Tuesday night marked the close of Season 12 of NBC’s reality singing competition The Voice, and what a night it was — not only for champion Chris Blue, but for his coach Alicia Keys, who scored her first team win with the victory. Blue, a Tennessee native from a large family with music in its blood, was somewhat of an underdog this season; he was the final Voice hopeful selected in the blind audition rounds, taking the very last spot on Team Alicia Keys.
EW caught up with Blue on Wednesday to talk about some truly valuable in-the-moment advice from Keys, his not-so-secret passion for WWE, and how far he’s come from thinking he wasn’t talented enough to even be on The Voice in the first place.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What is the last thing you remember thinking before they called your name last night?
CHRIS BLUE: Such a great question! Last thing I remember thinking was my name. One of the things that my coach Alicia [Keys] preached to me is, if you can see it, imagine it, and feel it into the universe or into the atmosphere, then that thing, whatever you feel, imagine and see, will come into existence. So I was just thinking my name, Chris Blue, Chris Blue. And also thinking about how it all began for me, which is back in June, of last year. I went to Atlanta, Georgia to audition and stood in that 7,000- or 10,000-person line, to being the winner of The Voice, or being in the position to become winner of The Voice.
What is the first thing you remember thinking after you won?
I thought about every single person who supported me on this journey and every single person who voted for me and that has shown so much love throughout this entire process. I thought about my family, and I thought about my fiancée. I thought about the confetti falling on them. And I thought about my coach. We did it!
What was the first thing you did after the show wrapped last night?
I went to grab my champion belt! After hugging my family and all that, and celebrating with them on stage, the first thing I did was I went to grab my champion belt. I bought a WWE replica World Heavyweight Champion Belt, as a gift to myself. I did that because I’m a huge wrestling fan — I love the WWE. And I’ve always wanted to buy one, never had enough money to afford one, plus, never had the appropriate celebratory event to whip it out and not feel too young of a kid. So I thought it was appropriate, so I went to go grab my champion belt, and it’s with me right now. It’s really cool.
What is the best thing your coach Alicia Keys taught you during this experience?
She taught me that I’m a human being. Now watch this: When you’re on stage, it’s really easy to get in your head and not be present, because obviously you want to do a great job, you want people to accept you. But the best job is always the job of the person that isn’t thinking, he’s just being. One day, she pulled me, Stephanie [Rice], and Vanessa [Ferguson] aside and she said, “Listen, you guys, don’t go on stage and try to do it. Just be it. Because you’re human beings, not human doings. Don’t try to do anything, just be it.” And that’s when the magic happens, when you just let it be. That’s the best advice, man. I’ll always remember that.
I’m super grateful I got to work with Alicia Keys. It was something special. It was meant to be.
Will you stay in touch with the other contestants? Which ones?
Yeah! Quite a few of the guys. It’s funny — I just got through speaking with Josh [Hoyer] earlier today and TSoul. I stay in touch with Mark Isaiah and Hunter Plake. I pretty much stay in touch with all of them.
What about the girls?
Lauren [Duski, this season’s runner-up] I speak with — she’s just a doll. Aliyah [Moulden]’s like a little sister. Anatalia [Villaranda], I call her Rocket. She’s like another little sister. We all created bonds with each other. I’m definitely gonna keep in contact with everyone. Absolutely.
What is the single most surprising thing about actually being on The Voice that went against your expectations, watching it at home in earlier seasons?
To be honest with you, I never thought I would be on The Voice. I always said to myself, “You’re not good enough for this show, don’t try out, you’re not gonna make it, no one would ever turn a chair for you.” So I would say the most surprising thing about this show was the fact that I was on it to begin with. That’s the shocker. I never thought I had it, seriously. I used to be at home, and I’d watch the show, and I’d just be in jaw-dropped awe at the amazing talent that would grace that stage.
So how did that change, to go from thinking that you couldn’t do it to becoming the winner?
I need to seriously get a reality check and try to figure out who the heck I am! Because I was wrong, obviously. It’s humbling to be in this position. To go from not ever believing you could do it to not only doing it but conquering it and achieving it.
And also becoming the first winner for Team Alicia.
Right?! It’s been a season of firsts, it really has. It’s pretty special. I guess season 12 was meant to be for Alicia Keys and for Chris Blue.
Choose one of the following: Rehearse to perfection, or improv and jam.
[Whistles] Hmm. Rehearse to improv and jam! [Laughs.]
That’s not fair, but explain.
I am a perfectionist. And I love to be prepared and organized, but there’s nothing like being present and in the moment. So I’ve always said, when the anointing meets preparation, you get magic. And that’s what I try to do every single week — make sure that I was prepared. However, I wanted to be present. And that’s when the magic would always happen.
What was your favorite performance from the show?
My favorite would probably be between “Take Me to the King” and “Rhythm Nation,” I really enjoyed those. No, I take that back: “Take Me to the King,” “Rhythm Nation,” and “My Money’s On You” [Blue’s original single, written and performed for Monday’s lead-up to the finale]. One of those three. I can’t choose, that’s a hard one. My fiancée, you ask her, she loves “Rhythm Nation”; that was her all-time favorite. I loved all three because they all embody who I am. They summed up my entire being on the show.
What was your favorite performance by someone else on the show?
I became a really big fan of — this is going back to the battle rounds — Johnny Gates and Sammie Zonana, “I Drove All Night.” Oh my gosh, I love that battle. I was jamming to that song. I really enjoyed that song. As far as solo performances, TSoul’s “Lay Me Down” and, I would say, the second-to-last song Hunter Plake did.
What’s next? When are we going to get your album?
Listen, we won The Voice last night so that means today is a day we’re gonna start working hard. Work starts right now. So friends, the album will come out really soon. We don’t want to keep anyone waiting, and I’m eager to get to work!