PEMBROKE, N.C. — Many people in Robeson County are proud of an
"American Idol" contestant
, not only for her vocal talent, but the way she is representing her heritage.
Charly Lowry's voice has captived people in Pembroke for years. The 20-year-old displayed her talent in the Junior Miss Lumbee pageant about seven years ago and the Purnell Swett High School chorus.
"Charly has an amazing voice, very distinct," said Morgan Hunt, Lowry's friend.
"It's full and rich. She just puts her entire self into it. It comes from the heart when she sings," chorus teacher Ellen Jackson said.
The whole country got a chance to hear her voice Tuesday night when Lowry competed on "American Idol."
"It's amazing that out of all the people across the nation, you are the cream of the crop," Lowry said.
Lowry lives in Chapel Hill now where she is a student at the University of North Carolina, but she has plenty of friends and family in her hometown who watched on a big screen at UNC-Pembroke.
"Everybody is calling, saying 'Make sure you watch tonight. Make sure you call your friends and tell them to vote,'" said Erica Dellinger, Lowry's friend.
Lowry is getting a lot of support at her old high school and at UNC-Pembroke, where she took a few classes. She is also getting support from Lumberton High School.
John Oxendine, Lowry's friend, said much of her support comes from her appreciation of her Lumbee heritage.
"She's very proud of her culture. She still dances at the pow-wows we have," Oxendine said.
The judges were not that impressed with her performance of "Chain of Fools," but Simon Cowell did compliment Lowry's voice. He even agreed with Paula Abdul when she said Lowry got better midway through her performance.
Lowry finds out Tuesday night if America chose her to advance in the competition.
More than 50,000 people tried out for the third installment of "American Idol." Lowry is now one of the 32 finalists.