Pittsburgh, get ready to vote for your hometown "American Idol" fave contestant Gabby Barrett.
Munhall's Barrett continues to impress, and advance, as a contestant on "American Idol" as the competition heats up.
She is vying for one of the coveted top 14 final spots, after all 24 finalists perform solo and celebrity duet performances during the next two weeks.
Barrett, who recently turned 18 while visiting the 'Burgh during a break from "American Idol" filming in California, landed a spot in the coveted 24 last week when she sang "Ain't No Way" by Aretha Franklin.
Gabby has steadily improved since her audition, and she tells Bobby that her goal is Madison Square Garden in five years. He believes it's a great time to be a female in country music, and he hooks Gabby up with his friend Kelsea Ballerini to offer tips of the trade. Then it's on to "My Church" by Maren Morris.
Sometimes you just feel like singing a Carrie Underwood song in the middle of the California Street😂😂😂 Please tune in tonight and tomorrow night to watch the top 24 on American Idol. 🔥🔥🔥 https://t.co/ZtgZDOzmW7
— Gabby Barrett (@GabbyBarrett_) April 8, 2018
I've never been a fan of the genre, but I have to admit that this girl is the total package. It's a bit nasally in the beginning, but she only gains strength and power before absolutely slaying it at the end — like, professional grade. Lionel's only criticism is to show her personality earlier instead of holding it until the end, and Katy also wants more revving in the middle. Luke lauds her shine, sparkle and "it" factor.
I'll be shocked if she's not in the Top 3, if she doesn't win the whole thing.
Her 6-minute plus segment didn't disappoint.
"I want to make it to Madison Square Garden (performing) in five years," Barrett told guest mentor Bones.
"That's what I like," Bones replied. "Set the goals big, because i think it's a great time to be a female artist in country. So many are now creating a new path for themselves."
Barrett brought the judges to their feet with her rendition of "My Church."
— American Idol (@AmericanIdol) April 9, 2018
Idol judges Katy Perry, Lionel Ritchie and Luke Bryan had offered advice earlier to the contestants before the evening's competition.
"We're looking for the "it" factor, " judge Perry said. "The personality, the unique contribution that they bring to the table and to the entertainment industry which is already extremely packed — so how are they going to cut through?"
Barrett must have been listening, because all three judges unanimously praised her performance Sunday.
Judge Perry wobbled onstage in a faux faint stance, while Ritchie and Bryan jokingly held her up. "That was really cool," Perry said. "It went from zero to 100 real quick."
Country star Bryan said he was "happy" with Barrett's performance. "I'm happy because we're looking for people that have the shine and the sparkle and the "it" factor."
"I have never in my life watched a person get to the end of the song, and blow me away," Ritchie praised. "You have amazing attitude. Continue on your journey my dear it's fantastic."
— Lionel Richie (@LionelRichie) April 9, 2018
"American Idol!!! What An AMAZING Journey!!!!," Barrett posted on her Facebook page this weekend.
Barrett will team up with country duo Sugarland on April 9, during the duet portion of the competition.
"Top 24 duets revealed! I got Sugarland! Can't wait for y'all to see these next performances," Barrett posted on her Instagram page.
Gabby's dad Blase said their recent visit back home was eye-opening.
— Kelsea Central (@KelseaCentral) April 9, 2018
"It was incredible," he said referencing Gabby's interactions with Pittsburgh fans. "Everywhere we went people were asking for autographs and pictures. We were at an Applebee's and the whole restaurant ended up realizing who she was and asking for photos."
Blase said his daugther is handling the experience well "She's so grounded and focused," he said. "I am the one overwhelmed. The three words to describe this journey is we are emotional, growth and blessed."
Gabby Barrett Sings "My Church" by Maren Morris for her Top 24 Solo performance in front of a live audience and Judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie on American Idol 2018.
Gabby Barrett and Sugarland sing "Stay" for their Top 24 All-Star Duets performance in front of a live audience and Judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie on American Idol 2018.
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On to the Duets
That's it for the first half of the Top 24, and overall, it was a pretty solid experience. No one was terrible, though the herd is beginning to travel at different speeds. And, holy hell, did Cade Foehner and Gabby Barrett sprint to the lead. Those two are on a completely different level, and it's hard to imagine anyone from this group catching them.