published Thursday, May 26th, 2011

So close: Lauren Alaina runner-up on 'American Idol'

Winner Scotty McCreery, left, hugs finalist Lauren Alaina as Jennifer Lopez hand him his trophy at the "American Idol" finale on Wednesday, May 25, 2011, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
Winner Scotty McCreery, left, hugs finalist Lauren Alaina as Jennifer Lopez hand him his trophy at the "American Idol" finale on Wednesday, May 25, 2011, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

“American Idol” viewers cast a record 122 million-plus votes, but there weren’t enough among them to crown Rossville’s Lauren Alaina the Season 10 champ.

The hometown star’s quest to become the next American Idol fell short, edged out by North Carolina country crooner Scotty McCreery.

At the Renaissance Center in Rossville, where Alaina’s family and friends gathered to watch the results, there was quiet disappointment followed by applause for the winner.

“She's still a winner,” said Linda Stephens, Alaina’s grandmother. “She’s going to go far, going to be a star — and that’s not just Nana talking.”

“We’re proud of her,” said Ann Pruett, one of Alaina’s fans at the viewing party. “She’s still a winner — she was the top female vocalist in this Idol season. I think all of us Southerners have something to be proud of.”

Fans of the 16-year-old Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School sophomore won’t have to wait to hear her music on iTunes. Her first single, “Like My Mother Does,” is available for downloads as well as a Season 10 compilation album of 14 tracks she recorded that sells for $9.99.

“Rossville was very unknown, but now we’re nationally known,” said Rossville Mayor Johnny Baker. “She represented our city in a very positive, classy way. For our town to be represented in such a positive way, money can’t buy that.”

“I think she’s going to make it to the top with or without ‘Idol.’ Her talent is so natural and strong. I think she’ll have a recording contract regardless,” said East Ridge resident John Reid.

“She’s going to do well,” said Lamar Long, employee of Absolutely Affordable Tree Service. “She’ll be singing some hit songs in the future.”

Alaina had been considered a front-runner in the competition since judge Steven Tyler dubbed her “the one” at last summer’s Nashville auditions.

The teenager has made industry contacts as aspiring artists only dream about. She’s sung an impromptu duet with Steven Tyler on an Aerosmith hit. She’s also been mentored by stars such as Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Beyonce, Sheryl Crow, Adam Lambert and Lady Gaga.

She’s recorded tracks under the guidance of veteran record producer Jimmy Iovine. Her face has been silk-screened on merchandise from T-shirts to iPhone skins.

Family members said she will now head to New York before beginning rehearsals for this summer’s Idols Live tour. She will join 10 other finalists for the 45-city national tour. The tour will stop in Atlanta on July 26 and Nashville on July 30.

More: Hundreds gather for watch party at McKenzie Arena

Lauren Alaina brings Lakeview principal to 'American Idol' finale
about Susan Pierce...

Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...

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