American Idol contestant Phillip Phillips performs as a TV cameraman works from the edge of the stage during Saturday's hometown concert at Lee County High School in Leesburg.
LOS ANGELES — The tension was high Thursday night across Southwest Georgia as Phillip Phillips fans were glued to their TV sets to see if the Leesburg singer would make the "American Idol" finale.
Ryan Seacrest initially told the audience that 16-year-old Jessica Sanchez of San Diego, Calif., would compete for the show's record deal grand prize on next weeks' finale.
Phillips and top 3 finalist Joshua Ledet of Westlake, La., stood with their arms around each other waiting to hear their fate on "American Idol."
"The last contestant going to the finals is," Seacrest paused. "Phillip Phillips!"
After four months of competition and hard work, Leesburg's newest celebrity will remain on "American Idol" and perform during the show's finale.
Phillips and Sanches will face off Tuesday with the 11th season "Idol" champion crowned on Wednesday.
Phillips has never found himself at the bottom of the voting spectrum, while Sanchez was due to be eliminated during the finals' sixth round, but the judges used their one-time-only power to rescue her from elimination.
Ledet had been one of the judges's favorite finalists, earning more than a dozen standing ovations from the panel for his renditions of such songs as James Brown's "It's a Man's Man', Man's World and Bruno Mars' "Runaway Baby."
Ledet was not able to win over enough voters. He twice had appeared as a low vote getter before Thursday's dismissal.
During the results show, which featured performances from Adam Lambert and Lisa Marie Presley, Phillip received screams of adoration from the studio audience, as he has throughout the competition.
During a recap of Wednesday night's performances, mentor Jimmy Iovine had some kind words to say about Phillips' performances, especially his show-closing rendition of Bob Seger's ballad "We've Got Tonight."
"It was certainly the best performance of the night," Iovine said. "I was genuinely knocked out. There was a depth I haven't seen from him all season."
Phillips has also garnered some celebrity support. Leesburg’s first singing superstar, country singer Luke Bryan, put his support behind Phillips in a YouTube Video.
“I’ve been watching every episode,” Bryan said in the clip. “I’m pulling for you.”
The three finalists performed together in an opening number Thursday night, but did not sing individually.
Regardless of next week's results, both finalists are assured of significant financial rewards.
Although the winner is assure of a record deal, it is not uncommon for several of the Top 5 finalists to be offered record deals. The top contestants also are paid to participate in a national tour after the "Idol" winner is chosen.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.