MONT VERNON — Alex Preston's road to stardom received a major push forward Wednesday when the Mont Vernon native was selected as one of the top 30 contestants on "American Idol."
Preston, 20, secured a coveted spot in the show's top 15 males chosen to move on to next week's live performance.
Wednesday was judgement day for the nearly 50 remaining contestants on the show, as the three celebrity judges began narrowing the field to 30 talented musicians — 15 males and 15 females — from all over the United States seeking the title of season 13's "American Idol."
Preston, whose real name is Alex Preston Philbrick, is a 2011 graduate of Souhegan High School in Amherst. He is on temporary leave from the University of New Hampshire while he pursues his music career and continues with his Idol experience.
His original song, "Fairy Tales," seemed to impress the judges, along with Preston's unusual style of music.
Before Preston was told he made the top 15 group of males, he told the judges, "Honestly, I didn't really think I'd make it this far because my style is so much different, and I didn't know if it would be taken to in this positive way."
Keith Urban, one of the show's judges, joked about Preston leaving the holding room with his guitar still strapped around his shoulder while facing the judges — comparing him to Linus and his security blanket.
However, the light-hearted conversation quickly grew serious as Urban said that there are so many talented contestants this year and only limited spots.
"You have an unusual thing — it is not something that comes through Idol all of the time," Urban told Preston, who has dropped his last name of Philbrick on the show. "I'm glad that you've made it this far, but we just can't take everybody."
After a long agonizing pause, Urban added, "But, we'd like to see you in the top 30."
"Oh my gosh, really?" asked a stunned and visibly relieved Preston. "Thank you so much."
Following the decision, Preston told the cameras that the opportunity to continue performing on Idol means everything to him.
"I'm still in shock, to be honest. It feels like a dream," he said. Preston said he hopes to bring something new to the stage, and hopefully inspire others to do the same.
Preston took a break from Hollywood and returned home to perform for students and staff Tuesday at Souhegan High School before his flight back to Los Angeles.
Preston had some words of wisdom for students, who had the opportunity to hear him sing some original songs.
"If you have a dream, well, you only live once. I know that sounds cliche," he said. "Why wouldn't you go after something you love?"
Preston echoed those comments on air this week, saying it feels like his dream is finally becoming a reality.
"I am hoping for the best — that is all you can do at this point," he said.
Preston is a self-proclaimed band nerd who plays 12 instruments and was a member of the local band Undertow.