Lauren Alaina Suddeth in 'Idol' Top 3

Lauren Alaina Suddeth in 'Idol' Top 3

Friends, family crow about LFO songbird's homecoming

May 18th, 2011 by Mike O'Neal in Catoosa

Lauren Alaina Suddeth sings to the crowd Saturday at Coolidge Park. The city of Chattanooga estimates a crowd of 10,000 people attended the two-song performance. Photo by Allison Carter

Lauren Alaina Suddeth sings to the crowd Saturday...

Seeing his sister perform on "American Idol" has been "pretty cool" - exciting but nerve-racking, according to Lakeview-Fort Oglehthorpe High School senior Tyler Suddeth.

"Every week is like that first week all over again," he said of the competition that has whittled a field of 24 semifinalists to a final three, including his sister and LFO sophomore, Lauren Alaina.

Lauren has been away from her Georgia home since mid-February, and even though they talk on the telephone, Tyler said his sister is homesick "but busy" and that he was excited for her to visit over the weekend.

"What people don't know is that she misses them (her friends, family and classmates) a lot," he said. "She has matured a lot, but she's still the same Lauren. She won't change."

When asked if he also is a singer, Tyler replies "a little karaoke," but his girlfriend, Carlye Ezell, is less reticient.

"He sings very well," she said.

That endorsement led Tyler to allow that music courses through his family's blood.

"My mom can sing, my dad can sing, everybody in the family is musically inclined," he said. "The difference is Lauren has ambition, the oomph to get up and sing."

The tumultuous activity surrounding her rise from want-to-be to the heights of Idol competition is not the only whirlwind Lauren and those closest to her have faced.

Lauren last week dedicated a song to those who experienced the tornado on April 27, a storm that struck Ringgold within seconds of her performance the previous week.

"The week of the storm I didn't even get to watch her," Tyler said. "The cable went out so we didn't even know how she did or that Ringgold was hit by a tornado."

While saying he was lucky because the tornado missed Fort Oglethorpe, it was not his only close encounter with storm.

Tyler said he loves football, particularly University of Alabama football, though his own hopes for gridiron glory ended when he was an eighth-grader at Lakeview Middle School.

"I hit this big Hercules-like kid facemask to face," he said. "It knocked the wind out of him, but broke my back."

Now resigned to being a fan, Tyler attended the A-Day Spring Football game at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa.

The spot he parked his car for that April 16 game was obliterated 11 days later by the same storms that hit Catoosa County.

"Right where I parked - beside a church - at the stadium is no more," Tyler said.

Even as he counts the days until his graduation, the 17-month-older brother thinks often of his sister and what she has accomplished.

"She hasn't made it yet, but I'm proud of her," Tyler said. "I hope she goes all the way."

Someone certain that has "no doubt she'll go all the way," is Taylor Moulton, also a senior at LFO.

"This is something the class of '11 will always remember," she said. "We had a tornado and an American Idol at our school."

Taylor, four years an LFO cheerleader, said it has been a lot quieter at practice without Lauren being present, but also a lot less fun.

"She's always singing," Taylor said. "We'd be at practice, running - whatever - and she'd be singing."

Though she has gained fame, Taylor said Lauren "is not the type person to change, she'll stay the same but a lot more people will know who she is."

Taylor, who will attend the University of Alabama, which is also the Suddeth's favorite college, said she expects Lauren to come visit her.

And whatever the outcome of the final vote and Lauren's future, Taylor said, "I'll always be able to say that we were friends."