13-year-old 'Voice' contestant nails Whitney Houston performance and blows everyone away

“I believe the children are our future,” Whitney Houston once declared in “The Greatest Love of All.” Well, I believe a 13-year-old child named Kennedy Holmes may be the future of The Voice Season 15. Because when she closed Monday’s top 11 performance show belting the classic ballad, it already felt like a grand finale performance.

And the fact that Jennifer Hudson - the diva that honored Houston at the Grammy Awards six years ago, the day after Houston’s tragic death - was Kennedy’s coach… well, that made this feel like a torch-passing, Grammy-worthy moment itself.

 “What Kennedy has that reminds me of Whitney is this natural ability to caress the notes. It's so pure. She's only 13, but she's ready for the competition. She's ready for a career,” Jennifer asserted Monday during rehearsals.

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'The Voice' season 15 judges
THE VOICE -- 'Press Junket' -- Pictured: (l-r) Blake Shelton, Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson, Adam Levine at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, Hollywood, Ca. on August 7, 2018 -- (Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THE VOICE -- Season: 15 -- Pictured: (l-r) Adam Levine, Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson, Blake Shelton -- (Photo by: Art Streiber/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THE VOICE -- Season: 15 -- Pictured: (l-r) Adam Levine, Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson, Blake Shelton -- (Photo by: Art Streiber/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THE VOICE -- Season: 15 -- Pictured: (l-r) Adam Levine, Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson, Blake Shelton -- (Photo by: Art Streiber/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THE VOICE -- 'Blind Auditions' Episode 1501 -- Pictured: (l-r) Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson, Adam Levine, Blake Shelton -- (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THE VOICE -- 'Blind Auditions' Episode 1501 -- Pictured: (l-r) Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson, Adam Levine, Blake Shelton -- (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THE VOICE -- 'Blind Auditions' Episode 1501 -- Pictured: (l-r) Adam Levine, Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson, Blake Shelton -- (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THE VOICE -- 'Blind Auditions' Episode 1501 -- Pictured: (l-r) Adam Levine, Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson, Blake Shelton -- (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
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I’ve actually been critical of Kennedy, the youngest contestant of this season, in the past - certainly not because of her J.Hud-endorsed vocals, which are among the most pristine, proficient, and polished in the competition, but for her lack of emotional connection (which, to be fair, would be a challenge for any kid still in the EIGHTH GRADE).

I’ve always found Kennedy a bit too polished. But this week, Kennedy connected, and she delivered. While there were moments when this felt like a Whitney tribute act, she did take some impressive creative liberties with her phrasing. And that spectacular, air-punching big finish was everything. Yes, Kennedy’s coach took her to “Whitney school,” and the student passed with flying colors. Teach her well and let her lead the way, indeed.

Many fans understandably already declared Kennedy the next winner or even “the next Whitney,” calling her “Whitney reincarnated” and demanding, “Give her the damn trophy right now!" Gushed Jennifer, “I know mama Whitney is proud somewhere up there.”

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