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May 01. 2014 9:30PM

NH 'American Idol' contestant moves into competition's top four


Alex Preston performs earlier this year at Souhegan High School in Amherst. (Kimberly Houghton/Union Leader Correspondent)

MONT VERNON -- Hours before Alex Preston was selected as one of the top four contestants on "American Idol," his father said Thursday that the entire family has been thrilled and nervous about Preston's remarkable journey.

A journey that has made Preston a household name and instantly famous with studio recordings, hit singles on iTunes and a possibility to become the next American Idol on season 13 of Fox's reality music competition.

Preston, of Mont Vernon, has continued to impress the judges and America with his quiet, raw musical talent, managing week after week to remain out of the bottom vote-getters. On Thursday night, it was announced that Preston, a Souhegan High School graduate, will continue in the competition for at least another week, as he garnered enough votes to remain safe.

This week, the 20-year-old songwriter from Mont Vernon took on A Great Big World's “Say Something.” His version of the hit song had managed to hit #37 on the iTunes singles chart by Thursday afternoon.

“The lyrics are absolutely beautiful,” Preston told the cameras after his live performance on Wednesday night, saying anyone can relate to the words of the song.

Preston's mother and sister were in Los Angeles for this week's two episodes. His father, Paul Philbrick, remained home in Mont Vernon where he said Thursday that Preston was feeling good about his stage presence this week.

“He feels great. He is happy,” Philbrick said of his son. “He just seems very positive.”

Keith Urban, one of the “American Idol” judges, gave Preston a standing ovation for his “Say Something” performance, describing Preston's version as the perfect marriage between song and artistry.

“It was a really beautiful performance. Congratulations,” echoed Jennifer Lopez.

Harry Connick Jr. was also flowing with compliments, describing Preston as a talented guy with “the performance of the night.”

Following their comments, Preston told the cameras that their feedback means a lot to him, thanking America for picking an ideal song for him to sing.

Wednesday was the first episode where fans were able to select song choices for the five remaining contestants.

“We have all been nervous,” admits Philbrick, who said Preston continuously wants to live up to his own expectations. Still, Philbrick said his son fully understands that it could be any one of the contestants heading home.

Preston had the opportunity to spend some time with his mother, Alice Philbrick, this week in California, where she celebrated her birthday.

“They had lunch together, and she said he feels pretty good,” said Paul Philbrick, who admits he is still stunned that his son -- a student at the University of New Hampshire -- has made it this far in the competition.

khoughton@newstote.com





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