'American Idol' finale recap: Candice Glover wins Season 12

Candice Glover was crowned the Season 12 winner of "American Idol" on Thursday night, giving us all a lesson in hard work and persistence and proving that talent really can carry the day. She's the first female "Idol" winner since Jordin Sparks in Season 6.

"I can't even …" she said after Ryan Seacrest had named her as the winner and Kree Harrison, her bestie rival, as runner-up. "Three years."

The lush-voiced 23-year-old soul singer from St. Helena Island, S.C., who'd toiled as a travel agent, waiting for her chance to step into the spotlight and show the world what she could do, had auditioned for "Idol" twice -- in Seasons 9 and 11 -- before making it to the live rounds this season. This year, she's said, she came back with a new confidence and a clear sense of who she is.

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At times, she seemed to want the win more than anyone else in the contest, to be willing to fight for it with performances that blew the competition away and to roll with the punches when things didn't go her way. Remember the week when only one of the judges (well done, Mariah Carey) listed her in their top 3? Glover sure showed them.

Week after week, she walked onstage -- at one point with a broken toe -- and sang with a depth of emotion only Harrison on her best days could approach.

Glover's coronation song, or first single, as they're now calling it, "I Am Beautiful," seemed to say it all. Even when her talent -- and yes, her beauty, brought forth by the "Idol" team of stylists, hair and makeup artists -- went unrecognized, she kept faith in herself.

And on Thursday night, after the top 10 and the judges and all manner of visitors -- The Band Perry, Jennifer Hudson, Adam Lambert, Jesse J, Emeli Sande, Psy, Jennifer Lopez and Pitbull, Frankie Valli and Aretha Franklin on a big screen, who seemed more present than many of the aforementioned (anyone else suspect they'd spotted some lip synching going on?) -- had performed, when Glover stepped out amongst the shooting streamers and falling confetti to sing her new anthem, her voice choked with sobs, she seemed to be singing right to the higher power that had gotten her there.

It was a moment that was, yes, beautiful.


'American Idol' recap: Kree Harrison and Candice Glover vie for win

'American Idol' recap: Angie Miller goes home in tears

'American Idol' recap: Top 3 are all 'in it to win it'

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