Fayetteville teen grateful, proud of brief 'Idol' experience
Posted February 28, 2012
Updated February 29, 2012
Fayetteville, N.C. — A teenager from Fayetteville who was given a second chance to compete live for viewers' votes as a semifinalist on "American Idol" came up short in the television singing contest Tuesday night.
David Leathers Jr., a 17-year-old senior at 71st High School, appeared to have been eliminated from the TV singing competition last week when the judges told him he hadn't made it to the top 24.
However, at the end of the show, they announced that they would add a 13th male to the competition and that Leathers was one of four contestants under consideration.
"I'm definitely honored, but I feel blessed by God that I even had this opportunity to even get as far as I did on the show, let alone being selected in one of four places to be in the top 24," Leathers said.
He did not advance to the semifinals after his performance Tuesday, however, but said he was grateful for the experience.
"I'm proud of myself and as far as I got, and I know that everyone who supports me will continue to support me, hopefully," Leathers said. "'American Idol' was definitely a good stepping stone."
His fellow 71st High student, junior Ariel Sprague, was also given the chance to become the 13th female semifinalist. The 16-year-old was one of the last two girls eliminated, but rumors have swirled in the media that she might get lucky and be put back into the competition.
Sprague said she's not counting on those rumors but was rooting for Leathers.
"He deserves it so much. He's so talented. I just really, really want him to get that 13th spot so bad," she said.
Earlier Tuesday, David Leathers Sr. said he was hoping to see both his son and Sprague on "American Idol."
"Both people from Fayetteville, from the same high school," he said. "It would make Fayetteville so proud."
The two teens, who have known each other since middle school, were surprised to see each other at the first audition round in Savannah, Ga. Fayetteville teens talk 'Idol' dreams
They later teamed together for two successful group rounds in Hollywood and Las Vegas.
"We're both in the same school, and now we're both in 'American Idol' in the same group twice," Sprague said. "It was just an amazing experience to be able to interact with each other but doing what we love to do."
Leathers said the lengthy audition process taught him a lot.
"The hardest thing was definitely meeting those deadlines, having to find songs in a short amount of time, learning them all and the lyrics and the music. And you can't mess up, forget the words," he said. "You're nervous, sitting in that chair, and you're just hoping that you make it to the next round."
Leathers and Sprague said they have no regrets about their performances on the show, and however the dice is cast, they'll be grateful for the opportunity.
"They have to make cuts. It's very hard. The talent was very good, and it was a very hard group to pick from," Leathers said said. "We gave it all we had."
"'American Idol' just gave me the most amazing opportunity to sing on one of the best stages ever on national television, so my 'American Idol' experience was one I will never forget my whole, entire life," Sprague said.
One North Carolinian, 23-year-old Chelsea Sorrell, of Stokesdale, has already secured a spot among the top 24.