Tonight and Thursday night, two area singers will compete to keep their American Idol dreams alive.
Six-foot-eight Jermaine Jones of Pine Hill, called a "gentle giant" by judge Jennifer Lopez, last week impressed in Las Vegas with his deep and soulful duet of "Make It Easy on Yourself" with a Texas "cowboy."
Lancaster native Naomi Gillies, who went to a Philadelphia private school, made it to Hollywood performing judge Steven Tyler's "Crying," and most recently advanced as part of a trio that did throwbacks "Mr. Sandman" and "Mr. Postman."
They're just two of 42 who will serenade the judges tonight from 8 to 10 on Fox, and Thursday evening from 8 to 9, in hopes of making the final 24.
Not so lucky was Philadelphia's Courtney Williams, an Immaculata University grad, who seems to have been cut since getting the go-ahead after her group's "You Keep Me Hanging On."
Judge Randy Jackson's comments afterward showed marginal support, which upset her: "I know, Courtney, you were trying to take some chances. Sometimes it was a little much for me." Such reservations may have led to her being part of a slew of off-camera eliminations.
After the duet with Richie Law, the judges were impressed with Jones, a 25-year-old music teacher. "Beautiful," said Tyler. "I love you . . . perfect, perfect," said Lopez.
One online story even compared him to the legendary Paul Robeson, also from New Jersey.
Jones is close to his mother, Katrice Cornett, who said, "The night I delivered Jermaine, I did a whole church service and a concert, so we were saying that he came out singing."
"I believe I'm the next American Idol because the gift that God instilled in my voice is too good to just keep in Pine Hill, New Jersey," said Jones.
Gillies, 22, said she was encouraged to audition by teachers at Boston's Berklee College of Music, where she's a performance and music business major. "If you got it, you got it, you got it," said Jackson, just before she passed her first audition.
"I'm pretty shy by nature," said Gillies, who attended Waldorf School in Philadelphia as a child. "... But once I get up onstage it all goes away."
For a couple years, she's been busy performing professionally, apparently mostly at weddings and other events, with a band called K2 (www.k2band.com).
Those who can't stand suspense can probably find out whether Jones or Gillies or both survive. The names of the Top 24 have supposedly leaked out, since shows were taped weeks in advance, according to online reports.
No reason to blurt the outcomes here.
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