Published 11:23 p.m. ET Dec. 18, 2018 | Updated 2:28 a.m. ET Dec. 19, 2018
The Season 15 champion, nicknamed “My country Tinkerbell” by her coach, Kelly Clarkson, is none other than New Mexico native Chevel Shepherd, 16.
And the winner is … Chevel Shepherd.
“The Voice” crowned its Season 15 champion Tuesday, and coach Kelly Clarkson repeated her winning ways with the 16-year-old from New Mexico she calls, “My country Tinkerbell.”
Chris Kroeze, 27, from Barron, Wisconsin, and a fan-favorite throughout the season with huge overnight downloads, came in second place. Country singer Kirk Jay of Alabama came in third. Kennedy Holmes, the powerhouse R&B vocalist from St. Louis, in fourth place. Holmes, who turned 14 just over a week ago, is the youngest finalist ever on the show.
Earlier in the show, Clarkson vowed, “I’m going to be a sister for life. I’m going to try to make her dreams come true.” With this win, her task likely will be easier, and Shepherd probably can count on her word. Clarkson is touring in 2019 with her Season 14 champ, Brynn Cartelli.
The bulk of the two-hour show was filled with post-competition performances, where each finalist was paired with a special guest. Holmes and Kelly Rowland opened the festivities with “When Love Takes Over.”
Jay followed with a full-circle Rascal Flatts performance of “Back to Life.” Jay performed the group’s “Bless the Broken Road” in his blind audition, earning chair-turns from all four coaches. And then it was Kroeze’s turn to take the stage, performing “Long Train Runnin” with the Doobie Brothers. And Shepherd joined Dan + Shay to perform the duo’s current hit, “Speechless.”
Toward the end of the buildup, the show even slipped in a Target ad disguised as a performance of all four finalists singing “Round and Round.”
Some eliminated contestants got another chance in the spotlight. MaKenzie Thomas, Kymberli Joye, Patrique Fortson and DeAndre Nico rocked Kirk Franklin’s “Declaration (This is It).” Abby Cates, Reagan Strange and Sarah Grace gave viewers a “Million Reasons” to rethink their votes.
Throughout the show, there were guest performances from Marshmello and Bastille, Panic! At the Disco, John Legend and Esperanza Spalding, Dierks Bentley, Halsey, coaches Clarkson and Hudson, and Cartelli, who performed her new single, “Last Night’s Mascara.”
The winners were tallied throughout the season with fan voting through the show’s mobile app, on Twitter, through iTunes downloads and Apple Music streaming.
The season wasn’t free of controversy. The addition of the Comeback Stage added new contestant Lynnea Moorer after half the blind audition winners had been eliminated. Fans complained of the fairness of sliding in someone who hadn’t made it through the initial round.
A few weeks later, coach Adam Levine urged voters to choose 14-year-old Strange over fellow teammate Nico during the Instant Save, even though Strange was too ill to perform. Nico, and fans, felt Levine “sold him out.”
Legend will join the coaching panel next season, replacing Hudson. Here’s hoping he has some shoes ready for throwing.