Posted on Wed, Feb. 15, 2006
Albemarle waitress makes the cut on 'Idol'
Four N.C. contestants make Top 24
MARK WASHBURNTV/Radio Writer
"American Idol" reached into familiar territory Wednesday, bringing four Carolinians into the finals.
Kellie Pickler of Albemarle, Heather Cox of Jonesville, Bucky Covington of Rockingham, and Chris Daughtry of McLeansville joined the final 24 singers who will compete this year.
Other Carolinians who have made the cut include 2003 runner-up Clay Aiken of Raleigh, 2004 winner Fantasia Barrino of Charlotte and Sarah Mather of Charlotte, eliminated in 2005.
Pickler, 19, an Albemarle roller-skate waitress, wowed the judges in the Greensboro auditions with "Since U Been Gone" and faced the judges on Wednesday night's show for a thumbs up or down on making the final cut.
Her blond hair falling across her face, Pickler walked the length of a Pasadena ballroom and sat down in front of the judges, bracing for the worst.
Paula Abdul broke the news. "We'll be seeing you," she said with a wink. "You made it through."
Pickler buried her head in her hands and wept. Then regaining composure, she had a cosmetics moment, blurting out that she'd bought waterproof mascara after the Greensboro audition.
"Is it working?" she asked. It was.
"American Idol" on Fox is TV's No. 1 show. Tuesday night's show got nearly three times the rating in Charlotte as the Winter Olympics on NBC.
Pickler's twang-plucky voice made her a favorite of the judges and her hard-scrabble background made her a favorite of "Idol" producers in Greensboro.
Pickler explained to them that she lives with her grandfather, Clyde Pickler, because her mother left when she was 2. Her father has been imprisoned much of her life on a variety of charges ranging from assault to robbery.
Pickler was exposed to Charlotte audiences last year in "Gimme the Mike! Charlotte" on WSOC (Channel 9) in which she advanced to the finals but didn't win.
Other Carolinians got cut in the earlier Hollywood rounds.