It hardly came as a surprise: Sawyer Fredericks, the fetching folky farm boy from Fultonville, N.Y., was declared the Season 8 winner of “The Voice” in the final moments of Tuesday night’s finale.
The sweet 16-year-old with the gleaming hair, sincere smile, innocent glow and endearing habit of singing with his hand on his heart had prevailed over three other worthy finalists. And kid though he may be, he took the news like a pro.
It all happened in the last five minutes of the finale. After the parade of guests artists (Kelly Clarkson, Sheryl Crow, John Fogerty, Ed Sheeran, Maroon 5, Meghan Trainor, Luke Bryan), the returning members of the Top 20, and even the coaches themselves had performed, Carson Daly gathered the four finalists – Meghan Linsey, Sawyer Fredericks, Koryn Hawthorne and Joshua Davis – to reveal whom the voters had chosen to collect this season’s trophy.
“One of your lives is about to change forever,” Daly declared, before breaking the first bit of news. Hawthorne, who had sung with Clarkson earlier in the finale, would have to settle for fourth-place bragging rights. Pharrell Williams stood and applauded as Hawthorne, just 17, collected hugs from her fellow finalists.
Davis, who had shared the stage with Crow, had finished in third place, Daly let us know.
That left Linsey and Fredericks.
“Meghan Linsey, Sawyer Fredericks, one of you is The Voice,” Daly said. “It’s time to find out who it is.”
Both had performed well the previous night, as they had throughout the season, but Fredericks had two songs charting in the iTunes Top 5 – at Nos. 2 and 4 – while Linsey had just one, at No. 5. He clearly had the edge. And?
“The winner of ‘The Voice’ is … Sawyer Fredericks,” Daly said, just before the celebratory fireworks lit up the stage.
Soon, though, the pyrotechnics were outshone by the beaming smile of Fredericks’ proud mama. As Fredericks sang the song that had helped put him there, “Please,” an original his hero Ray Montagne had given him to sing in the finals and to release as his first single – the song currently occupying that No. 2 slot on iTunes – his parents, looking fresh from the farm, enveloped him in a hug.
As the confetti fell, heavily, Fredericks allowed himself a brief chuckle, but he kept on singing. He sang from the heart. He sang with everything he had. He sang with a generous spirit.
He sang. Because that is what this sweet-smiling, Americana-inflected, pure-voiced, preternaturally talented young man -- who had never been on a plane before entering the competition, who had satisfied his love of music by singing at farmers markets, who was never too comfortable when required to speak into a microphone -- clearly loves to do.