They came by the hundreds and they came early.
They came to the York Fairgrounds to see 17-year-old country music sensation Danielle Bradbery, Season 4 winner of The Voice.
Friends Emma Schneider, 11; Katie Ernst, 11; Molly Devine, 12; and Bradi Zumbrum, 12, arrived at the WGTY Great Country Radio Stage at 10:30 a.m. so they could snag seats just in front of the stage to watch Danielle’s show.
That show, by the way, didn’t begin until eight hours later.
“She’s my idol. She’s my inspiration,” Bradi said. “I’m doing a book report on her for music class.”
Molly called Danielle “an amazing ball of talent” while Katie declared her as “the best singer I’ve ever heard.”And that singer had lots of new material to showcase during her Saturday night performance, singing her post-Voice single “Heart of Dixie” and four other songs from her upcoming debut album.
Those included “Young in America,” “Dance Hall,” “Never Like This” and “Daughter of a Working Man,” the latter a ballad that has all the earmarks of a country hit. That debut album is set for a November release.
Danielle also did a medley of three songs she sang on The Voice and turned in a brilliant cover of “See You Again,” a song by one of her Idols, Carrie Underwood.
She told the crowd that she posted a cover of the song to YouTube and sent out a link on Twitter. She said she was thrilled to get a tweet back from Carrie that read: “I’m listening, Danielle.” (For audio snippets from the show, head here.)
Danielle also seemed thrilled by the reception she received in York.
Two songs into her show, when there was a halt in the screams of affection and applause, she said: “Wow, there are a lot of you out there.”And many of them came a long way to see her.
Kate Bridge, 14, traveled two hours from Ashburn, Va., with her mom and Kamryn Kirkpatrick, 14, and Koby Fink, 12, to get front-row seats for the show, arriving at about 1 p.m.
Though Danielle was up against far more experienced singers on The Voice, Kate said she showed the most passion in her music. And Kamryn said her inexperience never showed.
Koby said the fact that she was the underdog and so young probably made her more appealing to Voice voters. “And she’s such a powerful singer,” he added. “Her voice is really mature for her age.”
Destiny Patrey, 12, and Emma Thomas, 12, traveled even farther to see Saturday’s show — three hours from Hellertown, Pa. And they were a little disappointed to find themselves about 200 fans deep in the line for autographs at the end of the show, fearing Danielle would stop signing before they got their turn.
But they left no doubt that they were thrilled with Danielle’s performance and her new music.
“I think it’s amazing” Emma said. “It touches your heart.”
Added Destiny: “She’s like absolutely amazing. You can’t not like her.”
Editor’s Note: Also read Danielle’s pre-show interview about her new music and her Voice experience here, and about how she got through a nerve-wracking performance of the national anthem at the NFL season opener with the help of Bronco quarterback Peyton Manning here.