published Friday, March 25th, 2011

Lauren Alaina Suddeth cements her spot on the 'Idol' concert tour

Lauren Alaina Suddeth’s song selection on “American Idol” this week turned out to be prophetic.

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    Lauren Alaina Suddeth performs on "American Idol" on March 23. (Contributed by Michael Becker/ Fox)

The Rossville, Ga., teen sang the Supremes’ 1960s hit “You Keep Me Hangin’ On,” and the show’s voters did just that, returning her to the show for at least another week and cementing her as part of the show’s multi-city summer concert tour.

The tour is typically reserved for the show’s Top 10, but “American Idol” producers expanded the number to 11 because Casey Abrams, the contestant voted off Thursday night, was “saved” by the judges.

The judges, Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler, had one “save” to use this season and they used it to throw a lifeline to the bluesy Texas native, Abrams.

Paul McDonald, a Nashville resident whose mother Susan is an instructor at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, also made it into the Top 11 concert tour group.

It was a night of surprises on “American Idol” as guest star Stevie Wonder sang birthday greetings to Tyler, and professional wrestler Hulk Hogan gave McDonald the good news that he had survived fan voting.

Meanwhile, closer to home, several benefit events held to send Suddeth’s cousin, Holly Witherow, to an “American Idol” performance in Los Angeles have paid off. Witherow, along with her mom, Kim Witherow, was in the show’s audience this week.

Viewers of “American Idol” who have been following Suddeth will remember Witherow’s story from the Nashville auditions.

Suddeth credited her red-headed cousin with encouraging her to pursue singing, and she told the judges her cousin’s battle with cancer had inspired her. “Idol” judges asked Witherow be brought into the audition so they could meet her.

Sales of “Vote Lauren Alaina” fan merchandise at Magoo’s on Rossville Boulevard and Fireball Music, along with a fundraiser by the Rossville VFW, helped to pay the expenses for Witherow’s trip. Family members confirmed Thursday that those benefits raised enough to send the cousin to Hollywood as well as her mother, who is the sister of Suddeth’s mother, Kristy.

Two “Idol” contestants will be voted off next week.

—Mark Kennedy and Susan Pierce contributed to this report.

about Mark Kennedy...

Mark Kennedy is a Times Free Press columnist and editor. He writes the "LIfe Stories" human interest column for the City section and the "Family Life" column for the Life section. He also writes an automotive column, “Test Drive,” for the Business section. For 13 years, Kennedy was features editor of the newspaper, and before that he was the newspaper’s first Sunday editor. The Times Free Press Life section won the state press award for ...

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