NBC Readying The Voice of America

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Reality-TV mega-producer Mark Burnett’s latest project will be a singing competition for NBC called The Voice of America.

Based on the Dutch show The Voice of Holland, the competition will feature four celebrity mentors selecting the talent, with a unique twist: they’ll sit with their backs to the singers during auditions and judge them without looking at their outward appearances. If they like what they hear, they’ll push a button indicating they want to take that contestant on as a student. If more than one mentor selects a specific singer, the singer will get to choose who they work with.

It’s an interesting premise, given that American Idol recently added new non-singing challenges to its format to determine which contestants are the most marketable pop stars. Burnett told The Hollywood Reporter that contestants on The Voice of America will be judged on their pipes alone: “Somebody will show up with all the right moves and look like a star, but their voice is only good, not great, and they don’t get chosen,” he said. “You’re dealing only with your sense of hearing — do you believe this voice is worthy of your commitment? The coaches have skin in the game and will be a part of the careers of these young performers after the show.”

The Voice of America will premiere on NBC sometime this spring.