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April 18. 2014 9:52PM

‘Idol’ talk in NH as Mont Vernon's Alex Preston in final 6


Alex Preston performs earlier this year at Souhegan High School in Amherst. (Kimberly Houghton/Union Leader Correspondent)


Alex Preston of Mont Vernon acknowledges the audience during his performance Wednesday on “American Idol.” Preston is among the show’s six finalists. FOX 

MONT VERNON — A quiet, passionate young man from the small town of Mont Vernon continues to successfully take on “American Idol” despite his self-proclaimed shy and awkward tendencies.

Fans of the televised music competition — including many from New Hampshire — have taken a sincere liking to the talented songwriter Alex Preston Philbrick, who is known simply as Alex Preston on the 13th season of Fox’s “American Idol.”

Preston, who graduated from Souhegan High School in Amherst, has managed to avoid being one of the bottom vote-getters thus far into the competition, keeping pace with powerhouse voices and energetic performances from other young artists seeking the next “American Idol” title.

“He is hanging on,” said Principal Rob Scully of Souhegan High School. “We obviously noticed Alex’s talents here, and it is no surprise to us that he is carrying a humility and sense of confidence with him in this competition. He is finding real joy in one of his passions.”

This week, Preston secured a seat in the final six, and will return on Wednesday to perform one country song and one rock-n-roll song. Preston is already guaranteed a spot on the “Idol” summer concert tour.

His story is reaching far beyond Los Angeles, as students and faculty at Souhegan High School are listening to Preston’s message of working hard, committing to goals and reaching for the impossible, Scully said.

“I think Alex is gracious with his message. As adults, we often have our talking points, but his message, as a graduate of Souhegan, can really sink into this school community,” said Scully. “If you invest in what you believe in, you can reach excellence.”

After it was announced Thursday that Preston made it to top six and will continue in the competition, he quickly tweeted to his friends, “Safe! Thank you ALL!”

On Wednesday, Preston took the stage and performed his own version of “A Team” by Ed Sheeran. All of the celebrity judges praised his work, with Jennifer Lopez having to wait patiently for the crowd to end its applause before offering words of encouragement.

“You deserve that applause,” she told Preston. “It was a perfect song.”

Her sentiments were echoed by Harry Connick Jr., who said Preston’s performance was the best of the night. However, Connick changed his mind after competitor Jena Irene took on “Creep.”

Keith Urban agreed it was the right song choice for Preston, 20. Urban encouraged the New Hampshire native to continue making songs his own, as the audience seems to respond naturally to Preston’s artistic interpretations.

“You do it really, really well. It was great,” said Urban.

Country contestant Dexter Roberts said goodbye on Thursday. In addition to Preston, the remaining contestants include Irene, C.J. Harris, Sam Woolf, Jessica Meuse and Caleb Johnson.

To celebrate Preston’s latest save on the show, Souhegan students recognized him on Friday during a pep rally following the school’s Run for Hope event. The student body watched a short video clip of Preston thanking New Hampshire for its votes and support.

In return, students and staff at the high school conducted their traditional foot-stomping cheer to keep Preston motivated and inspired.

“Our music kids here are really an invested group, and I know this means a lot to them,” said Scully, stressing Preston is not only a Souhegan graduate, but really a product of the entire SAU 39. “We just happened to have Alex last, but we couldn’t be more proud of him.”

khoughton@newstote.com


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