Candice Glover wins American Idol
It was third time lucky for soul singer Candice Glover as she finally triumphed on American Idol.
The 23-year-old won the Fox TV singing competition after auditioning three times and making it to the finals this year. She looked stunned when Idol host Ryan Seacrest announced she had beaten soulful 22-year-old country singer Kree Harrison.
"Three times," exclaimed a weepy Candice under a wave of confetti before she sobbed her way through her new single I Am Beautiful.
Afterwards, she said: "I'm still trying to process what has happened. It feels amazing though, to have got to this point after working for so long. I always knew for some reason that it would happen if I kept on going."
Her win marks the first time a female and a non-white singer has won the competition since Jordin Sparks dominated the sixth season in 2007. The previous five winners - Phillip Phillips, Scotty McCreery, Lee DeWyze, Kris Allen and David Cook - were all young Caucasian guitar players, known to Idol fans as white guys with guitars.
The finale also served as a farewell for Randy Jackson, the show's last remaining original judge who announced last week that he is leaving Idol to focus on his record label and other business opportunities. Randy served as a judge on all 12 seasons of Idol, and first appeared on the panel alongside Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul when the competition started in 2002. "I love everybody that walked on this show," Randy said. He added: "Hopefully, I touched their lives a little bit. They certainly touched mine."
The current season was judged by Randy, Keith Urban, Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj, although it is not yet known whether any of them will be back for the next series.
Oscar-winning former Idol finalist Jennifer Hudson returned for the finale to duet with Candice on Natalie Cole's Inseparable.
Jennifer was among the guest stars who helped fill out the two-hour finale show, including Psy, Frankie Valli, Emeli Sande, Jessie J, Aretha Franklin and former Idol judge Jennifer Lopez.
The final will air on 5* tonight (May 17).