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May 10. 2014 6:01PM

Team Alex makes some noise in 'American Idol' finalist's hometown visit


Alex Preston signs autographs for fans outside the Mont Vernon Town Hall on Saturday. (KIMBERLY HOUGHTON/Union Leader Correspondent)

MONT VERNON -- Team Alex was out in full force on Saturday, finally getting the chance to see Mont Vernon's famous singer and songwriter in person and live on stage.

It was a loud homecoming for Alex Preston, New Hampshire's quiet “American Idol” contestant who has secured a spot in the top three of season 13. Fans waited for several hours to get a glimpse of Preston, 21, of Mont Vernon, who arrived in style with a large limousine and “American Idol” camera crew in tow.

South Main Street in Mont Vernon was closed to traffic, as hundreds of people from all over New England crowded the streets outside of Mont Vernon Town Hall to hear Preston sing.

“It means so much that I can actually be here in person to thank you guys for all of the support you have been giving me,” Preston told the crowd.

Gov. Maggie Hassan was there to present Preston with a proclamation claiming Saturday as Alex Preston Day in New Hampshire.

“We are all so incredibly proud of you,” she told Preston, a 2011 graduate of Souhegan High School and a student at the University of New Hampshire. “You are by far the most popular thing to be going on in New Hampshire.”

According to Hassan, Preston has brought originality and artistry to the Idol stage as he continues to follow his dream and represent the Granite State so well.

Preston was the only contestant to submit an online audition and be accepted to Los Angeles for Fox's hit music competition.

“We have watched you grow as an artist and as a person,” said Hassan. “You are getting better and better every week.”

While visiting with fans at Mont Vernon Town Hall, Preston took the opportunity to sing his original song, “Fairytales,” while also singing his version of Ed Sheeran's “A-Team.”

Prior to visiting his old stomping ground at Souhegan High School, where he took a walk down memory lane with one of his fellow music advisors and also sang for a large crowd that packed the football stadium, Preston took a minute to speak with the New Hampshire Union Leader about his instant rise to stardom.

“I never thought I would make it this far. Now that it is the top three … whatever happens after this is just all good,” said Preston.

Preston said he was incredibly excited to return to New Hampshire this weekend for Idol's hometown hero celebration.

“This is absolutely insane that the whole town came out to support me. It is absolutely crazy,” said Preston, who was joined by his parents and siblings.

Despite the chaos and whirlwind surrounding Saturday's homecoming festivities, Preston said he is already preparing for Wednesday's “American Idol” show where he will sing three songs -- one selected by the celebrity judges, one selected by adviser Randy Jackson and one chosen by Hassan.

While on a private plane ride back to New Hampshire, Preston said he listened to all of the songs that he has been asked to perform this week.

“It is a lot of work, but it is worth it,” said Preston, who has already secured a spot on the “American Idol” summer tour.

As for his college career, Preston says he is still a student at the University of New Hampshire, but has been deferring classes since his Idol journey began. He acknowledges that he may take some time off after the tour.

Durham also celebrated Preston's homecoming on Saturday with a large parade and free concert at the Whittemore Center.

People from all over New Hampshire and beyond traveled to hear Preston sing in person.

“We love his hair, we love his voice, we love his eyes. We love everything about him,” said fan Sarah Licqurish of Dunstable, Mass.

Her twin sister, Emma Licqurish, agreed, saying they have been big Preston supporters since his audition.

Kathleen Murphy of Groton, Mass., said she couldn't wait to see Preston, saying his unique voice and enduring smile make him a terrific performer.

For Preston's family, the fame may be a little overwhelming, but the support is incredibly welcoming, according to Alice Philbrick, Preston's mother.

“I am just so happy, and I am so, so proud of him. I can't even stand it,” said Philbrick. “He is so grateful to be working with the best of the best in the business.”

Preston's sister, Samantha Philbrick, described her brother's journey as unbelievable.

“What can I say, this is beautiful,” said the younger Philbrick while watching a large crowd cheer on her brother.

In recognizing Preston for his accomplishments, the governor said Preston has brought pride and joy to Mont Vernon and New Hampshire, but she reminded him that “the light was already here” -- the title of one of Preston's original songs.

khoughton@newstote.com



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