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Get to know NBC "The Voice" contestant Chevel Shepherd of Farmington. Wochit, Farmington Daily Times

Farmington High School junior earns Universal recording contract

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FARMINGTON — Chevel Shepherd's quest for stardom met a thrilling conclusion tonight, as the Farmington High School junior was named the winner of the 15th season of competition on NBC-TV's "The Voice."

Shepherd earned the most support among voters nationwide and claimed the grand prize of a recording contract with the Universal Music Group. When her name was called by host Carson Daly, Shepherd's mouth flew open, and she broke into a broad smile. She turned to embrace runner-up Chris Kroeze, then welcomed her celebrity coach, Kelly Clarkson, for a prolonged celebratory hug. Their huge continued as confetti fell from the ceiling and several members of Shepherd's family rushed onstage to join her.

Moments earlier, when she was asked by Daly what she wished to say to Clarkson, Shepherd replied, "I want to thank you for being a positive role model for me and being a big sister. I love you."

Shepherd's quest began over the summer when she successfully auditioned for the show. Since the season premiere in late September, Shepherd advanced through various blind audition, knockout and live performance rounds to the finals on Monday's program, which featured the four surviving contestants — Shepherd, Kennedy Holmes, Kirk Jay and Chris Kroeze.

Holmes was the first finalist eliminated tonight, followed by Jay. That left Kroeze and Shepherd alone onstage with Daly as the episode, and the season, reached its climax with the announcement of the winner.

Shepherd won the crown by turning in a series of poised performances Monday night in her last chance to impress viewers, crooning her way through "It's a Little Too Late" and "Broken Hearts" in solo fashion, then being joined onstage by Clarkson for a duet performance of "Rockin' with the Rhythm of the Rain."

Tonight's three-hour broadcast began with taped replays of many of Monday night's performances, during which Shepherd's renditions of "It's a Little Too Late" and "Broken Hearts" were featured. The season finale was a star-studded affair with appearances by the likes of Halsey, Rascal Flatts, John Legend, the Doobie Brothers and Dierks Bentley.

Chevel Shepherd's 'Broken Hearts' 

During an interview segment with the program's four coaches to kick off the show's second hour, Clarkson described Shepherd as her "sister for life" and said she would try her best to make Shepherd's dreams come true. She advised her protégé that, win or lose, the hard work of building a career was just beginning for her, adding, "Get ready for the ride."

Duet with coach Kelly Clarkson

A taped segment showcasing the relationship Shepherd and Clarkson have built over the past several weeks followed, during which Clarkson referred to Shepherd as her "country Tinkerbelle." Shepherd treated her coach to a couple of her animal impressions, including a dog and a horse, and repeated a handful of Clarkson's favorite expressions, such as "Rad" and "Aim higher." The segment concluded with Clarkson saying, "Chevel is so sweet. She is everything you would want your daughter to be."

Clad in a purple gown, Shepherd then took the stage for her final star turn. She joined Dan + Shay for a performance of the country duo's No. 1 hit single "Speechless."

The final performance with Dan + Shay

Shepherd became a source of inspiration for thousands of San Juan County residents in recent weeks as she took down the competition. Watch parties at locations throughout Farmington attracted overflow, enthusiastic crowds, and several local business owners expressed their support for her on their marquees. Additionally, the San Juan County Commission has voted to celebrate her achievement with Chevel Shepherd Week, though a date has not been announced.

Shepherd can be followed on Twitter at @officialchevel.

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