When diva Tessanne Chin won "The Voice" Season 5 on Tuesday, her reaction was true reality TV: It doesn't get more real than falling to one's knees and sobbing for one's "mama!" For Tessanne, who'd been struggling to sustain a singing career in her native Jamaica for years, this victory was the U.S. breakthrough she'd been waiting for all her life, and she couldn't help but break down.
Later, backstage as she cradled her fist-shaped "Voice" trophy, a more composed Tessanne told Yahoo's Reality Rocks of her pre-"Voice" career: "I had definitely hit a wall, you know? I felt like I was just on a treadmill running and running and working, but not getting anywhere — a hamster wheel. And it just became a point where it was exhausting and I wasn't doing music, I wasn't being the artist I dreamed of being. I was just doing songs and music to get by so I could make a living at it…so I was at a point where I really knew I had to reevaluate. Was I going to do this, or not at all? But I made up my mind that no matter what happened, I'm always going be singing."
It was actually another Jamaican artist, Tessanne's onetime collaborator Shaggy, who helped make this dream possible. "He was the one that actually suggested me going on 'The Voice,' and I was like, 'I don't know about that.' And he was like, 'Tess, you should.' So thank you, Shaggy!" she laughed.
Another dream that came true for Tessanne this week: dueting with her idol, Celine Dion. "She is a woman I've looked up to all my life, all my career," Tessanne gushed. "Like, when you talk about me having a favorite singer, it's Celine. She is not only one of the most amazing singers, but she is just an amazing person."
So, was Tessanne nervous to sing with Celine? "Of course! She's Celine Dion! But she was so gracious — so, so gracious — and she was like, 'Listen, we are just going to do whatever you want to do,' and she just so sweet, and that made my respect and love for her just go up even more."
As for Tessanne's post-"Voice" album, which will be out March 25, she said: "I want to make an album with just great beats and big vocals and just amazing lyrics. I think anything I do will have an island feel, but I don't want it to be just that; I don't want to be put in a box. And that's another reason I came on 'The Voice,' because I found it very important to kind of reinvent myself, as coming from just being a reggae singer to having an international career."
Check out Tessanne's interview above, and watch backstage chats with Season 5 runner-up Jacquie Lee and third-place finalist Will Champlin in the videos below!