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'The Voice' contestant Tom Nitti reveals 'gut-wrenching' reason for mid-season departure

"The Voice" contestant Tom Nitti left the show mid-season due to "personal reasons." In a new interview, Nitti opens up about his departure.
"The Voice" contestant Tom Nitti left the show mid-season due to "personal reasons." In a new interview, Nitti opens up about his departure.

Reba McEntire was one team member short when it was time for the Playoffs round on Season 24 of “The Voice.” Singer Tom Nitti was unexpectedly absent due to "personal reasons."

At the top of the Playoffs episode, McEntire said, "I have wonderfully talented people, but Tom had to leave for personal reasons, so I only have five artists tonight.”

Carson Daly, the host of “The Voice,” reiterated that Nitti’s exit was for "personal reasons" but did not elaborate.

Nitti’s fanbase was left without answers. It wasn't until Monday night when Reba added, “all of our hearts go out to Tom, he is so strong and so good.”

After breaking his silence on Instagram, Nitti disclosed the full truth in an exclusive interview with the Observer-Dispatch, part of the USA TODAY Network, on Wednesday.

“The biggest misconception is when people think I went on the show knowing that I’d leave,” he said. “It all happened so quickly, and I needed to make a fast decision. I chose my family, and I’ll tell you why.”

Who is Tom Nitti?

Tom Nitti is a 31-year-old New York State Trooper based in the Mohawk Valley region. He was a contestant on Team Reba on Season 24 of "The Voice."

Following his graduation from New Hartford Central School, Nitti joined the military and was deployed to Afghanistan as an Airborne Cavalry Scout. After taking mortar fire during combat, he suffered a serious brain injury and was awarded the Purple Heart medal for his honorable service.

Returning home, he followed in his father's footsteps and joined law enforcement to serve with the state police.

Nitti, a New York State Trooper, was a contestant on Team Reba on Season 24 of "The Voice."
Nitti, a New York State Trooper, was a contestant on Team Reba on Season 24 of "The Voice."

“Being able to sing in front of thousands of people has always been my dream," Nitti said. "Once I had kids, that changed to wanting to be known locally and serving my community.”

Nitti was supposed to appear on Season 23 of “The Voice,” but deferred to a year later. It didn’t warrant enough time to notify the state police for a leave of absence, he said.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to pursue music full time, but I can’t do that without a cushion,” Nitti said. “As a dad, I need to make sure my children will be supported.”

Tom Nitti's standout moments on 'The Voice'

McEntire was the only chair to turn for Nitti's cover of Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I'm Yours)" in the blind auditions.

He won his Battles round performance of Cody Johnson's "Til You Can't" and was saved by McEntire following his Knockouts round cover of The Temptations' "(I Know) I'm Losing You."

The singer continued to impress throughout the season, receiving words of encouragement from other coaches on the show.

“Tom, I keep getting blown away because to emote the way you did at the end, it just kept building and building,” said Gwen Stefani during the Knockouts round.

Nitti was one of six finalists on Team Reba. With his departure, Team Reba was left with Jordan Rainer, Ruby Leigh, Jacquie Roar and Noah Spencer heading into the Playoffs – plus, her Super Save singer, Ms. Monét.

Why did Tom Nitti leave 'The Voice'?

On the show, Nitti was simultaneously trying to co-parent with his ex-wife. Admittedly, things were less than civil.

Five months before Season 24 aired, Nitti filed for a divorce.

During the Knockouts round, Nitti went up against Jacquie Roar and Alison Albrecht. Roar won the face-off, but McEntire hit her save button to keep Nitti on her team. Nitti recalls talking with teammate Roar afterward. She had noticed something was wrong and asked, “Dude why aren’t you happy? You just got saved by Reba.”

“I spilled my guts,” Nitti said. “I told her about how I had just received an email from my lawyers urging me to come home because my ex-wife was going after primary custody.”

Nitti said he was informed that his ex-wife was pursuing primary custody of their children while he was competing on "The Voice."
Nitti said he was informed that his ex-wife was pursuing primary custody of their children while he was competing on "The Voice."

He described the feeling of that moment as “gut-wrenching." There had been several instances where he’d had to leave his kids before – he’d been deployed in Afghanistan, had several field rotations and attended both airborne school and warrior leader course.

“I made this choice not because I missed my kids,” Nitti said, “but because I couldn't imagine losing them.”

He described the sorrow as two-fold, noting that it wasn’t just a dream of his but it had become one for his kids, too. “I am happy with the decision I made, but should it have come to that point?” he asked. “Absolutely not.”

Tom Nitti says Reba McEntire is the 'most genuine person'

Although his episodes on "The Voice" were prerecorded, Nitti still felt unprepared to deal with the anticipated public reaction.

“I never believed that things were meant to be until this all happened,” Nitti said. “The most positive thing from my experience on the show was the camaraderie I found among other vocalists.”

Team Reba spent a lot of time together outside of the show, he said. Nitti grew especially close with Roar and Team Niall singer Huntley.

“You become humble when you’re placed in a group of people equally as talented as you are,” Nitti said. “There’s no one on the show who is better than anyone else. It's just about the quality of a performance at a given time.”

Since leaving "The Voice," his coach and teammates have continued to show their support by checking in regularly. After his departure, McEntire emailed him to make sure he was “hangin’ in there," Nitti said.

“The producers on the show treat you like gold,” Nitti said. "And Reba is the most genuine person – she is the same on TV as she is in real life.”

What's next for Tom Nitti after 'The Voice'?

Nitti's next plans are to mobilize his fanbase and continue putting new music out. He recently wrote a song about everything that happened called “Redemption Road.”

“I’m hoping one day my kids will be able to see why I did what I did instead of just thinking that I quit,” Nitti said.

Tom Nitti's family, new girlfriend and co-workers have been supporting him during his transition back home.
Tom Nitti's family, new girlfriend and co-workers have been supporting him during his transition back home.

His family, new girlfriend Ashley Bryant and co-workers have been supporting him during his transition back home.

“Social media is not really my thing, which makes it easier to silence the noise,” he said. “My girlfriend noticed last week I gained over 5,000 followers. My fans are amazing.”

This article originally appeared on Observer-Dispatch: Tom Nitti leaving 'The Voice': Team Reba singer explains departure