"He turned around in, like, the first two notes of my song," James said. "And I was just blown away.... I was so surprised and so thrilled."
James becomes not only the second Utahn and the second Provoan to join Usher's team, but he and Madilyn Paige — who was selected in an episode that aired last week — both attended Timpview High, where they both had the same choir teacher.
"It surprised me. I didn't know Madilyn before 'The Voice,' and she lives literally, like, five minutes away from my house," James said. "So it took a lot of us by surprise."
And he sees it as a pretty big statement about his hometown.
"There's just a lot of talent from Provo," James said. "It's starting to change. Utah and Provo in general is starting to change into kind of a little music town. It's getting a reputation for promoting artists at places like [the live music venue] Velour and schools like Timpview."
It is not, however, altogether unprecedented. A year ago, a pair of former BYU students — Ryan Innes and Amy Whitcomb — were chosen for Adam Levine and Usher's teams, respectively.
As for James and Paige, they're quickly becoming friends — even though, under the format of the show, they could end up competing directly against each other in a future episode.
"I'm not feeling competitive toward her at all. I'm just so happy that we can, like, both of us represent Provo," James said. "Because no matter how it turns out, Provo wins. I really am stoked that we get to be on the show together. And that we're both on Team Usher — what are the odds?"
Usher called James "a diamond in the rough," which thrilled the Utahn.
"I was, like, wow — that's a huge compliment coming from Usher," James said. "They had to listen to a lot of people in the blind auditions, and Usher is pretty selective about who he turns around for. So the fact that he chose me to be one of his diamonds in the rough ... just makes me want to go and shine."
"The Voice" airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 7 p.m. on NBC/Ch. 5. The next appearances of Utahns Tanner James and Madilyn Paige's have not yet been scheduled.