As fans continue to whittle down the competition on this year’s edition of American Idol, it was revealed Sunday night that Mississippi residents Zachariah Smith and Colin Stough had been placed in the show’s top 20.
Smith, who lives and works in Amory, was the first singer to advance. The 20-year-old grill cook then vied for fans’ continual support with an electric rendition of Foreigner’s “I Want to Know What Love Is.”
“First of all, let me just say this. Zachariah, you have not only grown but to the point now where it’s superstar time,” judge Lionel Richie said. “Perfect song, perfect presentation, and from the crowd reaction, you’re on your way to your career.”
Before Sunday’s performance, Idol producers gave Smith a chance to discuss the recent EF-4 tornado that tore through Amory, leaving the area devastated.
“It was such a scary situation. My kids were screaming. They were crying. They were so scared,” Smith recounted. “A lot of Amory is now gone. People lost their homes. They lost their businesses. Our family business, Bill’s Hamburgers, took a big hit. It was very sad to see Bill’s in the way that it was.”
Smith also used the moment to highlight the outpouring of support for Amory following the tornado.
“After the tornado, it was really, really cool to see that bright spirit. Everybody was helping each other. It makes me very proud to be from Amory,” Smith said. “There is nothing more beautiful than seeing people other people in need. I feel like not only am I doing ‘American Idol’ for me and my family, but now, it’s for my entire city.”
While Smith got to return to the lounge area, Colin Stough of Gattman was on the edge of his seat awaiting his fate in the competition.
It wasn’t until 10 minutes before the three-hour show was set to end when the 18-year-old country singer learned that he too was heading to the top 12. Stough then took the stage with his performance of Parker McCollum’s “Pretty Heart.”
“You’re always going to be so authentic and staying true to your roots and we really appreciate that on ‘American Idol,’” judge Katy Perry said while adding that she wants to keep pushing Stough vocally. “I know you have [more notes] in you, and sometimes, you just go into your shell. But it’s time to shine, Colin. We are on the American Idol top 20 stage.”
Fellow judge Luke Bryan called Stough his “little science experiment” before saying, “I believe you’re a big star, but you’ve got to understand you are.”