LEESBURG, Ga. — Phillip Phillips is coming home.
Don't worry Southwest Georgia voters, the bluesy 21-year-old "American Idol" finalist who calls Leesburg home did not get his walking paper from the popular Fox TV show Thursday night. Instead, he was announced as one of three finalists on TV's most popular show and will come home Saturday to be honored on Phillip Phillips Day.
Phillips; 20-year-old gospel singer Joshua Ledet of Westlake, La.; and 16-year-old pop singer Jessica Sanchez of San Diego were named as finalists of the fan-voted competition Thursday night, while18-year-old Hollie Cavanagh of McKinney, Texas, was eliminated as the show's low vote-getter.
"Idol" host Ryan Seacrest said during the telecast that 70 million viewer votes were cast this week.
"This is a real journey," "Idol" judge Jennifer Lopez said during Thursday's telecast. "This is not an easy show for these kids. That's why I feel so much when I'm watching you."
Phillips, who supplements his singing income by working at his family's pawn shop in Leesburg, has caught the attention of "American Idol" voters with his Dave Matthews-like vocals and his devil-may-care personality. Judge Stephen Tyler, who is the singer for rock supergroup Aerosmith, alluded to Phillips' refusal to conform on the air Thursday.
The Lee County Commission and The Leesburg City Council have adopted proclamations praising Phillips and officially making Saturday Phillip Phillips Day in the county and city. Leesburg Mayor Jim Quinn and Commission Chairman Ed Duffy are expected to present copies of the city and county proclamations to Phillips before a parade in the singer's honor, which will start at 2:30 p.m. House District 152 Rep. Ed Rynders is expected to make a similar presentation on behalf of Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal.
The short parade will proceed from Starkesville Avenue in Leesburg, travel down Main Street and end at the Lee County High School football stadium. There, Phillips will perform a short concert for what is expected to be a large audience.
"People are calling from all over the state saying they plan to come (to the celebration)," Leesburg City Councilwoman Judy Powell said at a special called council meeting Thursday.
All three of the "Idol" finalists will make appearances in their hometowns before returning to the show next week. Fox is expected to record footage at events for all three that will be used on the show.
— The Associated Press Contributed to this article.