Vancouver musical duo finds 'Voice'

Pair selected for mentoring by Christina Aguilera on prime-time show

By Stevie Mathieu, Columbian assistant metro editor

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As Vancouver's Natasha Neuschwander and Shawn Lewis sang before a studio audience, pop veteran Christina Aguilera pressed down on the big red button in front of her and turned her chair back toward the stage, signalling that she would mentor the duo on NBC's television show "The Voice."

It was all captured in an episode that aired Monday evening. Lewis and Neuschwander, who have been married for more than eight years and perform together under the name Beat Frequency, are used to singing for modest crowds in the Vancouver area. More than 12 million viewers watched "The Voice" on Monday.

Those viewers saw Lewis and Neuschwander belt out "E.T." by pop star Katy Perry. Neuschwander began the song by delicately crooning a solo part. Lewis chimed in a bit later, harmonizing with his wife. Aguilera selected them after hearing less than 20 seconds of their performance.

"It's a really tough song to try and do live, so as soon as I heard you do that stutter thing and it was perfect, I was like, 'I've gotta see what's going on,'" Aguilera told Neuschwander. "I'm happy to have you on my team."

The singing competition is in its blind audition stage, in which four celebrity judges begin listening to each act with their backs to the stage. They turn around if they want to coach whichever Hollywood hopeful is performing.

The celebrity coaches praised Lewis and Neuschwander as the best duo they've heard on the show. Each coach has a chance to draft singers from the blind auditions, and competitors are slowly eliminated in later episodes based on decisions made by the coaches and by viewers voting from home.

This isn't the first time Neuschwander or Lewis have tried to break into the TV audition scene. Neuschwander unsuccessfully auditioned for "American Idol," the couple survived a few producer's rounds of cuts for America's Got Talent, and they made it into "The X Factor's" "boot camp," Lewis said.

"We're used to people rejecting us as artists," Neuschwander said. But on "The Voice," she added, "I almost fell over on the stage because I was so blown away from support."

"It was nerve-racking," Lewis added. "Twenty years of performing, and nothing felt like that."

Lewis described Beat Frequency's sound as "aggressive pop" dance music with "electronic grooves." Neuschwander brings the pop influences to the group while Lewis brings the rock influences.

The couple has released one album called "Love is All I Need," which is available on iTunes. They are working on a second album.

Neuschwander, 29, began singing while she was a student Battle Ground High School, where she also a cheerleader. After that, she performed in bars around the area with Lewis.

Lewis, 35, was involved in a Christian alternative rock band called Hyper Static Union after graduating from Camas High School, and he later worked producing other acts. Lewis now leads worship services four times a week at Living Hope Church in Vancouver.

Lewis and Neuschwander have performed more than 100 times at the Top Shelf bar in downtown Vancouver. They also sang to audiences at Big Al's and the former Red Lion Hotel Jantzen Beach, Lewis said. They plan to sing the national anthem at an upcoming Portland Winterhawks hockey game.

The couple said their appearance on "The Voice" has already helped them gain more fans, particularly on their Twitter and Facebook pages.

"It takes a long time to develop a brand and a style of music," Lewis said. "People aren't used to this whole married duo thing. Since Sonny & Cher, what else has there been, really?"

The couple couldn't reveal how far they make it on "The Voice," but they did say they are proud of their performance during the blind audition.

"We're both excited being on Team Christina," Neuschwander said. "I had a feeling we were going to vibe really well together."

The two will appear on future episodes, but information about exactly when that might be was not immediately available on Tuesday. "The Voice" airs at 8 p.m. Monday and Tuesday nights on NBC. The other celebrity coaches on the show are Blake Shelton, Adam Levine and Cee Lo Green.

Columbian staff writer Susan Parrish contributed to this story.