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Blake Shelton’s 37th birthday was a good one. The country singer and coach on The Voice watched Tuesday night as his prodigy, Danielle Bradbery, became the youngest winner ever on NBC’s singing competition.
Marking Shelton’s third win in just four seasons, Bradbery’s rise to the top is especially sweet for the coach because he’s finally won the show with a country singer.
“I’ve been trying this since day one. I’ve made no bones about the fact that I want to win this thing with a country artist. And anybody who doesn’t like it can kiss my ass,” Shelton said in a celebratory mood backstage after the show.
Shelton’s 16-year-old contestant, who had no professional singing experience when she auditioned for the show, became a fan favorite with her likeable personality and natural talent. As the season went on, she became one of the four country singers who were dominating the competition. At one point, Shelton has three finalists remaining, while the other coaches only had one (or none, in Levine’s case) each.
“I never had found exactly the artist who could take us to the finale,” says Shelton. “For whatever reason, we’ve stumbled along the way and it’s taken until season four to come up with the right country artist.”
Shelton had two finalists in the top three. His other artists were the duet The Swon Brothers, who came in third. Usher‘s indie singer Michelle Chamuel took second place in the finale.
Shelton helped Bradbery stay loyal to her country fans throughout the competition, with the young artist singing a wide variety of songs, from Taylor Swift hits to Pam Tillis and Carrie Underwood songs.
“I wanted to make sure Nashville respected her as much as they could,” says Shelton. “Obviously she’s an incredible vocalist, but I wanted them to know that she respects country music. That’s why we kept throwing it back to artists from 10, 20 years ago.”
Bradbery got to perform with Hunter Hayes during the star-studded live finale, which also featured performances by Cher, Christina Aguilera and Bob Seger.
As for Bradbery’s future, Shelton sees no limits to where she could go.
“I see us standing here talking about her 20 years from now. I do believe that,” he tells THR. “I wouldn’t say that, with this confidence, about anyone else that’s been on this show. Danielle Bradbery is a gift to the music industry.”
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