Camille Comas is this year’s Digicel Rising Star, capturing the hearts — and texts — of Trinidad and Tobago, to take home the 0,000 grand prize.

“Yes I expected (to win). I feel relieved and am ready to celebrate,” said the confident Comas after her victory.

Comas had actually auditioned twice for the show, taking in the judges’ criticisms of her initial performance to “bring it” when she tried out the second time around. “I know I had a purpose and a goal and just stuck with it right through,” she added.

After seven weeks of gruelling competition and passionate performances, during which 12 performers were eventually whittled down to two, Camille could finally revel in her victory over fellow prolific performer Reena Ramsaran yesterday at the Daaga Hall Auditorium, UWI, St Augustine.

Ramsaran, who walked away with ,000 for placing second, was gracious in her defeat, saying, “I am happy for Camille, and to have reached so far. God is good.”

Before the big finale showdown, both girls admitted that they were nervous, but glad to have made it that far.

Those nerves were not obvious however, as Comas and Ramsaran wowed the audience with their electrifying performances. Both paid tribute to their gospel roots, with Ramsaran choosing the classic spiritual “Amazing Grace” as her introductory tune, and Comas going with Yolanda Adams’s “That Name”.

Then came the pop sounds. Ramsaran had the audience applauding her rousing renditions of Alicia Keys’s “No One” and Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds”. Comas helped them get their groove on with Adele’s “Someone Like You” and Tessanne Chin’s “Hideaway”.

The best was yet to come, when they had the crowd moving with their foot-stomping, arm-waving duet, a cover of Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite”. Even the judges put their hands up in the air.

There was no shortage of high-quality entertainment, as last year’s winner Neval Chatelal made a surprise appearance, leaving some people almost in tears with his pore-raising rendition of Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah”.

Not to be outdone, judge Glenda Collens, herself a renowned vocalist, stepped up to the stage, performing “Golden” by Jill Scott, receiving a standing ovation from the very appreciative audience. “That’s a real judge,” said host Hans DesVignes, “She cannot only talk the talk, she can sing the song!”

Finally, it was time to announce the winner. The show started late due to some technical problems, so the already prolonged tension was only heightened. Both finalists were visibly anxious, as the life-changing announcement was about to be made. Just as he was about to announce the winner, DesVignes had to pause for a sound check on his microphone. Take two. As both finalists clutched each other’s hands, DesVignes finally proclaimed, “Camille Comas!” in tandem with the release of a plume of red, white and black confetti.

Judges Collens, Johnny Gonsalves and Michael Salickram were also thrilled with the result, but more than that, proud of how they had developed into the performers they had become.

Collens said, “We are really proud. This competition is very difficult: it’s like boot camp for performers. You don’t just come and sing — you have to have performance, technique and take yourself out there. I am amazed by Reena because this is new for her, and Camille has performance skills. They perform in church — not in this kind of environment, so to take our critique week after week and build on that — that’s a true performer.”