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Mont Vernon's Alex Preston reaches 'American Idol' top 3; will visit hometown and UNH this weekend


MONT VERNON -- A quiet songwriter from small town New Hampshire will be welcomed home with major fanfare this weekend as one of the top three contestants on "American Idol."

It has been a whirlwind of excitement for Alex Preston, a 2011 Souhegan High School graduate who has become famous almost overnight on season 13 of Fox's "American Idol."

On Thursday, Preston advanced to the next phase of the competition where the three finalists return home for a celebratory bash aimed to motivate them for the final leg of the competition.

"We all should be proud for making it this far," Preston told his competitors prior to the live results being announced. He also tweeted to his fans, "It's been real, y'all. Hoping and praying."

Preston, whose real name is Alex Preston Philbrick, will return home this weekend where he is expected to visit Mont Vernon Town Hall around 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Later on Saturday, a parade will be held to recognize Preston's achievements starting at 4:30 p.m. at the University of New Hampshire in Durham. A free, public concert will follow the parade around 7 p.m. at the Whittemore Center at UNH.

“We're really excited to play a role in Alex's hometown visit, and look forward to welcoming him back to the University of New Hampshire,” says a posting on the UNH facebook page.

Preston studied for one year at UNH, but previously took time off to work with his cousin -- multi-platinum country music singer Jo Dee Messina -- in Nashville, Tenn.

“He always carried his guitar around. That's real,” Messina previously posted on her facebook page about Preston.

According to Preston's dad, Paul Philbrick of Mont Vernon, Preston recently returned to New Hampshire intending to restart his college career when the “American Idol” audition occurred and Preston advanced to the top 50 contestants. Preston is enrolled to return to UNH this fall, according to a spokesperson at the school.

Preston has been in Los Angeles for the past several months, managing each week to remain out of the bottom vote-getters and continuing his relationship with girlfriend Jillian Jensen, an Idol contestant who did not survive Rush Week earlier this season.

On Wednesday, Preston dedicated one of his three songs to Jensen, who was present to cheer on the talented singer/songwriter who celebrated his 21st birthday on Tuesday.

Preston took on Jason Mraz's “I'm Yours,” which didn't receive the best critique from celebrity judge Harry Connick Jr. who had hoped that Preston would have switched it up a bit and put his own unique stamp on the song.

Preston also took the stage performing Alex Clare's “Too Close,” which judge Jennifer Lopez said might have been better with a “dramatic drop-out.”

His final performance of Coldplay's “Yellow” drew the most favorable comments from judges, with Keith Urban commenting on Preston's “poetic vulnerability.”

Remaining in the competition is Preston, along with Caleb Johnson and Jena Irene who have consistently performed powerhouse vocals so far on the show. Sent home on Thursday during Break-ups and Make-ups Week was Jessica Meuse.

khoughton@newstote.com


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