The show must go on.
Despite straining one of her vocal chords in rehearsal only hours before "American Idol's" finale, Lauren Alaina Suddeth was onstage singing for the win. She was treated by the show's physician who cleared her to compete in a country showdown with Scotty McCreery, 17, of North Carolina.
And by the show''s conclusion, "Idol" judges gave Suddeth the nod as winner of all three rounds of competition.
"Totally awesome!" said Paula Steele of Flintstone, Ga., a Suddeth family friend.
"I knew when the rumors started this afternoon about her voice that she would put everything she had into it, and she did. She does not quit," said Steele.
"American Idol's" two finalists, each hoping to jump-start a country music career with a win Wednesday, got an assist from two industry superstars in preparation for Tuesday night's finale.
"Idol's" Season 4 champ Carrie Underwood chose "Maybe It Was Memphis" for Suddeth to sing. Underwood posted on her fan club board Tuesday that it was a song she had wanted to sing during her "Idol" season but never had the chance.
George Strait, "the King of Country" who holds the record for 59 No. 1 hits, chose "Check Yes or No" for McCreery to perform.
In addition to the songs chosen by the stars, Suddeth and McCreery were asked to choose their favorite song from this season to perform.
The pair also sang their "coronation songs" - the singles that will be released by the winner Thursday morning. McCreery's single was "Love You This Big" and Suddeth's was "Like My Mother Does."
Record producer Jimmy Iovine said he chose Suddeth's number because it captured her "American Idol" journey with her mother beside her throughout the process.
"It's a very tight race tonight, but with that song, you may have just won," said judge Jennifer Lopez of Suddeth's emotional tribute to her mother. "You sang with heart, emotion and a beautiful voice."
During her performance of the number, Suddeth walked into the audience to sing to her tearful mother, Kristy Suddeth.
Jason Phibbs, co-owner of The Acoustic Cafe in Ringgold, Ga., where a viewing party was held, said, "It's over. Lauren Suddeth is the winner."
"I think her going up to her mom made the difference," he said. "That was the deal-breaker."
Viewers will find out who is the Season 10 "Idol" when the results show airs at 8 p.m. Wednesday.
Contact Susan Pierce at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6284.