"The Voice SA" season 3 coaches. Picture: Twitter

"The Voice South Africa" returned to our screens for a third season on Sunday night with an exciting new look, a new host.

Season 3 sees Anele Mdoda take on the role as host, and three new coaches: Afrikaans rock rebel Francois van Coke, singer-songwriter Riana Nel and the “swagalicious” chart-topper Riky Rick, join The Queen, Afro-pop sensation LIRA, who has been with the show since the beginning.

The emotional first episode of The Voice SA Season 3 kicked off with the Blind Audition phase of the competition, in which the four coaches sit with their backs to the stage to listen to the quality of the voices. If they like what they hear, they push the buzzer to turn their red chair around. 

When the end credits rolled at the end of Sunday's episode, coach LIRA secured Ross Charles and Petro De Villiers for her team; Riana gained Lelo Ramasimong and Greunen Parker on hers; Riky Rick nabbed Joel Zuma and Keanu Harker and Francois van Coke hooked Sade Ross. This leaves coach LIRA, Riana and Riky Rick with 10 spots open on their teams, while Francois has 11.

The honour of launching the third season of The Voice South Africa went to Ross Charles, a 26-year-old musician and sound engineer from Durban, who opened up on camera about his struggles with drugs and alcohol, and how The Beatles saved him. Ably supported by the incredible The Voice SA live band, Ross opened the show with the spine-chilling opening wail of that powerful old Sam Cooke classic, “A Change is Gonna Come”, and within the first four bars of the song Francois van Coke hit his Big Red Button and turned his chair around. 

Moved by the power of that timeless ballad, LIRA, Riky Rick, and Riana also hit their buttons in quick succession, and then the fight was on! Riana told Ross that he could be a “one in a million”, but Francois van Coke was ready to fight her – physically – to get Ross on his team! “I’m a singer and a collaborator,” Francois told Ross, “and I’d really like to work with you.” But LIRA told Ross she had goosebumps the second he started that song. “You need to come to Team LIRA,” she said, and Ross agreed, allowing #TeamLIRA to draw first blood in the 2019 competition.

But the four coaches’ teams are not nearly filled up yet, so don’t miss next week’s episode of The Voice South Africa, when the Blind Auditions battle intensifies.

"The Voice South Africa" premieres on M-Net 101 every Sunday at 5.30pm and is repeated on VUZU, Channel 116, on Mondays at 20:00. It also be available on DStv CatchUp.

See more auditions below.