It doesn't get much better than this.
A small-town guy has taken the national stage by storm, making it to a final performance in Los Angeles for the gold -- in this case, the title of "American Idol."
When the season of the granddaddy of the current set of TV talent shows launched, most folks in Southwest Georgia would have been happy if someone from our area broke into the top 10 or even the top 20.
Phillip Phillips, however, has sung and strummed his way to the final two with Jessica Sanchez, a 16-year-old singer who was saved by the judge's in an earlier stage of the competition.
For both contestants, no doubt, it has been a magical ride, one that has likely felt surreal at times, if not all the time. The journey that has been vicariously lived by their supporters is an experience of a lifetime and, quite possibly, the launching pad for careers that could make them household names for entertainment lovers for some years and decades to come.
If Phillips has ever doubted the strong support he has at home, those should have evaporated long ago, swept away by the outpouring of good wishes and the packed stadium he played to in Leesburg earlier this month. Signs are up all over metro Albany -- including at least one urging for him to make a bid for U.S. president, though he's still 14 years away from meeting the minimum age requirement for that job.
With Phillips and Sanchez set for their final three songs this evening before the final round of phone-based balloting, the pressure will be tremendous as each reaches deep for that little edge, that little extra that will inspire the judges and voters. The die will be cast long before Wednesday night's show, though that is when the results will be revealed to the public.
While we wish the best for Miss Sanchez and the best for her future, our hope is that the hometown favorite Phillips will emerge with the title Wednesday evening.
A pair of venues have been set up for tonight's performance and Wednesday's results show. This evening, the Albany recreation officials will have a voting party on the floor of the Albany Civic Center where the final performances will be shown on a 30-foot screen. On Wednesday, up to 3,000 fans will be able to attend a finale viewing party that starts at 7:30 p.m. (gates open at 6:30 p.m.) in the Lee County High School Stadium, sponsored by local Fox affiliate WFXL, the Lee Chamber of Commerce and radio station Q-102.
Regardless of how this contest wraps up, Phillips has proven to be a winner already, a young man who has stuck to his guns, performed to the best of his talent and remained, by all accounts, a regular guy living an extraordinary experience. He's a wonderful representative of his hometown and region, and we wish him the very best as he prepares for tonight and the performance of a lifetime.