Warning: The following contains The Voice Season 11 finale spoilers.
The winner of Season 11 of NBC’s The Voice, Sundance Head, was crowned Tuesday night. In the waning moment’s of the day’s 23rd hour, show host Carson Daly said the Texan’s name, placing him among the pantheon of The Voice winners from other seasons. But there always seems to be a moment in the journey, a moment in the competition, where the artist seems to have a “break out” or “breakaway” moment, where they appear to gain some competitive distance from the other finalists. Most of these moments are seen in 20/20 hindsight, but there was one particular moment in Sundance Head’s journey where everyone knew he would win, no hindsight needed. You were there with him. Even those supporting and hoping that another of the finalists would be the winner most likely acknowledged the moment and quite possibly said to themselves that, “Well, if my choice doesn’t win, it would be cool if Sundance Head was named the winner.”
USA Today recounted the goings-on at the star-studded The Voice” finale, noting how Sundance Head, the last remaining member of Team Blake (Shelton), had persevered through Season 11 and ultimately outlasted the song stylings and talent of three other finalists: We McDonald, Josh Gallagher, and Billy Gillman. Team Adam (Levine)’s Gallagher, who made it to the finale with the help of the Instant Save during last week’s semi-finals, took fourth place and Team Alicia (Keys)’s McDonald placed third. Although he had made the voting interesting by garnering the No. 1 spot on iTunes last week, Team Adam’s second entry in the final four would fall one place short of the overall winner.
So when, exactly, did Head present himself as the winner of Season 11 of The Voice? During the first part of the finale, in that one moment when he and coach Blake Shelton were recording his original song that he wrote for his wife. But it wasn’t his heartfelt joy at being able to record and sing that song (all the contestants performed an original song for the finale) that convinced anyone watching the show that he would win, although there is little doubt that the big-voiced Texan endeared himself to many with the story of singing about his hope that his wife understood how much she meant to him. No, the moment came when Shelton told him the legendary rock band KISS had agreed to come on the show and perform with him in the results finale.
Now, it can be said that Sundance Head took off in the competition early, gathering speed to make it to the finish early on. And he did. And it can also be said that Billy Gillman had made in-roads on catching Head and perhaps making the final voting a photo finish. And it likely was. But that one moment where he broke down and sobbed in the recording studio, when Shelton told him he would perform with KISS, was the clincher, and everyone watching The Voice Monday night had to have felt it.
At the beginning of Season 11, when Head first appeared for the Blind Auditions on The Voice, the audience learned, as part of the 37-year-old’s backstory, that he was the son of Roy Head, the man who co-wrote (with Gene Kurtz) and made “Treat Her Right” a hit in 1965. It was also learned that Sundance Head also had an older brother that had passed away at an early age.
During the singing competition segment of the finale, while Head was in the booth during the video clip of Head recording “Darlin’ Don’t Go,” Blake Shelton told him the news. He said, “Hey, by the way, I’ve got some inspiration for you. KISS just confirmed to perform with you on the finale. How ’bout that?”
Head just shook his head and smiled as his coach relayed the confirmation. Then the country singer disappeared behind the recording microphone, bent down, overcome with emotion. As he wiped away tears and stood up straight again, Shelton offered congratulations.
“Aww, man,” he said, “the month before my brother died, he took me to that [KISS] concert in Houston, and I sat on his shoulders the whole time.”
As he wiped away more tears, Blake Shelton shared a little of his own pain at losing a brother, which occurred when Shelton was only 14-years-old. (The song he wrote about his brother, “Over You,” was sung by his then wife, Miranda Lambert, and won numerous country awards, including the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music awards for Song of the Year in 2012 and 2013, respectively.)
“You know what, man? I’ve been there, too. I lost my brother, and it’s amazing how many times they’re all around you. And I think it’s pretty cool that all this music stuff happened for you at this moment.”
Head thanked Shelton for being a “great coach” and getting through to the finale of The Voice.
And that was the moment Sundance Head became the winner of Season 11 of The Voice.
Oh, sure, it would be over 24 hours later before Carson Daly would say his name and make it official. And the live singing portion of the competition’s finale was only a little over a half-hour (of two hours) complete when the singer’s video clip was broadcast. Still, anyone watching knew that it was at that moment that Sundance Head had won. Everything afterward was merely a formality, because it was all over but for the voting.
And he was not denied. Head was all smiles when he performed with KISS on Tuesday night’s finale, the big guy looking like a little boy among his rock heroes as they, in full KISS regalia and platform shoes, towered over him. The set included “Rock And Roll All Night” with KISS lead singer Paul Stanley doing the honors of traditionally ax-slamming and breaking his guitar to complete the performance.
Sundance Head, as the winner of The Voice, won $100,000 and a recording contract with Universal Music Group. The Voice will return for Season 12 in the Spring of 2017 with Alicia Keys, Adam Levine, and Blake Shelton returning from Season 11. While coach Miley Cyrus takes a break, former coach Gwen Stefani returns for her third season as coach.
[Featured Image by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP Images]