Talk about a fairy tale come true: Danielle Bradbery's story sounds so-over-the-top on paper that it's almost cliche. A shy teenage girl with no prior vocal lessons and no stage experience finds herself auditioning for a wildly popular reality talent show, due to her mother signing her up behind her back. Said inexperienced girl goes on to wow the nation, win the whole shebang, and become the youngest-ever champion on NBC's "The Voice."
"It kind of blows my mind too," admits Team Blake's latest pride and joy, with a smile. She explains that she really, honestly never did think she was going to win in the first place. More cliches? Possibly, but in Bradbery's case there's not even a whisper of insincerity in them.
Instead, the Texas teenager — who is as remarkably composed in real life as she appeared on "The Voice" — explains that, once she realized she was indeed on the show (no turning back!), she decided to take a measured approach and observe her competitors for pointers. "During the competition I always watched everyone else and kind of picking to myself who would win...everybody was just so amazing and I was just learning off of their stage presence and what they did."
Her astute plan, of course, worked admirably. Not only is the now 17-year-old (16 at the time of her win) the youngest victor in the show's history, she's also the very first bona fide country winner. That would be fine at any time with Bradbery, who says country music is her "foot-down" genre, but it's also an especially impressive feat given that her particular "Voice" season held a heavy roster of country talent overall.
"It was definitely different this season on 'The Voice,' being more country than ever," she notes. "I was starting to think that maybe they have a plan — or Blake has a plan. Who knows?" She smiles again. "I guess they wanted a country artist this season. Country is awesome!"
Speaking of country, Bradbery is definitely now poised to take Nashville by the horns, having landed a cream-of-the-crop deal with Big Machine Records (home to Taylor Swift and Tim McGraw) and on track to release a debut album soon (her first single, "Heart of Dixie," bowed in mid-July). She's also, of course, scored one of the best mentors in town: That would be Shelton, naturally. Bradbery notes that her coach has continued to keep a watchful eye on her even after the season's end.
"Blake has still been in contact with me as much as possible," she explains. "He’s always just checking up on me and asking me about how [the new album process is] going, and sometimes I’ll let him hear the songs and he’ll have his own opinion on them. So far he’s loved them, so that’s good. He’s been by my side pretty good now."
Another valuable friend is fellow Team Blakester and Season 3 winner Cassadee Pope. "She’s so sweet and she’s always asking me how I’m doing and I ask her as well," says Bradbery, who has hung out with the singer a few times since her victory. "Hopefully some day we’ll do something together...she's awesome."
Bradbery's rigorous new schedule seems as if it would be a lot for anyone, let alone someone so young, to balance. However, the singer remains unruffled, saying she takes time on the weekends to go home to her family and friends and "be a normal teenager...listen to music...barbecue...hang out." Still, the question remains: How does she keep such a solid attitude about her newfound fame?
I’ve had a lot of people ask me 'how do you stay so mature and so calm, or so humble,'" she admits, adding that she believes it has to do with her kind and open-minded approach to life in general. "I’ve been so loving to people and just open arms to everybody for a long time. I hate being rude to people."
She also points out that she's found her place where she never had any experience before — namely the stage. "I come off as innocent, but I mean — it’s crazy because when I step onstage, when I sing, it’s like my comfort zone. The stage feels like where I’m meant to be. It makes me feel so much more comfortable."
"It’s crazy to think. I don’t know how I do it."