by Bill Keveney, USA TODAY
The 16-year-old country singer from Cypress, Texas, triumphed in the fourth-season finale of the NBC singing competition, winning the viewer vote Tuesday over the other two finalists: Michelle Chamuel, 26, and the Swon Brothers, Colton, 24, and Zach, 27. Chamuel finished second and the Swon Brothers came in third.
After her name was announced, Bradbery told host Carson Daly that she was thankful but speechless before closing the show with Sara Evans' Born to Fly. She had performed that song in Monday's competition finale.
More than an hour later, Bradbery described her moment of victory.
"Me and Michelle were holding onto each other, shaking," she said on the post-finale red carpet. "When I heard my name, I could not believe it. It's going to take a while to sink in, but I'm just embracing the moment while it's here."
Bradbery said fans "were all so supportive and hopefully I touched a lot of hearts out there to vote for me and keep supporting me. Hopefully, that worked. They've been sticking by my side forever and hopefully will continue to."
The victory by Bradbery, the second female and the youngest singer to win The Voice, represents the third triumph in four seasons for a member of coach Blake Shelton's team.
"I wanted to make sure that Nashville respected her as much as they could," country singer Shelton said after the show. "Obviously, she's an incredible vocalist, but I wanted them to know that she respects country music and that's why we kept throwing it back to artists from 10-20 years ago ... showing Nashville that she can do that stuff, she can do new stuff. She can perform with Hunter Hayes, she can sing with me. Whatever it is you throw at her she's capable of doing."
He thinks Bradbery has a big career ahead of her. Bradbery said she would like to work with Shelton in the future.
"I see us standing here talking about her 20 years from now," Shelton said. "And I wouldn't say that with this confidence about anybody else that's ever been on this show. Danielle Bradbery is a gift to the music industry and definitely a gift to The Voice."
Shelton said it has been his goal "since Day One" to have a country singer win. That genre was strong in this season's finale, represented by Bradbery and the Swon Brothers, the show's most successful duo to date. Both finalists were under the tutelage of Shelton.
"Country fans are loyal, they are amazing and they like to stick by you through everything. I love it," Bradbery said.
The two-hour finale featured a range of musical stars, including Cher, who sang Woman's World, the first single of her upcoming album, Closer to the Truth. She recorded her performance in front of The Voice studio audience just before Tuesday's live broadcast.
After the show, the legendary singer said her first performance before a TV audience in more than five years was "very exciting and it makes you feel elated but it's also kind of scary. And I'm a big chicken anyway. I like being on it. I just don't like going on it."
She said a show like The Voice can help young performers.
"I think shows like this might help you skirt a lot of the bad stuff that could be waiting for you. It's a great place to go and be seen by everybody and have that feeling that you can actually can do it," she said. "Sonny (Bono) and I used to play bowling alleys and roller skating rinks. And that was hard to keep telling ourselves, 'We were good, we were good, we were good.' "
Pitbull and Christina Aguilera opened the show with a duet and country's Florida Georgia Line and hip-hop's Nelly performed together. Bruno Mars sang his newest single, Treasure, which was taped before the recent death of his mother.
The finalists got their chance to perform with the stars, too. Bob Seger, joined by the Swon Brothers, performed his hit Night Moves. Hayes and Bradbery sang a duet of I Want Crazy and Chamuel and OneRepublic performed Counting Stars.
The Voice switched coaching gears this season, with Usher and Shakira taking over for original coaches Aguilera and CeeLo Green. The two were well received.
Aguilera and Green, who appeared in the first three seasons, will rejoin the show for its fifth cycle this fall, with Usher and Shakira trading off with them for the sixth edition. Coaches Shelton and Adam Levine have been with the show from the start.
The Voice audience is down 1% for Season 4, with an average of 12.4 million viewers, but it beat Fox's longtime juggernaut American Idol among advertiser-coveted young adults. Idol still draws more viewers, but it has experienced sharp erosion over the past two seasons.
The singing competition, which stands out for its blind auditions and spinning red chairs, is produced by Mark Burnett.
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