Former area ‘Idol’ contestants share picks for tonight’s finale

FOX photo by MICHAEL BECKER -- Burnell Taylor, of New Orleans, performs during the March 20 episode of the singing competition series 'American Idol.'
FOX photo by MICHAEL BECKER -- Burnell Taylor, of New Orleans, performs during the March 20 episode of the singing competition series 'American Idol.'

While the next “American Idol” won’t be from Louisiana, several of this season’s contestants from the area will be glued to their TVs Thursday night for the show’s finale.

Back in Los Angeles for the big night is Burnell Taylor, of New Orleans, who finished seventh this season and will be on the “American Idol” summer tour when it hits his hometown July 30.

After being voted off the show April 4, Taylor has had time to make a trip home, he said by email Tuesday during a break from finale rehearsals. The eliminated finalists will perform in groups during the two-hour finale and results show. The two remaining finalists competed one more time for America’s votes during Wednesday night’s show, and from those votes a new “Idol” will be determined.

“Yes, I have been back to New Orleans, and it was amazing to be back because I had missed it so much. But I was just, you know, I’m just still working on getting right for the tour because I’m really looking forward to the tour, and I think it’s going to be amazing so I can’t wait.”

The top 11 “Idol” finishers embark on the 40-show concert tour June 29 in St. Louis, Mo., with stops in cities including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami and New Orleans before wrapping up in Nashville, Tenn., on Aug. 31.

Meanwhile, Taylor said he isn’t specifically pulling for Candice Glover, a 23-year-old R&B vocalist from St. Helena Island, S.C., or 22-year-old country singer Kree Harrison, of Woodville, Texas, to win it all Thursday night.

“No, I don’t have a favorite. A lot of people don’t believe it when I say that I really have a genuine brother/sister relationship with both of them,” Taylor said. “Like, I love both of them — they’re very talented and I feel like it’s anybody’s game, you know, whoever wins is going to be a great winner because that’s two phenomenal singers, so I’m looking forward to seeing who comes out on top but whoever the other person is, they’re still going to have a career.”

Taylor said he was quite surprised at just how well he did in the competition.

“My reaction was just so shocking because when I auditioned I didn’t expect to make it to Hollywood, so the fact that I made it to (the) top seven ... I mean, a lot of people think I’m bummed because I got eliminated but I feel like I’ve done enough while I was there, so it’s amazing to go through that experience because everybody doesn’t get to that point and it’s amazing,” he said.

Spending weeks together has made all the “Idol” finalists very close, he said.

“But me and Candice, we hit it off like this brother/sister love/hate relationship. Like one minute we’re talking and one minute we’re fighting, I really, really love her. I really, really do.”

Back in Baton Rouge, Megan Miller has followed “Idol” all season. Miller initially auditioned in New Orleans last summer, moving on to final auditions in Baton Rouge in October, when she was told she would be advancing to the next phase, Hollywood Week.

“I looked at my name tag right when I got there (to Hollywood) and found out I was going to be the first contestant to (perform for the judges) out of everybody. So that was the biggest surprise,” Miller said Monday. “I was row one, contestant one, and I was in the same row as Candice Glover. And that’s pretty cool, that she’s in (the) top two, and I was in her row. And I was cut in California and sent home and that was the end of my adventure. But I kind of took it as like a learning experience, because I definitely want to go back. If I don’t win Miss Louisiana, that’s going to be my next move.”

Miller will graduate from LSU this week with a degree in kinesiology, and then begin preparing for the June pageant, where she will be competing as Miss Bossier City. This will be her fifth year in the Miss Louisiana pageant. She was fourth runner-up and talent winner last year.

And who might her favorite “Idol” be?

“I was pulling for Angie, Angie Miller, we had a joke that her and I are cousins. And I love Angie and I cried last week when she got voted off. Now since there are only two, and I’m big fans of them as well, basically for personal preference, I would rather listen to Kree on the radio, so I love her voice and that’s my opinion. But, Candice has literally made history twice on the show, with two of her performances she’s gotten standing ovations, and she’s been told that that’s the best performance on the show so far, and that happened twice so I guess you’d say that as far as deserving, it’s Candice.”

Kara Pitre, of Baton Rouge, in her senior year at LSU in graphic design, first auditioned for “American Idol” in New Orleans in 2010 and was turned away but fared better this year, also making it to the Hollywood rounds.

After arriving in Los Angeles late in the afternoon, the first auditions in front of the judges came the next morning.

“We each sang, in groups of 10 or so, and they kind of tell you on the spot which ones are going to go through and which ones are not.”

Pitre was sent home, but said she still loved the experience.

“It was really fun and I met a lot of cool people that I still keep in touch with (including Megan Miller),” she said.

Pitre said if “Idol” auditions return to a nearby location, she would probably give it another try.

“Just knowing what you have to go through ... just hope for the best, expect the worst and be prepared. So if I tried it again, I would just do what I did the first time, and try my best, and be hopeful that you will (make it),” Pitre said.

She recently joined the local Drew Danzy Band as its vocalist. She’s also been watching the show all season.

“I loved all of the top five girls and I think all of them are great enough to win. I’m thinking that Candice Glover has it, though my dad thinks Kree will win. We shall see,” she said.

Other Louisiana contestants on “Idol” this season included Breanna Steer, of LaPlace, who advanced to the top 20; Brandy Hotard, from Port Allen, who was eliminated in the Las Vegas round that followed Hollywood Week; and Dustin Watts, of Albany; Athena Frangos, of New Orleans; and Khristopher Fuselier and Laurence Hebert, both of Lake Charles, all of whom made it as far as the Hollywood phase.