Now, the 41-year-old pastor from Mississippi has been crowned the show’s 2020 winner, earning $100,000 and a record deal.
Tilghman — who is married to his high school sweetheart and has eight kids — made show history with his victory, being the oldest singer to win out of all 18 seasons, according to the Washington Post.
His audition for “The Voice” was the first one to air during the season premiere in February. Tilghman’s raspy performance of Bob Seger’s “We’ve Got Tonight” had all four judges fighting over him.
In an attempt to win Tilghman over, John Legend said he loved “the joy and the spirit” the singer displayed, and revealed that his grandfather was a pastor. Nick Jonas said his father was a pastor, and even began to sing a Phillips, Craig and Dean worship song on the spot. And Clarkson, who said she grew up singing in church, told Tilghman his voice reminded her of Chris Stapleton and Kenny Rogers.
But ultimately, Tilghman went with Blake Shelton.
“I love your voice. I love the passion. I love the range. … I love the hop,” Shelton said during the audition, calling Tilghman’s praise dance the “Holy Hop.”
The pastor continued to impress the show’s judges, singing his way through the Battles, Knockouts and live shows, landing in the top five.
Tilghman’s victory marks the seventh win for Shelton, who has been a coach on the show from the beginning. The singer remained on Team Blake for the entire season.
When the overnight votes were tallied, Toneisha Harris and Thunderstorm Artis rounded out the top 3. Tilghman’s victory didn’t come as too much of a surprise — Gold Derby, a predictor of reality competitions, noted that Tilghman’s original song “Long Way Home” hit No. 1 on the iTunes top 100. His duet with Shelton, “Authority Song,” was at No. 42. This made Tilghman the show’s frontrunner, according to Gold Derby.
But Tuesday night’s finale made it official.
Tilghman was surround by his wife and kids when “The Voice” host Carson Daly declared him the winner.
“I wish I knew how to say thank you. And I wish y’all knew how much I respect and admire my new friends and fellow artists/contestants on @NBCTheVoice,” Tilghman wrote on Twitter Wednesday morning. “I don’t know how long it’ll take me to process, but I sure am #grateful for every moment.”
I wish I knew how to say thank you. And I wish y’all knew how much I respect and admire my new friends and fellow artists/contestants on @NBCTheVoice. I don’t know how long it’ll take me to process, but I sure am #grateful for every moment. @blakeshelton #TheVoice— Todd Tilghman (@todd_tilghman) May 20, 2020
“You’ve kind of been this well-kept secret down there in Meridian, Mississippi. Nobody knew this incredible superstar was lurking in a church down there,” Shelton told Tilghman during the finale. “Todd’s really what this show is all about. He’s never sang outside of church before. He lives in a small town. He’s got eight kids. The world should know about these artists.”