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Published: Wednesday, 5/19/2010

It's Crystal versus Lee for the 'Idol' faceoff

BY KIRK BAIRD
BLADE STAFF WRITER

It's the American Idol final voters wanted and many watchers predicted.

Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze were both sent through to the final round of the singing competition, while Casey James was eliminated from the show last night.

More than 47 million votes were cast.

“I'm so thankful for the opportunity,” James said after he learned he wouldn't advance beyond the Top 3. “It's been an amazing, amazing journey and I'm just so honored that I'm here.”

The 27-year-old blues-rocker from Fort Worth performed “OK, It's Alright With Me,” by Eric Hutchinson, and “Daughter,” by John Mayer, Tuesday night, leaving the judges and voters mostly unimpressed.

For Bowersox and DeWyze, last night's results means they will be competing for this season's title of American Idol next week. After learning she was safe, Bowersox leaped into DeWyze's arms for a long hug.

The pair have been jostling for frontrunner status for weeks, with DeWyze, a 23-year-old paint store clerk from Mount Prospect, Ill., gaining the upper hand Tuesday night with his much-praised performances of a “Simple Man,” by Lynyrd Skynyrd, and “Hallelujah,” by Leonard Cohen.

Bowersox, a 24-year-old single mom from Elliston, Ohio, also was praised by the judges Tuesday night — in particular for her second performance of the night, “Maybe I'm Amazed” by Paul McCartney.

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Last night, when asked by American Idol host Ryan Seacrest how her perspective about the show has changed after being part of it, Bowersox talked about how much work by the contestants is involved.

“We sing once a week … that whole week is full of press and rehearsals. It's just been a crazy ride,” she said. “Being pushed to give more of yourself and to strive harder and work harder than you ever have in your life makes you a stronger and better person.”

She said that, regardless of next week's outcome, she's “cool with whatever happens.”

“I would love to win. Right now, we're at the stage where anything's obtainable. We're there. We're right in the homestretch of it.”

Bowersox was diagnosed with type-one diabetes when she was 7, and has struggled with it since, including an overnight hospitalization this season. When asked how she's holding up, she said she's never been healthier.

“Thank the Lord for this show 'cause I would never have the care that I have now if it weren't for American Idol, and that's just an amazing thing,” she said. “Amazing.”

As part of the hourlong broadcast, each constant's homecoming trip was shown.

The nearly four-minute clip of Bowersox's hectic northwest Ohio visit on Friday began with her boarding a jet in Los Angeles on Thursday afternoon and finished with her performance at Bowerstock at the Ottawa County Fairgrounds the following evening. In between were clips of her appearance at a West Toledo AT&T store; the downtown Toledo parade and performance at Levis Square; her reunion with family and friends at her dad, Bill's, home, and at Fifth Third Field, where she threw out the ceremonial first pitch for a Mud Hens game.

Much of the homecoming footage featured an original song by Bowersox, “Holy Toledo,” an acoustic piece she performed at her concerts.

“Northwest Ohio has been in kind of a slump for a while, a lot of areas are, but that song, it's one of my originals. It's the anthem for my city and it's given the area so much hope and something to look forward to, and that's what this is all about,” Bowersox told Seacrest as her emotions and tears broke loose. “It's my song.”

American Idol will air beginning at 8 p.m. Tuesday, with the two-hour results show at 8 p.m. Wednesday. American Idol can be seen locally on WUPW-TV, Channel 36.

Contact Kirk Baird at:kbaird@theblade.com, or 419-724-6734



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