Danielle Bradbery, Carson Daly
For viewers at home, Team Blake's victory on the Season 4 finale of The Voice felt a little like déjà vu. After all, the country superstar had already won two times before. But for Blake Shelton, Danielle Bradbery's win is extra special.
"Danielle Bradbery gave us the opportunity to actually discover a true superstar right here on this show," he told reporters Tuesdays. "We found somebody on The Voice."
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At 16, Bradbery is not only the youngest Voice winner ever, but she is also the first without any major ties to the music industry. Javier Colon was previously signed to Capitol Records and released two unsuccessful albums before winning Season 1. Season 2's Jermaine Paul sang back-up for Alicia Keys, and had been nominated for a Grammy for his work with the "Girl on Fire" singer. Before going solo and winning the Season 3 title, Cassadee Pope was the lead singer of the pop rock band Hey Monday, which released a studio album four years prior.
"I love the fact that The Voice got some criticism in the past for bringing in artists that have had record deals and have been on tour and they're professionals. They can kiss our a-- now," Shelton said. "The biggest audience she ever had was at Thanksgiving dinner before this competition. We found somebody on this show... and we saw her grow and we saw her become a star before our very eyes."
Bradbery's triumph on Tuesday was hardly a surprise after her Voice performances started climbing the iTunes charts. "I'm a realist. Danielle's been dominating this thing and it didn't make me upset to see that," said Zach Swon of the third-place finishers The Swon Brothers. "I'm super happy for her. Third place is farther than we ever anticipated." Added Colton Swon: "All we heard was duos can't make it on this show and can't even get a chair turn. So, we're just happy to be on the show right now."
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However, Bradbery said she was still shocked to hear her name called. "Any one of us could have been the winner," Bradbery said. "I had no idea. You never know at this point because The Swon Brothers and [runner-up] Michelle [Chamuel], they deserved it. They're so amazing." Shelton also said Bradbery's win wasn't a sure thing because of Team Usher's formidable finalist. "Michelle Chamuel — she was the thorn in my side all along," he said. "I'm a fan as a coach. She's the enemy. She's the opposing team. She made it hard for us."
Although this was his third victory, Shelton gave all the credit to his teen vocalist. "Thank God for Danielle Bradbery's God-given talent because she is the reason I'm standing here talking about winning. It's nothing special that I did," he said. "I said from the beginning... I would like to take a country act from the beginning to the end and win this thing, and now that's happened."
Now the question on everyone's minds is whether Bradbery will be The Voice artist to break through and achieve the mainstream success as a recording artist that has eluded past winners thus far. "We 're not in a rush to just throw her out to the wolves," host and executive producer Carson Daly said. "It's not just about getting songs on the chart. It's about developing an artist. I think she's got a good record deal now, and Nashville will take good care of her. She's got a good coach in Blake. Literally, she couldn't be in better hands professionally. She's got a great leg up."
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Since Season 1, Shelton has served as a strong advocate for many of his artists long after they leave The Voice stage. Gwen Sebastian frequently tours with Shelton and RaeLynn has been writing with Pistol Annies, the country trio fronted by Shelton's wife, Miranda Lambert. And it sounds like Bradbery will definitely be ringing up her old coach as she prepares to take the next step in her career. "He knows what he's doing. He's smart. He's definitely got your back no matter what and that's what basically counts. He cares for you," she said. "I'm ready. I'm bracing myself for whatever comes my way."