Todd Tilghman, a pastor from Meridian, Mississippi, who’s a father of eight, won “The Voice” on Tuesday night, becoming one of the unlikeliest reality show winners in history.
In a genre where younger contestants tend to thrive, Tilghman, 42, burned brightest on the 18th edition of the Emmy-winning series, becoming the oldest person to ever win on the show, in a finale that aired remotely.
“‘The Voice’ could change everything for me. Right now, I only sing at church. I don’t perform or record,” Tilghman said early in the season, reports The Washington Post. “To be able to support my family strictly through music would be a dream.”
Tilghman finished first, which is right where he started: He was the first person viewers saw auditioning when “The Voice” kicked off its season back in February. He made a solid impression early by getting all four coaches to turn their chairs in an attempt to woo him to their respective teams.
Tilghman proved popular from the get-go with fans and the coaches, earning raves with his country selections and his penchant for filling everyone in on life with his family.
“I’ve literally never performed. I just sing at church,” Tilghman said when he tried out.
Tilghman also singled out his wife for her support, discussing how she encouraged him to audition.
“I am really thankful that she believed in me in a place in my life where I didn’t even realize that I had sort of stopped believing in myself,” he said.
Blake Shelton coached Tilghman. The country music star, who was already the winningest coach in “The Voice” history, now has seven titles.
“You’ve kind of been this well-kept secret down there in Meridian, Mississippi. Nobody knew this incredible superstar was lurking in a church down there,” Shelton told Tilghman before the winner was revealed.
Shelton also says Tilghman embodies the spirit of “The Voice.”
“Todd’s really what this show is all about,” he said. “He’s never sang outside of church before. He lives in a small town. He’s got eight kids. The world should know about these artists.”