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Emmy Russell to fight for spot in ‘American Idol’ top 12

Kingston Springs’ Emmy Russell will fight for a spot in the top 12 of this season of “American Idol” this Sunday, April 21 at 7 p.m., on ABC. 


Live from Hollywood, Russell will take the stage with 13 of her competitors, to perform renditions of songs from legendary Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees. 


Gene Simmons – lead singer of the hard rock band Kiss – will serve as the guest mentor. America will vote live for the top 12, sending home two “Idol” contestants by the end of the episode. 


Thus far in her “American Idol” journey, country music legend Loretta Lynn’s grand-daughter has made it past two rounds of cuts – making into both the top 20, and top 14 – via the nation’s vote.


During the April 8 episode set in Hawai’i, Russell performed her unique rendition of “Beautiful Things” from former “Idol” contender Benson Boone – transforming the pop song into a country ballad. 


Emmy Russell sang a slowed down version of the pop song "Beautiful Things" by former "Idol" contender Benson Boone that ultimately landed her a spot in the top 20 during America's first vote of the season. / Disney Erin McCandless

Since her Nashville audition in front of iconic judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan, the 25-year-old singer-songwriter has been transparent about her nerves and struggles with self-confidence – much of which stems from the feeling of needing to fill her late grandmother’s shoes. 


“This journey has done a lot for my confidence, but I think sometimes my nerves get the best of me,” she said during the top 24 episode. “I’m going to try my best to push the nerves aside, and I hope everyone feels that.” 


Despite her nerves, Russell perfectly delivered on her performance, and America ultimately voted to keep her in the competition. 


“I'm so glad and proud that this version of ‘American Idol’ welcomes singer-songwriters like yourself, because it really is about storytelling and resonating and relating,” Katy Perry said after Russell’s Hawai’i performance. “I know you didn't write that song, but you sang it like you did and I believed you.” 


“I thought you pushed your vocals a lot tonight and I loved it,” the pop star continued. “I want you to keep doing it and feel confidence while doing it, because tonight's vocals were the best I've ever heard from you. You don't have to be Aretha. We love Aretha, but we need our Joni Mitchell's, we need our Patty Griffin's, we need our Emmy Russell's.” 


During the Sunday, April 14 episode in Hollywood, “Idol” host Ryan Seacrest revealed that the nation voted for Russell to advance to the top 20. To fight for her spot in the top 14, she sang an original song titled “Want You.” 


“The reason why I love ‘American Idol’ is that you can do original music,” Russell said. “I’m a songwriter. It’s in my blood. When I was about nine, I wrote my first real song. Whenever you share a song, it’s very vulnerable.” 


On the Hollywood stage, Russell donned a yellow dress with purple flowers, reminiscent of the styles her late grandmother wore. “American Idol’s” top 20 episode aired on what would have been Loretta Lynn’s 92 birthday. 


Katy Perry – who was moved to tears when Russell auditioned with her original song “Skinny” – noted that “Want You” was one of her favorite original songs from the Kingston Springs native. 


Country singer Luke Bryan said it was his favorite performance of Russell’s. “That was so you. I loved it because it was so real, and I think we could really feel the emotion in that and that’s what your artistry is about,” he said. 


Judge Lionel Richie added that her song “Want You” is “a hit record.” 


America apparently felt the same, because they voted Russell into the top 14. The singer-songwriter survived a six person cut. 


Host Ryan Seacrest delivered the news live from Hollywood during the Monday, April 15 episode. Russell remained one of the last five contestants standing 90 minutes into the episode, not knowing if her fate would be to stay or to go. 


“After the nationwide vote, Emmy, America wants you in the top 14,” Seacrest said. 


America voted Emmy Russell into the top 14 for this season of "American Idol." To celebrate, she performed her original song "skinny" barefoot. / Disney Erin McCandless

Emmy appeared on stage more stripped down from her performance than the night before – barefoot and in jeans and a t-shirt. 


"Some of the cast was saying it feels like we should strip me back and just be Emmy," she told PEOPLE magazine.


"I think that was the best thing I could have possibly done," she continued. "I was really uncomfortable in something that I wore the other night, my little white boots, and so I was like, 'Guys, I have to strip it back. I don't feel like myself.' And I feel like I sang better."


Be sure to tune in for “Idol’s” next episode, live from Hollywood, on Sunday, April 21 at 7 p.m. – when Russell will need your vote to secure her spot among the top 12 contestants!

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