'American Idol' finale: The Season 11 winner is ...
And so after what must be acknowledged as an evening packed with show-stopping, star-studded performances as well as a marriage proposal (former contestants Ace Young and Diana DeGarmo are engaged) –- and after a record-breaking 132 million votes were officially tallied -- we have our Season 11 "American Idol" winner, America: Phillip Phillips.
The 21-year-old guitar-playing crooner from Leesburg, Ga., brought the win home on the action-packed finale of "American Idol" on Wednesday night, making him the show's fifth straight white male winner and depriving runner-up, 16-year-old power vocalist Jessica Sanchez, of her chance to break that streak.
And if any of us ever wondered if the competition or the win actually meant all that much to Phillips, who said for him it was all about the music and had pledged to stay his course with integrity and a firm grasp on who he was (and who he wasn't), we sure got our answer. After singing only a bit of his "winner's song," "Home," Phillips dissolved into tears: unable to sing, unable to play, and ultimately, unable even to stand on that stage as the confetti fell like a massive blizzard all around him.
VIDEO | Performances: Jessica Sanchez and Phillip Philips
With the music still playing, the backup singers singing, the marching band still drumming, Phillips, who'd struggled past health issues to stay in the running, took off his guitar and walked off the stage -- past the other contestants and the judges -- and straight into the arms of his waiting family, bringing home the emotions, the stakes and the implications of his victory.
He will keep on making the music that means so much to him. And now, he'll do it as the 11th winner of "American Idol."
He's gonna make this music world a … home.
-- Amy Reiter
Photo: Phillip Phillips and Jessica Sanchez with Ryan Seacrest on 'American Idol.' Credit: Michael Becker / Fox.