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'I've already won making it this far,' says 'Voice' finalist Kennedy Holmes
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'I've already won making it this far,' says 'Voice' finalist Kennedy Holmes

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The winner of the current season of “The Voice” won’t be revealed until Tuesday, but Kennedy Holmes feels like she’s already won.

The 14-year-old R&B/pop dynamo from Florissant enters the show’s finals, with a live performance Monday and the results show Tuesday.

“I’m here — I’m top four,” Kennedy says. “I’m thrilled to be here, and I feel like I’ve already won just making it this far and getting this opportunity.”

A $100,000 prize and a Universal Music Group contract are at stake. But Kennedy says everything she’s done already has paid off.

“I didn’t really expect to come this far,” she says. “I knew I would just be happy making it to the blinds,” referring to the blind audition round, when her rendition of Adele’s “Turning Tables” earned the rapturous approval of Adam Levine, Kelly Clarkson, Blake Shelton and Jennifer Hudson, whom she selected as her coach.

“I just have to remember to have fun while I’m here, work hard and enjoy it while I have it,” she says.

Kennedy, who has surpassed the accomplishments of previous St. Louis singers on “The Voice,” will face off against a trio of country singers — Chevel Shepherd, Chris Kroeze and Kirk Jay — making her unique going into the finals. Asked whether this would work for or against her, Kennedy says: “I think it’s both in a way. It’s cool that I’m different. I’m not country. But it also works against me. There are a lot of country voters out there.”

She says the other singers are amazing and considers them real competition. All three of her competitors moved into the finals before Kennedy. She was forced into a sing-off for the last spot and was saved instantly by viewers’ votes during the last live show.

Kennedy, the youngest contestant on “The Voice” this season, made her climb to the finals look easy. But “when I think of my whole journey from the blinds to here, it was a hard process.”

Her “Voice” journey, at least the part viewers saw, began in September when the show released a video from her blind audition. The YouTube clip went viral and has been viewed more than 10 million times. It established Kennedy as a frontrunner as she sailed through the prerecorded “battle” and “knockout” rounds on her way to the live shows.

Belting out songs including “This Is Me,” “Halo” and “What About Us” made her an easy choice for viewer votes. Her cover of the Whitney Houston classic “The Greatest Love of All” (originally recorded by George Benson) has been one of her two favorite moments from the season.

“I’ve been listening to that song forever,” Kennedy says. “I loved her as a child, and I was able to honor her through it. She’s been my idol forever, and I’m thankful I got to experience that.”

Performing songs such as those, though, would begin to typecast Kennedy as the girl who does the big ballads. She flipped it and showed a new side when she sang Meghan Trainor’s “Me Too,” complete with choreography.

That become her other favorite moment.

“I wanted to show my versatility, and that was the best time to do it — to show that dancing side of me,” she says. “I got to show America the other side of Kennedy I’d been dying to show. I had the most fun with that.”

Kennedy says her fans have connected with her because of how prepared she has been, particularly for someone her age.

“I grew up quick. I knew I wanted to go into the business,” says Kennedy, who played Little Inez in “Hairspray” at the Muny in 2015 and Melinda Cratchit in “A Christmas Carol” at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis in 2016. Kennedy attends John Burroughs School.

She also thinks fans have noticed her growth on the show. “I’ve been putting more emotion into my songs, making people feel what I feel.” She gives credit to Hudson, her coach, who emphasized the importance of remembering to tell the story and to keep listeners engaged.

“This is like a ‘last look at Kennedy’ kind of thing,” she says of this week’s finals, “where I’m going to pull out all the tricks up my sleeve.”


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