(Reuters) - Candice Glover, a soul singer from rural South Carolina, was named "American Idol" on Thursday and become the first female singer to win the television singing competition since 2007.
Glover, 23, defeated country singer Kree Harrison in the popular vote with her powerful voice in what judges deemed a close contest to take the title on season 12 of the popular Fox network show.
"You are officially our American idol," host Ryan Seacrest said as the crowd of 7,000 in Los Angeles cheered. "Three years, persistence, determination and a lot of talent. You deserve it."
It was third time lucky for Glover, who appeared in two earlier seasons of the show, and finally won the crown by making songs like "Somewhere" from the musical "West Side Story," and the jazz tune "You've Changed" all her own.
"Oh, my God," a shocked Glover said with tears streaming down her face after hearing Securest call her name. "Three years."
Seacrest announced Glover as the winner at the end of the two-hour finale show, which featured performances by judges Keith Urban and Mariah Carey, as well as Aretha Franklin, Jennifer Lopez, rapper Pitbull and South Korea's Psy, who sang his new single "Gentleman."
Glover, the first woman to be crowned "Idol" since Jordin Sparks six years ago, won a record deal, which could help propel her to the stardom enjoyed by other women "Idol" winners such as Grammy Award winners Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood.
(Reporting by Patricia Reaney in New York; Editing by Bill Trott)