We could tell from the start — all of us, right? When 19-year-old Cam Anthony covered Sam Smith’s “Lay Me Down” in the Season 20 premiere of The Voice, we knew that he would win — or at least very well could. TVLine put him at the top of its Most Likely to Succeed countdown. Blake Shelton promised that if Cam joined his team, the coach wouldn’t recruit anyone else in his lane. (And by God, he kept that promise, too.)
And it turned out, we were all right. At the end of Monday’s finale (recapped in full here), Cam emerged victorious over Team Kelly Clarkson’s country boy Kenzie Wheeler and three other contestants to give Blake his eighth win. Here, the singer breaks down his experience on the show for TVLine, sizes up his stiffest competition and ponders the possibilities of what’s next.
TVLINE | Congratulations on a well-earned victory! What did you do to celebrate?
Actually, I just came back [to my hotel room]. I got a little emotional speaking to my family because they aren’t here with me on the West Coast. So I was just trying to let it all sink in — and I’m still doing that! It’s a lot.
TVLINE | I can imagine. Blake said more than once during the competition that he thought you could be the first superstar ever launched by the show. Do you feel any pressure to live up to the hype?
I wouldn’t say I’m feeling pressure. It’s definitely an honor to even be looked at like that by Blake. Just being able to work with him has been outrageous and confidence-building, to have his faith in my vision and my idea of what I wanted to be as an artist has just meant the world. If anything, I’m just appreciative that he thinks that highly of me. I’m excited to take on the challenge of coming through and showing up the best way I can.
TVLINE | Were there moments when you thought, “WTH have I done, picking this cowboy to be my coach?”
No! You know, even from the point that I was standing on that stage during my Blind Audition, it seemed like it all made sense. It was too perfect. It was all too divine for me to want to change it. I would not have had the opportunity to do the things I did with Blake if I had been on Team John [Legend]. So this was the perfect opportunity.
TVLINE | You had a lot of professional experience before The Voice — you were on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, you performed for the Obamas… What kind of edge do you think that gave you over the competition?
I don’t know if it gave me an edge, but it definitely did prepare me for this opportunity. I have my moments where I feel the same feelings as you do when you’re nervous, of course. But I also feel as if fear and excitement are sort of within the same vibration. It’s all about the perspective that you have. So my fellow contestants and I, we made sure to remind each other, “Be excited about the moment. This is about us exploring our creativity and taking the next step on the journey.”
TVLINE | Country boys have a habit of winning The Voice. Was there ever a time when you thought, “Aw, crap, there’s no way I can beat Kenzie”?
You know, there was never a point in my mind where I was focused on winning or beating anyone. I think we’ve all said that we didn’t see this as a competition, it was like a training ground, a campus where we were able to explore and kind of live in that creative environment. It was very fulfilling and helped me find a new love for music that is so unfathomable that it’s almost hard to describe.
TVLINE | You were signed to Dr. Dre for a good while. Did you hear from him during the course of the show? Like, was he all, “Man, I don’t know how I let you go”?
Working with him was phenomenal. He helped me perfect my ear and work on being very intentional with my work. That experience in itself was very important in making me be successful on the stage. Initially, when I did start the competition, he was like, “Go kick ass,” basically, and “Go do your thing!”
TVLINE | So you did! I have to ask about the very last song you did on the show, “She Drives Me Crazy.” First, thanks for making me feel old by saying it was your grandma’s favorite song. Second, how hard was it to stay in falsetto for so much of the song?
You know, that was definitely a challenge. The original singer [in the Fine Young Cannibals] isn’t necessarily in a falsetto. It’s like this pinched, forced falsetto that I guess you wouldn’t consider a falsetto. So it was interesting trying to find my way in there. I ultimately ended up just flipping from falsetto to my mid-voice every once in a while. It was a fun challenge to take on, though, and being up there with Blake was definitely invigorating.
TVLINE | I was disappointed that the Final Five didn’t do original songs this season, because I’d have been really curious to hear yours. What would you have liked it to sound like? Or did you already have one in mind?
I did. I’ve been able to create some very passionate things that mean a lot to me, and I’ve been really focused on storytelling. So one of the first things I wanted to do was [a song explaining] where I’ve been and the lane I’m trying to create and where I’m trying to go. It would be that kind of a welcome to the journey and “Come on and join me.”