ATLANTA — For the second year in a row, a Tar Heel is headed to the American Idol finals.
Fantasia Barrino of High Point will compete against Georgia native Diana DeGarmo.
Barrino has transformed herself from a small-town singer to a big-time performer. She's a hit with the American Idol fans. She's won over the sharped-tongued Simon Cowell, and, if her brief return to High Point two weeks ago is any indication, she will have plenty of hometown support in Tuesday's finals.
The American Idol Finals will be held at the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles. WRAL will have live reports.
The Greensboro Coliseum will host an "American Idol" viewing party Wednesday at 8 p.m. Former "American Idol" runner-up
of Raleigh, serve as the viewing party's host and provide live cut-ins to the programs nationally broadcast two-hour season finale.
The coliseum will open its doors at 6 p.m. Admission is free, and seating is general admission.
Win or lose, Barrino's competition is making plans for her first album. DeGarmo said she will start recording this summer. She finished her junior year of high school while competing on the show, and she plans to finish her senior year much the same way.
"My plans are definitely just to keep the ball rolling -- don't stop while people know who I am," she said.
As American Idol fans prepare for one more night of speed-dialing for their favorites, DeGarmo said she already feels like a winner.
"It's crazy to think that of 70,000 people, little me from Snellville, the youngest girl in the competition, has made it this far," DeGarmo said Sunday. "I'm just so excited to be on such a great show that has helped me in my career, no matter what."
DeGarmo, 16, and Barrino, 19, each will sing three songs on the show Tuesday night. Fans will have four hours, instead of the normal two hours, after the show to cast votes by telephone, and the American Idol winner will be announced Wednesday night.
Last year, both American Idol finalists -- Aiken and winner Ruben Studdard -- released successful albums.
Barrino and DeGarmo share Southern roots as well as a friendship from early in the competition.
DeGarmo said when she and Barrino were told they had made the top 12, "We made a pact we were going to stick together to the end, no matter what, and you know what? It worked."
DeGarmo said Barrino "has a beautiful voice, a very unique voice that really makes her Fantasia."
Barrino returned the compliment, saying Sunday that DeGarmo has a "more powerful" voice than pop stars Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera.
"If I heard her sing a song on the radio, I'd say: 'There's Diana,'" Barrino said. "There's nobody like her."