By Amanda Bell
December 18, 2018 at 11:13 PM EST
Credit: Trae Patton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty
S15 E26

And there we have it. A winner for The Voice’s 15th season has finally been revealed.

Before we got there, of course, we were all treated to a packed slate of vocal performances from the final four, some returning favorites from the season, and a bevy of special guests, like so:

Kennedy Holmes teamed with Kelly Rowland for a lively rendition of “When Love Takes Over” before Marshmello and Bastille brought “Happier” to the stage. Then, Kirk Jay got to cross off a line from his bucket list by teaming up with Rascal Flatts for “Back to Life.” Soon after, DeAndre Nico, MaKenzie Thomas, Patrique Fortson, and Kymberli Joye brought in some soul with a group performance of “(Declaration) This Is It!” and Chris Kroeze performed “Long Train Runnin'” again — this time, with the Doobie Brothers!

After that, last season’s winner Brynn Cartelli brought her latest single “Last Night’s Mascara” to stage before Panic! at the Disco had some performative fun with “Look Ma, I Made It.” Reagan Strange, Sarah Grace, and Abby Cates also returned for a cozy rendition of “Million Reasons” before next season’s coach John Legend paired up with Esperanza Spalding to bring in the Christmas spirit with “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” Kelly Clarkson and Jennifer Hudson were also here for the holidays with their duet of “O Holy Night” before Chevel Shepherd joined forces with Dan + Shay for “Speechless.” Dierks Bentley’s “Burning Man” helped to bring in some more country flair, and then Halsey closed things out with a stripped down (in the visual sense) rendition of “Without Me.”

After that was done, though, it was time to get down to business as Carson Daly dealt out the first of the year’s final standings: pop-soul vocalist Kennedy Holmes (Team Jennifer) has come in fourth place, and Kirk Jay (Team Blake) has placed third.

That left Chris Kroeze and Chevel Shepherd standing stunned together on the stage as they waited for the commercial break to end (same, guys, same). When they finally came back, Carson revealed that of the two the winner would be….

Chevel Shepherd!

She did it! Chris Kroeze has nothing to be ashamed of by walking away as the runner-up, of course, but Chevel is certainly deserving of this.

Since the very beginning, Chevel Shepherd has boasted an impressive amount of authenticity, a smart command of those trill and yodel tones, and a very poised presence for anyone, let alone a 16-year-old. Of all the country singers on this show — yes, even including Kirk “Country ‘Til He Dies” Jay — her affection for the genre has always been the most articulated, as she skated through everything from classic heartbreak anthems from the Dixie Chicks and The Judds to barnyard-ready jams from Loretta Lynn to near-to-impossible iconic pieces like “Blue.” As the lyrics to one of her song choices so eloquently put it, “When you’re looking at country, you’re looking at me.”

Even if her preference for throwback country anthems didn’t always mirror the audiences’, she still continued to put on such delightful performances that she was impossible to ignore, and in the finale, she really drove it all home with that amazing original, “Broken Hearts.” Kelly says she likes to call her a “Country Tinkerbell,” and that should probably just be the title of her first album now that this is all over with.

With that, it’s a wrap! Thanks for listening along this season.

Season 15’s Winner: Chevel Shepherd

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The Voice

A rotating chair-full of judges search for the next great superstar singer on this NBC reality show.

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