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‘American Idol’: On the Scene for the Show’s Emotional First Live Elimination

"Maybe America isn’t ready," said drag performer Ada Vox, who was nearly eliminated.

Monday night’s “American Idol” elimination round lowered the number of contestants left on the show to just 10, but raised the level of emotions to 100.

Mara Justine and Compton resident Marcio Donaldson were sent home, as were country singer Garrett Jacobs and Johnny Brenns, who made his first official stage appearance as a musician on the show. While none of the contestants were happy to leave, it’s safe to say there were no sore losers during this round.

Justine showed her poise and maturity when she said after the show, “I feel good. What a blessing it is to be here – to have made it this far. I never would have imagined something like this in my whole entire life.”

Donaldson echoed the sentiment, “Top 14 out of 300,000. When you think about that, it’s only gonna be one winner at the end of the day, if you take it like a sore loser and think that this is the end, then it is the end. But if you take it and you catapult your own career, and you say look at me. That’s where I’m at now. I’m just hungry for it even more.

On leaving, Brenn’s said, “I’m gonna ride this as long as I can. This has kind of shown me that it can be a career and music can be number one in our lives so for the time being I don’t think I’m gonna be returning (to school). It would be really dumb to give up the momentum and just quit, and say oh whatever I’m just going back to how it was before, because this has changed our lives.”

America’s vote brought contestants Catie Turner, Cade Fohner, Caleb Hutchinson, Maddie Poppe, Gabby Barrett and Michael J. Woodard into six spots of the coveted top 10 this week, protecting them from a possible elimination from judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan.

Maddie Poppe’s cover of The Bangles’ “Walk Like An Egyptian,” had the crowd and the judges dancing in their chairs.

She said, “Some people look at it as just a singing competition, it’s not. You’ve got to be the full package. You can’t be switching around to different genres. I don’t want to be a singer that’s just on this show, so I really want to stick to my genre of music. It’s such a good feeling to know that you don’t have to be who everybody wants you to be, you can be yourself and still make it. It’s nice to be accepted for who you want to be, it’s a great feeling.”

Gabby Barrett brought the judges to their feet with her rendition of Miranda Lambert’s, “Little Red Wagon,” a departure from her performance of Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb” on Sunday night.

On choosing songs to perform, Barrett said she has considered using a song by Taylor Swift.

“I was thinking about that, doing a Taylor Swift song for the competition. I think she tells great stories, especially about boys (laughs). I don’t know. I think I might throwback to an old one, when she started out, when she had the country vibe with her, one of those ones,” she said.

When asked, southern rocker Cade Foehner and country singer Caleb Lee Hutchinson both said without hesitation they would be willing to collaborate together.

Hutchinson gushed over his fellow contestant, “I love everybody on this show, but I remember the first time I heard Cade, during Hollywood week, I fangirled so, like y’all have no idea. Like, oh he’s a rock star and he’s so incredibly talented and there’s stuff about him musically that people at home haven’t seen yet, and when they see it, it’s gonna blow their minds.“

The remaining four contestants – Dennis Lorenzo, Michelle Susset, Jurnee Siani and Ada Vox – were brought out of the danger zone and into the top 10 thanks to the judges’ votes.

The most poignant moment of the night belonged to Vox, who delivered a show stopping rendition of “And I am Telling You I’m Not Going,” by Jennifer Holliday, to save herself from being eliminated. Immediately following her performance, the judges made an executive decision to move Vox into the top 10 without much deliberation.

Of the decision, Perry said, “When the Ada moment came it wasn’t just one person’s idea, we all looked at each other and we saw the math, like wait, you’re gonna say Catie and Ada, one of them is going home? No, excuse us, we’re gonna step in now. Now it’s time for Mama, Papa, to step in and say, enough is enough, we are making an executive decision.”

Richie followed up by saying, “We messed up the timetable, but you know what it was, we felt so strongly about it we didn’t have to wait until that vote.”

When asked her thoughts on why she didn’t make it into the top 10 from America’s vote, Vox said, “I’m considered a very controversial figure on this show, and it’s just a testament of, maybe America isn’t ready. But honestly maybe my performance wasn’t good enough. All I have to do, I don’t have to worry about what they think about me as a person. All I have to worry about is picking up my performance game, to make sure that I, no matter what, no matter what the outcome, end on a high note.”

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