Starbucks customers are used to hearing their names and beverages called out in stores around the world. But a barista in South Carolina has a unique way of letting someone know their order ready.
“I have a Grande Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino,” Delvin Choice sings in a voice that’s as rich and satisfying as the blended, iced coffee drink.
As the customer smiles and laughs, Choice is pleased knowing he might have made someone’s day a little brighter.
“Nine times out of 10 we’re the first faces people see in the morning,” said Choice, a Starbucks partner (employee). “Knowing we have that much influence on somebody’s day is a huge thing.”
Choice’s voice had a huge impact on judges of NBC’s “The Voice.” Season six of the vocal competition premiered this week and Choice made it through the live audition in front of America and four celebrity coaches – Adam Levine, Shakira, Usher and Blake Shelton.
Although Starbucks is a sponsor of the show, the company has no influence on the competition. In fact, last year when Choice auditioned for a spot on “The Voice” none of the musical celebrities turned their chairs indicating they wanted to coach him. He did not advance past the audition.
“I’m not going to lie to you, I was heartbroken then,” Choice said, recalling the moment he was on stage singing “Closer” - a Ne-Yo dance hit. “A couple of years ago my grandmother passed away and so did my voice teacher who was the potter who molded this voice that I have now. After I got through with the last note, I vividly saw their two faces smiling. I was at so much peace at that moment that all I could do was smile.”
Choice left the stage grateful that he was among the 40,000 people who tried out for “The Voice” and was one of the 130 singers featured on TV.
“That’s a big blessing,” he said.
Gratitude and music have always been a part of Choice’s life. He grew up in Simpsonville, South Carolina, the son of Rev. Willie Choice and Minister Hennie Choice. His parents say Delvin “came in the world singing a high soprano that rung out throughout Greenville Memorial Hospital. We knew right then that he was a very special gift from God.”
People back home recognize Choice’s gift. He has completed four years of classical voice training and has performed in many local musical productions.
His day job for the past several years has been with Starbucks where he's a barista. Choice calls Starbucks the “the best job I ever had.”
“I think Starbucks is one of the most honest companies to work for. I love, love, love Starbucks,” said Choice. “I had the opportunity to create relationships with people who didn’t know anything about me except that I made a good cup of Joe. If they would come in and they had an off day I would find different ways to make them smile.”
Occasionally, that involves singing out a beverage order, but more often Choice and others in the store sing along to music the Starbucks store plays and dance a little too.
“It makes people happy to see partners in the store enjoying what they do,” he added.
Seeing Choice do what he loves on stage makes his fans happy. Choice has a loyal following who call themselves “Team Lobster,” a nod to his unique hairstyle that’s sometimes tinted red. Fans will be following his progress this season through social media with the hashtag #teamlobster. Fellow green-apron-wearing baristas are eager to follow his journey too through the Starbucks Partners Twitter page.
The journey is a promising one so far. Choice wowed the coaches Tuesday night singing Donnie Hathaway’s “A Song for You.”
Shakira, Shelton and Levine hit their buttons to turn their chairs before he belted out the second line of his song. His mom and dad cheered backstage along with show host Carson Daly. As Choice continued singing, two judges stood up in awe of his performance and before the final two words of his performance, Usher turned his chair.
"There is no doubt in my mind you can win this whole thing," said Levine, lead vocalist of pop rock band Maroon 5.
"I'm blown away, and you gotta tell me how you fix your hair," added country star Shelton. While Columbian-born artist Shakira said, "You are the singer I've been waiting for."
Usher, who was slow to turn his chair indicating his interest in Choice, said the song he chose to perform meant a lot to him personally, and he vowed to take him to the top of the competion through hard work and honest criticism.
Whom did Choice choose? He picked Adam Levine to be his coach through the new season of the voice.
“Not everybody gets a second chance at the same thing,” said Choice. “I’m proof it’s okay not to make it on your first try. Keep working, keep believing and you can come back to a four chair turn in your life too.”
Photos Courtesy NBC's The Voice