Tamara chose to cover Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground,” explaining, “The world needs this song right now. I don’t know if I’ve ever known of a darker time in history in my 30 years.” Usher, who performed the up-with-people soul singalong with Stevie Wonder and fellow former coach Shakira at Barack Obama’s first presidential inauguration, remarked, “That was really smart of her to choose this moment,” referring to a specific line in the song that Tamara emphasized: “Teachers, keep on teachin’."
During rehearsal, Tamara revealed that her mother is a special education teacher and phones her every day in tears due to the stress of working during the pandemic. So, when Tamara belted that line and shouted out, “This one is for y’all at home! ... We need you right now!” — while pointing to the studio’s Zoom-squared virtual audience — it was powerful and poignant. She instantly lifted the energy in the room, even though the room was mostly empty. “I really heard the mission in your voice,” said a clearly moved John. And, in the end, that was enough to secure her a spot in the Voice playoffs.