A mere eight seconds into his blind audition for The Voice, three big red chairs turned around for Sawyer Fredericks — with the fourth following less than a minute later. So from the first verse of his unique rendition of the Soggy Bottom Boys’ “I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow,” the 16-year-old New York native became Season Eight’s frontrunner — and at no point during the show’s run did he ever lose that edge. The soulful folk singer took the top prize on the show’s May 19th finale. Here’s what we leaned after talking to him and his coach, Pharrell Williams, backstage and on The Voice red carpet.
1. He’s Ray LaMontagne’s muse.
“As far as I know, the song was written especially for me,” Fredericks says of “Please,” the original tune he performed on Part One of the finale. “I got a text from Ray and he sent me one of the songs that he just kind of played through. . . loose, and he really just sat down and recorded it and wanted me to hear it. I was the only one who was getting to hear him sing this song, and it was amazing.”
2. Just like Peter Brady, his voice is still going through teenage changes.
“Every day I’m worrying about that,” Fredericks admits. “Some days, my head voice is gone and I have to find different notes to hit. When I was younger, I was writing songs and singing a lot in my head voice. I had very much like an angel voice sound. As I got older, my voice literally dropped two steps, so I had to tune my guitar down and figure out how I was going to sing my songs. It was very difficult. My voice is still changing. I’m just seeing it’s starting to settle.”
3. Windrake Farm, his home in Fultonville, New York, may need a security gate.
“The farm is now famous. I’m pretty sure it’s not going to be an empty yard when he gets back,” says Williams.
“All the cows are going to be wearing his hat,” quips The Voice host Carson Daly.
4. He’s nowhere near Coach Pharrell in the hat department.
“I have three hats. I got my first hat when I was 11 years old at an antiques shop. I just love them,” he admits.
“You’ll be getting a few more hats tomorrow, I’m sure,” adds Daly.
5. His nerves are amplified.
“Both he and Koryn [fourth place finisher, Koryn Hawthorne] possess this ability to really dig deep when they get nervous, and they get better,” says their coach, Pharrell Williams. “There are times when he gets louder. That’s when he gets a little nervous, and it’s amazing, it’s flawless.”
6. Christina Aguilera had a perplexing response to his Voice victory.
“She said it was all my fault,” Fredericks recalls of the whisper in his ear from the pop superstar just after he won. “I don’t really know what that means!”
7. Coach Pharrell had a better reaction.
“Don’t read the comments,” the music mogul advised his winning teammate.