Candice Glover wins 12th season of 'American Idol'
Candice Glover performs on stage after she was announced the winner at the "American Idol" finale at the Nokia Theatre at L.A. Live on Thursday, May 16, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The third time's the charm for Candice Glover on "American Idol."
The booming 23-year-old R&B vocalist from St. Helena Island, S.C., won the Fox singing competition after auditioning a trio of times and making it to the finals this year. Glover looked stunned when "Idol" host Ryan Seacrest announced she bested soulful 22-year-old country singer Kree Harrison from Woodville, Texas.
Glover said backstage after winning she learned to "have fun, live in the moment and be confident."
"Because in previous years I wasn't, so that's definitely the key if you want to audition for the show or have a career," she said.
After her crowning, an emotional Glover sobbed her way through her new single "I Am Beautiful."
Glover's win marks the first time a female and a nonwhite singer has won the competition since Jordin Sparks dominated the sixth season in 2007. The previous five winners — Phillip Phillips, Scotty McCreery, Lee DeWyze, Kris Allen and David Cook — were all Caucasian guitar players, known to "Idol" fans as WGWGs, or white guys with guitars.
Winner Candice Glover performs at the "American Idol" finale at the Nokia Theatre at L.A. Live on Thursday, May 16, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)
The lack of a female champion for the past five years was mocked in a finale bit featuring the female finalists, in cahoots with Sparks, jokingly sabotaging this season's five male contestants.
"The good news is 'Idol' leftovers have been doing really well on 'The Voice,'" Sparks teased.
Besides the coronation of Glover, Thursday's finale also served as a farewell for Randy Jackson, the show's last remaining original judge who announced last week that he's leaving "Idol" to focus on his record label and other business opportunities. Jackson served as a judge on all 12 seasons of "Idol." He first appeared on the panel alongside Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul when the competition debuted in 2002, becoming famous for his easygoing "yo, dawg" rapport with contestants.
"I love everybody that walked on this show," Jackson said. He added, "Hopefully, I touched their lives a little bit. They certainly touched mine."
Grammy- and Oscar-winning former "Idol" finalist Jennifer Hudson returned for Thursday's finale to duet with Glover on Natalie Cole's "Inseparable."