As the crowd began to disperse from the dance floor, the disc jockey requested everyone’s attention. The bride, Jennifer Young, had just finished dancing with her husband, Joseph, as her uncle sang the song to their first dance in September 2016. Ric Mango, or Uncle Ricky as Ms. Young refers to him, had been a prominent performer at Long Island weddings and celebrations for decades through his music company, “Ric Mango Orchestras.”
Mr. Mango’s performance that day at Ms. Young’s wedding quickly took a backseat to a follow-up act.
The spotlight shifted, unbeknown to Ms. Young, to a younger member of the family. Her cousin Alonna Rubin’s son took the microphone and in front of about 100 guests, sang “Hallelujah.”
Carter Rubin had not yet turned 10 when he wowed the wedding guests. The talent in the young boy was evident from an early age.
“We knew there was something, we just didn’t know how big it could be,” Ms. Young said.
Four years later, they’ve gotten their glimpse at just how far Carter can go as he dazzles America on the NBC musical competition “The Voice.” On Monday night, Carter will take the stage in the latest episode in front of celebrity coaches Gwen Stefani, Kelly Clarkson, John Legend and Blake Shelton vying for a chance to win a spot in the finals and reach the brink of the grand prize of becoming “The Voice” — the final winner who earns a recording contract.
“I want to start posting like, ‘Look, he sang to me first at my wedding!” said Ms. Young, who created “Team Carter” T-shirts for the family members to wear during each episode in support of the young star.
A sophomore at Shoreham-Wading River High School, Carter has seized the moment from when he first auditioned for “The Voice” in Boston back in February prior to the pandemic. The journey has now taken him to Los Angeles, where’s competing as a member of Team Gwen.
“I’m having the time of my life,” Carter, 15, said in a phone interview last week during a brief break from rehearsals. “I’ve made so many friends and I’ve got so many touching messages from viewers. This whole experience has been really rewarding.”
Carter now finds himself among the final nine contestants. And no matter what happens next, Carter said he already feels like a winner.
“I’m just so blessed and I have the voters to thank and my supporters who have been following my journey on this show from day 1 and I could not be more thankful,” he said.
With his mom by his side, Carter spends each day now in between shows preparing for the next performance.
“Whether that’s rehearsal, or wardrobe fittings, stage rehearsals, all of that, all to get ready for Monday,” he said.
“Carter fever” has taken over locally, with lawn signs popping up in front of homes and businesses to support Team Carter. Before the Shoreham-Wading River Board of Education began its business last Tuesday, Superintendent Gerard Poole offered congratulations to Carter.
“Let me start off with, wow, Carter Rubin,” Mr. Poole said to begin the meeting. “I know we’re all very proud of him, but not just for his singing, but his personality and his high character that just shines through when he’s on the stage.”
After first auditioning in Boston, Carter earned a chance over the summer to compete during the blind audition part of the show, where the contestants sing in front of the celebrity coaches who have their backs to the performers. A coach who feels the performer is worthy of advancing presses a button to rotate their chair and see who is singing. If more than one coach pushes the button, the singer chooses whose team to join and take on as their coach. If no coach pushes the button, the contestant is eliminated.
Carter sang Lewis Capaldi’s “Before You Go” in the episode, which aired in October. A YouTube clip of the performance has now been viewed more than 2.3 million times.
Carter got to choose between Ms. Stefani and Mr. Legend.
“I cannot believe what I’m hearing and seeing right now,” said Ms. Stefani, who first grew to fame in the band No Doubt. “This is a shock.”
Mr. Legend told Carter: “You sounded polished, you sounded strong. Your voice has control, which a lot of people your age wouldn’t have and your tone is just piercing and brilliant and it just shimmers out there.”
Carter said he was “so happy and relieved” when the coaches chose to turn around.
He chose Ms. Stefani, who he said has helped him become who he wants to be as a performer.
“She’s so invested in her contestants and she really wants the best for us,” Carter said in an interview. “It really means a lot.”
During the Knockouts portion of the competition in November, Carter sang Lauren Daigle’s “You Say” while fellow Team Gwen member Chloé Hogan sang SWV’s “Weak.” Ms. Stefani had to choose the winner and ultimately selected Carter.
“He shocks me continuously because he’s just so gifted,” Ms. Stefani said on the show. “His performance was flawless.”
On the most recent episode last Monday, during the Top 17 portion of the competition, Carter sang Mariah Carey’s “Hero.” As one of the four remaining members on Team Gwen, Carter learned the next day during the second episode that he had received the most votes to automatically advance to the next week, while the remaining team members had to sing again to try to advance.
Carter credited his family’s support for helping him get this far. He joked with the coaches during his blind audition that his parents did not have any singing talent and that it had skipped a generation from his grandpa, Mr. Mango. His grandpa, father and brother all surprised Carter in a video call that aired during the blind audition episode, which gave him the opportunity to introduce them.
In an interview last week, he recalled his introduction to live performances when at age 7 he sang the national anthem during a ceremony to reopen the beaches in Long Beach following Superstorm Sandy.
He said he’s been singing at venues across Long Island ever since. He said he music and singing have been a passion for as long as he can remember.
“I was doing some theater productions at my school and I also love acting,” he said. “So I’ve always been involved with the arts and I just kind of wanted to stick with that.”
Carter said he’s grateful for all the support he’s received back home as he performs now on “The Voice.”
“It’s a small community, everyone knows everyone,” he said. “I think we definitely have each other’s backs.”
Soon enough, once the show ends and his school returns to normal post-pandemic, Carter looks forward to resuming theater productions with his classmates. Judging by his newfound national fame, those shows may just be the hottest ticket in town.