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‘American Idol’ Final Three Talk Carrie Underwood, Upcoming Finale

Mother’s Day brought a flurry of emotions to “American Idol” as viewers voted the top five down to the top three, bringing the audience — and the contestants — even closer to the finale.

This week, contestants were mentored by former ” Idol” winner and country star Carrie Underwood. The remaining five each gave two performances — one of Underwood’s songs, as well as a second song choice centered on the theme of the holiday.

During the last live taping of the season, voters sent Gabby Barrett, Maddie Poppe and Caleb Lee Hutchinson to the final round, while Cade Foehner and Michael J. Woodard completed their journey on the show.

Barrett called working with Underwood “unbelievable.”

“I don’t have words to put into that because I’ve looked up to her my entire life. I’ve just watched everything that she’s done as a person [and] as an artist. I was like, ‘I appreciate you so much for being so genuine when you talk to somebody,’ because it is the worst when you talk to a celebrity on the camera and they’re so nice to your face and then the camera shuts off and they’re completely opposite. But she is a true, genuine person,” Barrett said.

Hutchinson echoed those sentiments, saying, “Nashville was crazy, I love Nashville so much it was almost like being home. We got to meet up with [Carrie] at the Bluebird Café, which is insane. I don’t know if everybody realizes how cool that is but the Bluebird is legendary. Getting to meet Carrie Underwood — who is one of my biggest idols in music and in life — she’s such a larger than life person and getting to meet her was mind blowing and realizing she’s just a person, she just happens to have the voice of an angel.”

To celebrate Mother’s Day, the contestants each wrote letters of appreciation to their moms, which lead to heartfelt moments on camera as each of them read the letters to each other. The contenders also chose songs that symbolized their relationship with their moms, which brought some tears on set.

“I love my mom with all my heart and I wouldn’t be here without my mom,” Barrett said. “I did ‘I Have Nothing’ by Whitney Houston because I dedicated that song to her every time she came to one of my shows. You don’t have anything without your mom, you only have one mom and you have one dad, and your mom is normally the one that just leads you through growing up in life, and my mom did for me. And for her to be here and for me to be able to sing that song to her that I would sing at my shows on American Idol for her, just meant the world.”

While he performed “Stars in Alabama” by Jamey Johnson Hutchinson’s mother sat in the stands and sang along with her son.

“I think I got her a pretty good gift, which makes me feel good,” he said. “I didn’t get her breakfast in bed this year, but I got her a ticket out here anyhow. I couldn’t look at her because I would have cried and I had to hit these notes. Towards the end she was singing along and crying her eyes out and I was getting a little emotional. I love my mom; she’s my best pal.”

As everyone gears up for the finale, contestants are planning for their last performances on the show. Not everyone is going to be able to perform the song they have their hearts set on, though.

Barrett shared that a song she wants to perform by the end of the season is “Paradise City” by Guns N’ Roses. Unfortunately, she said, it “isn’t on the cleared list.” So while she wants to try to “convince them into it,” she admits she just wants to “do something kick butt, for sure.”

Poppe takes a different tactic. “I don’t ever plan ahead because I don’t know if I’m gonna get there,” she said. “I don’t want to get my hopes up and then get cut and be like, ‘Oh I didn’t get to sing my song.” So right now to be totally honest I don’t have anything planned for next week. And it’s scary, but I’m ready for it. I’m just happy I’m in the finale, you know? It’s cool that we’re all gonna get just as much exposure, no matter who wins, everyone’s gonna get the same amount of exposure.”

The two contestants who were sent home, Foehner and Woodard, will still take part in the “American Idol” tour, set to hit 40 cities this summer, featuring the top seven on the lineup.

While they may not have made it to the end, both men said they would take away life lessons from being a part of the show.

“Honestly being here I learned a little about the business and what it takes to actually do something like this. And it does take a lot of you, but I feel like this is what I have been put here to do — at least in a greater part of my life. I know who I am as an artist, and I thought I knew when I came here, but I sure do now. ‘American Idol’ tests you and bends and gets you to the breaking point of who you are, so I have solidified who I am with the lord,” Foehner said.

Woodard echoed those feelings. “Learning how to stay true to myself, you have so many directions and people telling you to go so many different ways and do this, that and the third, you have to really dig deep inside yourself and make sure your voice is identified, so you really learn how to stay true to yourself and I think I learned that,” he said.

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