Connecticut native Sawyer Fredericks has won the eighth season of NBC's "The Voice."
Fredericks, 16, took the title during Tuesday night's finale. The acoustic singer-songwriter edged out fellow finalists Meghan Linsey, Joshua Davis and Koryn Hawthorne.
"It's been the most fantastic thing I've ever experienced. It's just been fantastic," said Fredericks' step-grandmother, Barbara Larsen, who lives in Monroe. "I just want to reach through the TV and hug him."
Although he now lives in upstate New York, Fredericks was born in Newtown and spent much of his childhood in Roxbury. He learned to play the guitar when he was 12 years old and has composed more than three dozen songs in the years since.
"I want him to be able to look back on this as he gets older and realize that he really does have a gift," Larsen said.
She said she is "just so happy for the entire family."
"They worked so hard, even the older brothers have stepped up to the plate to help the farm while he’s been gone for so many months doing all of this, so it’s a win for the entire family," Larsen said. "...They really need some family time. They’ve been away for quite a bit and they are just looking forward to having sawyer and Kirsten come back to the farm. Full time for a while. And regroup. Re-energize and then they can hit the ground running again."
Fredericks released his first full-length album in June 2013 and took the microphone in Seymour for his CD release party. Residents said it was night they won't forget.
"We've just continued to support Sawyer. This has kind of become the unofficial Seymour headquarters for Sawyer Fredericks fans," said Kimberly Dulka, who owns the All-American Valley General Store on Bank Street in Seymour.
Fredericks' grandfather, Jan Larsen, told NBC Connecticut his grandson "sings really from the heart."
"You can feel the tenderness, or the sorrow, or whatever it is he's expressing," said Jan Larsen.
Larsen said his daughter's decision to upload Fredericks' music to YouTube is the move that sparked his journey on "The Voice."
"That was very fortunate, in a way, because 'The Voice' discovered him, asked him if he wanted to audition for 'The Voice,'" Jan Larsen explained.
He said he wasn't surprised that his grandson won.
"Well, deep in my heart, I just had the feeling he was going to get it. Plus, I looked at iTunes top 100 and he was getting in the top 10 all the time. He still got 8 of his songs in the top 100. So just using a little computer technology and my heart, I knew he was gonna win," Sawyer's grandfather said. "And I’m so happy for him. And it was incredible to my daughter and my son in law come down to the stage and Sawyer singing to them and all the confetti coming down. It was just awesome. Totally awesome."
Locals said Sawyer has been an inspiration to local musicians young and old. Jan Larsen hopes his grandson will remain humble as his career takes off.
"Just stay my grandson. Just be yourself. You can be famous if you want. But just remember your family," Jan Larsen said.