New 'Idol' winner: Show helped me be myself

(CNN) -- Candice Glover could barely remember her own name after she was crowned the new "American Idol" on Thursday.

"I'm still trying to process the whole thing, I don't even know what's happening," she told the press backstage. "It feels amazing though that I finally got to this point; I've been working for so long."

The singer, who stunned judges and viewers with a remarkable performance of "Lovesong" earlier in the season, had tried out for "American Idol" twice before, making her third audition truly the charm. Candice, 23, is the first woman to win "American Idol" since season 6's Jordin Sparks.

Yet "Idol's" final stretch has been all about the ladies, as the final three included Candice, Kree Harrison and Angie Miller. Although Candice earned enough votes to surpass Kree, the singer said they're both "super supportive of each other, and I know no matter what I'm going to buy Kree's album, and I think the whole world will."

Thursday's "Idol" finale included performances from former "Idol" judge Jennifer Lopez, current judges Keith Urban and Mariah Carey, and former "Idol" star Jennifer Hudson, who sang "Inseparable" with Candice.

While the new "American Idol" hasn't started on her album yet, fans have a taste of what's to come with "I Am Beautiful," which is Candice's first single.

"When I first heard the song, I was in tears, because I connect with the song so much. It's not only about a girl that's been done wrong by her ex-boyfriend, but, like with me, being attacked all the time, and being told that you're not good enough, or you're not as pretty as you should be. ... That song is a message to everybody that ever said that to me, as well as all these girls that are growing up and feeling that they're not beautiful. I think it's connects with a lot of people in their hearts."

It took Candice a few tries to get to this point on "Idol," but the lessons learned along the way were worth it.

"I think I definitely learned how to be confident and how to be myself and be OK with who I am," she said. "In previous seasons, I was doing what I thought America wanted, or what the judges wanted, but this year I did whatever I wanted to do. Hence why I would do a rapper's song on the show, or why I would do The Cure when nobody expected me to. In previous seasons, I wouldn't have done any of that, because I wasn't comfortable in who I was. But I think that's the difference between now and other seasons."