For the second season in a row, Kelly Clarkson has won The Voice with a teen girl contestant. Earlier this year, in her first season as a Voice coach, Kelly triumphed with 15-year-old pop singer Brynn Cartelli, and on Tuesday’s Season 15 finale, she was back in the winner’s circle with 16-year-old country warbler Chevel Shepherd.
This may be Kelly’s second Voice victory, but what’s notable is that it marks the first time in the series’ history that a country singer not coached by the practically unstoppable Blake Shelton has won the show. In this week’s finale, Team Blake was represented by two country contestants, Chris Kroeze and Kirk Jay, who settled for second and third place, respectively. Team J.Hud’s own teen contender, Kennedy Holmes, came in fourth. (It’s worth noting that Kennedy and Kirk’s results elicited gasps from the studio audience — Kennedy was Monday’s show-stopper, and Kirk was widely predicted to win.)
Kelly looked as shocked as Chevel, but she no doubt took great, gloating glee in beating Blake with a country artist. Surely making the moment even sweeter was that the accomplishment is something Blake’s archival, Adam Levine — who sat out the finales both this and last season but had two country artists in the Season 11 finale — has long dreamed of.
It admittedly took Chevel a while to find her cowgirl-booted footing in this competition, with her earlier performances having a spooked, deer-in-headlights quality. But her confidence grew when this young “Country Tinkerbell” dug deep into old-soul material like Loretta Lynn’s “You’re Lookin’ at Country” and Bill Mack’s “Blue,” or Americana fare by Kacey Musgraves and the Dixie Chicks, and it began to become clear what kind of artist she could be after The Voice.
Of course, we’ll have to wait and see, since the show has a laughable track record when it comes to supporting past contestants. Its last two country winners, Season 7’s Craig Wayne Boyd and Season 11’s Sundance Head, never even released albums on the show’s affiliated record label, Universal/Republic. But Kelly is bringing Brynn Cartelli on tour with her. Brynn is also managed by Kelly’s husband, Brandon Blackstock, and just ditched Universal/Republic for the label Kelly’s signed to, Atlantic Records. All this bodes well for the future of Team Kelly’s latest champ. Watch this space.
Other performance highlights from the finale included Kennedy belting “When Love Takes Over” with Kelly Rowland, theatrical tour de forces by Panic! At the Disco and Halsey that were more exciting than almost any other performances on The Voice this season, Kirk with his idols Rascal Flatts, and actual Idols Jennifer Hudson and Kelly making Tuesday seem more like an American Idol finale with their shoe-toss-worthy “O Holy Night” duet.
There was also a fabulous “bringback” soul revue featuring semifinalists Patrique Fortson, Kymberli Joye, MaKenzie Thomas, and the controversially bused DeAndre Nico. DeAndre still didn’t get the Adam apology many fans believe he is owed, but at least he got a little more screen time (and a standing ovation from all four coaches, including Adam) to make up for his previous shoddy treatment. (Snarky side note: Reagan Strange later sang in a lovely group number with Sarah Grace and Abby Cates, and her bathrobe was nowhere to be found. But if DeAndre had worn a bathrobe to Tuesday’s finale, it would have been the ultimate trolling move.)
The Voice returns for Season 16, with John Legend replacing Jennifer Hudson, on Feb. 25.
Read more from Yahoo Entertainment:
- Adam Levine throws DeAndre Nico under the bus, Reagan Strange sits out Instant Save sing-off on most awkward ‘Voice’ episode of all time
- ‘The Voice’ addresses Reagan Strange scandal; ‘Voice’ viewers still mad
- Adam Levine protests ‘The Voice’ results: ‘I don’t know how we got to this point’