Like it or not, Michael Grimm got the most votes and is the winner of America's Got Talent. The soft-spoken, laid-back singer from Louisiana proved to be as humble as ever this afternoon in a media conference call held in the wake of his big win. Here's what the singer had to say (or had to keep from us, in some cases) about the win and about competing with fan favorite Jackie Evancho.
What does the win mean to you?
"It means the world to me, I'm so excited to get down to Mississippi and start on plans for a house for my grandparents. I can't really express how I feel through words."
What did you say to Jackie on stage?
"Without sounding rude, that's our little secret there. I just think the world of her and I really didn't expect to win, especially next to her on stage. It was an honor but at the same time I was very scared. I said, 'you know what, I went this far and I've had a wonderful time,' and I was just thinking in my head all the thank you's I'm gonna say when they vote Jackie through, and they said my name and I just absolutely could not believe it. It just took me by surprise."
Did you imagine yourself winning?
"I thought from the get-go that it was going to be Jackie. From the moment I heard her I said, well this is already done . . . America voted me through and I was amazed each time I made it through, and I made it up to the second spot, there next to Jackie and I thought 'this is it, I'm about to gracefully bow out of this' and I was perfectly fine with it, and then they announced my name as the winner and I just couldn't believe it."
What made America's Got Talent the show you wanted to try out for? What was it about this year and this season?
"Well first off I tried out for this show last year and didn't even make it through the first audition . . . The reason why I chose this show was, well I never really thought about doing reality shows too much of any sort. A lot of people asked me about American Idol but I was always afraid of that because of what American Idol is, by definition. I'm not that guy. There's a lot of kids out there that want that spot. So I thought America's Got Talent would give me the opportunity to do what I do and do it all the way through if America would allow me to do so, which they did. And I'm very shocked . . . I'm still in shock."
Have you started thinking about what kind of album you want to put out or who you might want to work with?
"There's all kinds of people I would love to work with. The album, I've been working on that in my head and on paper for many years and just haven't had the money to back me."
I want to go back to that moment with Jackie. A lot of people were struck by how gracious you were in that moment. What did you think of her reaction and do you understand why people were so struck by that moment?
"I haven't followed up on what the media's been saying and I haven't even seen the episodes . . . When I was voted through and I won, first off I really didn't think I was going to make it. It was a big shock, I was next to Jackie she's such a powerhouse of a singer and she's just as adorable as can be, I love her to death . . . I told her, 'Jackie, you got this' . . . and she said, 'No, you got it' . . . When I won it was a bittersweet moment. I was rejoicing inside for my grandparents, for me for having made it, but at the same time I was feeling very bad for Jackie. I wanted her to win this. So my heart went out to her. I had to give her a big hug and tell her everything's going to be alright. She knew that, she's a very strong girl."
Could you talk a bit about your sister and your family and the appreciation of all the hard work coming to this result for you and what it means for all of your loved ones?
"Its hard to talk about some of that. I'm not sure how to respond on the current situation in my family, with my sister at least. My sister is probably rejoicing about all of this, if she's heard of any of this so far. My sister is . . . she's not around the family. She is . . . she's just not around right now. I would love to see her and know what she's thinking. My grandparents are just enjoying this moment and that excites me so much because they need that right now."
So is the prize a one-time performance in Vegas or a string of concerts?
"Well it's a tour that we do and it stops in Vegas at Ceasar's Palace I believe . . ."
What's the one thing you'd like to treat yourself to (with the money)?
"I haven't really thought about it. There's nothing that I would need, I pretty much have everything that I need . . . I want to be happy and want my girl around me. There are other people out there who need this money more than I do so my whole goal and ambition behind this was to set my grandparents up and then to put some towards the community in my hometown. After the destruction in Katrina they're still rebuilding and there are places that need parts and if I can do anything to help . . . I'm going to be involved. As far as myself, give me a house, a small house, keep a low overhead and keep on doing what I'm doing. I'm still young, so I have a lot of years coming to make money."
Did you have a favorite singer growing up?
"Oh yes. I grew up on country music as a child, so George Jones was my number one. He was my idol through my childhood. When I discovered soul music in my later teens I was drawn to the voice of Otis Redding and Al Green, Sam and Dave. Mainly Otis Redding, there's something he does to me when he sings. He does it to everybody if you listen to him."
"Once again thanks to America, and thanks to America's Got Talent. I want to thank God for everything, I would like that message to get out there for sure."
(image courtesy of NBC)