Originally Published: April 14, 2008 9:08 p.m.
Local relatives of "American Idol" top-10 contestant Brooke White hope voters on tonight's program put her one shot closer to the big time.
White, 24, lives in Mesa and stands in the final rounds continuing tonight as the show eliminates one contestant each night until awarding the title that launched the careers of Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood.
White went to Philadelphia this past summer to try out for the show, and was the last contestant to interview during the first round of auditions, according to family friend Sandra Douglas, a Dewey-Humboldt resident who saw White perform the lead role in her high school production of "Meet Me in St. Louis."
"Her music teacher at Heritage (High School), kind of took her under his wings and really helped her develop her talent, because she didn't know she had the talent at the time. We all thought she was going to Disney, because she has this fabulous art talent," Douglas said, recalling White's change of heart during her senior year.
"She called me up one day and said 'I think I want to go to musical school,' and she never had a lesson. She's self taught on the piano," she said, adding that White won first place in a talent competition in Los Angeles that launched her toward a music career, recording her own CD.
Douglas said White had to drop her contract with her agent and surrender all her rights to her songs to "American Idol" to compete.
"She used to come to our house when she was a little girl. We'd have reunions here, and she would sit down then and play the piano. She plays by ear. She would just make up songs and sing. She's always been very talented," said her aunt Gail Reidhead, a Prescott resident.
"She is just the sweetest, nicest person you will ever meet. And the thing that is so remarkable about her, is that (show judge) Simon Cowell can't get over fact that she doesn't smoke, cuss or drink or has never seen an R-rated movie," she said.
"I'm six foot off the ground," said White's grandfather, Gary Purviance, a Prescott resident. "Were all just tickled to death. She's a wonderful young lady, clean and righteous and the whole nine yards, and I really think the Lord is watching over her."
By qualifying in the top bracket, White has guaranteed a spot on the upcoming summer "American Idol" tour, Douglas said.
"American Idol" airs at 7 p.m. tonight. Fans may vote until Wednesday evening.
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