By Rob Moynihan,
American Idol's 11th season came to a close Wednesday night with 21-year-old Georgia native Phillip Phillips beating 16-year-old songstress Jessica Sanchez. After the music faded and the confetti settled, Phillips made his way backstage to address reporters about his big moment. "I'm still a little numb from the situation. It's just so unreal," he said.
The acoustic rocker was a fan favorite all season, never landing in the Bottom 3. His unconventional arrangements of classic tunes (such as "The Letter" and "Time of the Season") were polarizing at times, but the judges always praised his originality and passion. That passion turned into raw emotion as he performed his winning song, "Home," as Wednesday night's show ended, tearing up and leaving the stage to join his family in the audience. "I wasn't thinking about anything, not even the song -- I wasn't even wanting to sing," said Phillips. "I just started thinking about the whole journey, how far all of us had come. It was just so overwhelming."
When reflecting on that journey, Phillips admits he's amazed at how far he's come from those first Savannah auditions. "Honestly, I didn't think I would even make it to see the judges," he said with a laugh. "I have no shame in saying I'm not a great singer. I just love having fun up on stage, jamming with the guys and just playing good music, getting the crowd into it. I love playing music. I'm just a lucky guy."
It's also no secret that Phillips has been battling health and kidney issues for the duration of the season, and he acknowledged his need for surgery before heading out on tour this summer with the Top 10 Idols. "It was very tough, but I had great doctors and great people surrounding me, so they really helped out," he said. "It's just a blessing to be here now."
As for his future, Phillips emphasized he's ready to hit the recording studio to work on his own original material, which will take a different direction than "Home." "I don't really write stuff like that, but it's a very good song," he said. "I'm glad people enjoy it, but I'm excited to do my own stuff."
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