MONT VERNON — It has been an unimaginable journey to stardom for Mont Vernon native Alex Preston, whose quest to become the next American Idol was cut short on Thursday night.
The 21-year-old singer and songwriter failed to secure enough votes to make it into the “American Idol” finale as one of the two remaining contestants. Instead, Preston finished the intense television competition in third place, but will still participate in the Idol summer tour.
It was a challenging week for Preston, who tweeted Thursday that he was suffering from bronchitis.
“I am on two antibiotics and lung steroids. But, I tried my best,” posted Preston, a 2011 Souhegan High School graduate and a student at the University of New Hampshire.
Preston opted to keep his health condition private until the day after his three onstage performances, unlike one of his competitors who shared during Wednesday’s show that he also was sick.
Despite the bronchitis, Preston had a strong night on Wednesday, singing three songs that at one point placed two celebrity judges on their feet with a standing ovation.
The quiet, dark horse in Fox’s music competition has been a consistently strong contestant throughout the past several months, managing to stay out of the bottom vote-getters all but once.
But for the remainder of season 13, two power-house competitors — Caleb Johnson and Jena Irene — will vie for the prestigious title.
During a visit to Mont Vernon last weekend, Preston told the New Hampshire Union Leader, “I never thought I would make it this far. Now that it is the top three ... whatever happens after this is just all good.”
Preston stepped out of his comfort zone this week, playing the drums on stage and veering away from the microphone stand to greet the audience.
“It was a different Alex,” said judge Jennifer Lopez, praising Preston for his “elevated” stage presence during his version of Bastille’s “Pompeii.”
The judges provided their most positive feedback after Preston’s performance of “Stay” by Rihanna.
“I knew that you would sing the heck out of that song,” said Lopez, who described Preston’s version as beautiful, and all his.
Preston also performed an up-tempo cover of “Story of My Life” by One Direction, which was chosen by New Hampshire residents in a poll initiated by Gov. Maggie Hassan.
“I feel like they know who I am as an artist,” Preston said of his home state fans, acknowledging all of the final contestants are a little homesick after spending the past weekend visiting with friends and family.
“Your hometown really cares about you,” agreed Harry Connick Jr., who said Preston’s last performance of the night was a classic.