> she is beautiful.

>> what's it like stepping into this group? you're the new kids in the classroom. did you try and fit in or do you make your mark?

>> they play well. they have manners. ? they made room for you.

>> they made room for us. i think blake more than anything really made me comfortable. he's closest to me.

>> such a personality.

>> yeah, yeah, yeah.

>> so how did you pitch people to come on your team? because that's not an easy thing.

>> wow. you know, you try everything you possibly can. but really it's ultimately your passion.

>> yeah.

>> they want to know that, you know, they're getting a coach who's going to fight for them and work along to nurture them to be the artist that they'd like to be. i don't play the justin bieber card often. but i --

>> you have one justin bieber in your life. you don't have to play it that often.

>> when you're looking for a talent that could be like him or greater, you know, for me, because i take it serious, you know. of course winning t ing thning "the voice" is ultimately what the goal of the show is but preparing incredible entertainers is what i'm all about, artist development, because that's who i was, that's how i was trained as an artist.

>> no gimmicks. c. low had the --

>> the cat.

>> i might have a little fun with it. i can't say i won't have a parrot nap's his thing.

>> how about a playboy bunny ?

>> female.

>> yes.

>> playboy bunnies .

>> are there males?

>> i don't know if there are. maybe you know something i don't.

>> no, i know nothing.

>> what is it like with shakira, because she's the other new kid in the classroom.

>> we know those hips can't lie but she's adorable.

>> they don't lie at all. she's great. she is definitely very aggressive and convincing. when she wants something, she goes after it.

>> really. good.

>> after the first day i realized you know what, this is like -- it's a battle. like, you know, it's friendly, a friendly environment.

>> healthy competition.

>> yeah.

>> carson came in the makeup room today and he thought this season and this first show may be one among the best that has ever been done on "the voice."

>> it's the truth.

>> really?

>> it's the truth. we actually went through an incredible, you know, time. we now finished our line auditi audition, and you guys are going to see that tonight. but this is -- man, it's not often that you have chemistry that instantly just works like that.

>> yeah.

>> and i think, you know, they really put an incredible group together.

>> what's happening here? hold up to the camera? what are those?

>> you'll see these tonight on camera.

>> what are they?

>> they're big.

>> are they birds?

>> no. this is a horse. and this is a --

>> toucan?

>> no.

>> a turtle?

>> toucan sam . no. this is a phoenix.

>> of course it is.

>> how we going to get justin bieber to pull his pants up? that's all i want to know. you can catch the season premiere of "the voice" tonight and tomorrow at 8:00, 7:00 central.

>> looking forward to that.

>> here on nbc.