LOS ANGELES – Candice Glover was crowned the new “American Idol” on Thursday after defeating country singer Kree Harrison.
The booming R&B vocalist, 23, from St. Helena Island, S.C., looked stunned when “Idol” host Ryan Seacrest announced that she bested soulful country singer Harrison, 22, from Woodville, Texas.
The vote count was not announced.
A weepy Glover performed the new single “I Am Beautiful” after winning the 12th edition of the Fox singing competition. Glover auditioned for the show three times before making it as a finalist this season.
Thursday’s finale also served as a farewell for Randy Jackson.
The show’s lone remaining original judge announced last week that he’s leaving “Idol” to focus on his record label and on other business opportunities.
Jackson bid farewell during Thursday’s season finale.
“I love everybody that walked on this show,” said Jackson, adding, “Hopefully, I touched their lives a little bit. They certainly touched mine.”
The other judges are hip-hop diva Nicki Minaj, pop royalty Mariah Carey and country star Keith Urban.
Jackson has served as a judge on all 12 seasons of “Idol.”
He first appeared on the panel alongside Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul when the competition debuted in 2002, becoming famous for his easygoing “yo, dawg” rapport with contestants, famously telling them they were “pitchy” and “in it to win it.”
Former “Idol” finalist Jennifer Hudson returned to the show for Thursday’s finale to perform a duet with Glover on Natalie Cole’s “Inseparable.”
Hudson was among the guest stars helping to fill out the two-hour finale show, including Psy, Frankie Valli, Emeli Sande, Jessie J and Aretha Franklin.
Current “Idol” judges Urban and Carey – along with Jackson on bass – also performed.
During Wednesday’s final performance round, Harrison sang Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel,” Patty Griffin’s “Up to the Mountain” and potential future single “All Cried Out.”
“I think all three of your performances showcased your beautiful voice and your beautiful soul,” Minaj said of Harrison.
Glover performed Adele’s “Chasing Pavements,” Ben E. King’s “I (Who Have Nothing)” and potential future single “I Am Beautiful.”
Jackson declared the finale a dead heat after Harrison and Glover performed their tunes.
“Dude, this is so close,” he said.
Thursday’s finale could also serve as a send-off for Minaj, Urban and Mariah Carey after reports surfaced last week that the entire judging panel for the show would be replaced following a season fraught with ratings issues.