This year certainly belonged to teenagers — at least when it came to NBC’s “The Voice.”
The singing competition show, which airs two seasons every year, crowned teen singers its champion both times in 2018. Brynn Cartelli, 15, won the competition in May, while Chevel Shepherd, 16, won the 15th season when it wrapped on Dec. 18. Both singers were also part of coach Kelly Clarkson’s team, proving she knows how to win any reality singing series.
Shepherd comes from Farmington, New Mexico, where she is still in high school. She wowed the judges with her performance of The Band Perry’s “If I Die Young,” which turned three judges’ chairs. The young country singer went on to do classic songs by George Strait, The Judds, Loretta Lynn and Tanya Tucker, among other artists.
When she was crowned champion of season 15, Shepherd’s coronation song, “Broken Hearts,” was co-written by Shane McAnally, a Nashville titan who has written songs for Clarkson, Kenny Chesney, Miranda Lambert and other A-listers. The song has already topped Billboard’s U.S. Country Digital Songs chart.
Despite being so young, Shepherd is already an experienced singer. She started performing for audiences in her hometown at the age of 8. She could be found performing at weddings and parties around Farmington, according to the Albuquerque Journal.
Before that, she told the Farmington Daily Times she started singing at the age of 2 and credits her mother and sister with helping her find her passion for it. She told the newspaper her mother would push her around Walmart in a cart as she belted out songs, much to the delight of other shoppers.
When she’s not singing, one of her favorite hobbies is working on cars with her dad, which she showed off in an Instagram post this year, a couple months before her journey on “The Voice” got started.
Shepherd is New Mexico through and through, as she was born and raised in the state. She was born in La Plata, which is less than 20 miles from her hometown of Farmington.
She attends a public high school, where she’s a junior, and she told the Albuquerque Journal that, despite winning the show and becoming famous, she plans to keep going to the same school. While the show was being filmed, Shepherd had to spend part of each day doing school work.
Her hometown had her back all the way. According to the Farmington Daily Times, about 1,200 people showed up at Farmington High School to watch her final performances the night before she was crowned. Before winning the show, Shepherd told the newspaper she planned to move to Nashville to pursue a career in music.
She’s already well on her way, as the winner of “The Voice” gets $100,000 and a recording contract.