Copious Notes

Kentuckian Layla Spring has big ‘Idol’ moment, but eliminated from competition

Lebanon teen Layla Spring (center) performed with Sugarland, Kristian Bush (left) and Jennifer Nettles (right), on the April 9 duets episode of “American Idol.”
Lebanon teen Layla Spring (center) performed with Sugarland, Kristian Bush (left) and Jennifer Nettles (right), on the April 9 duets episode of “American Idol.” ABC

Lebanon 16-year-old Layla Spring took the stage with Sugarland in Monday night’s episode of “American Idol” and performed like she belonged in the middle of the hit-making duo.

But the judges ultimately decided she wouldn’t be in the final 14 of the revived singing competition. Spring was in a group of 12 singers that performed solos Sunday night and then duets with established stars Monday. At the end of Monday’s episode, seven singers were selected to continue in the competition, and Spring was not one of them.

The key blow to Spring’s chances seemed to be when the judges picked the other female country singer in the field, Pittsburgh 18-year-old Gabby Barrett, about half way through the selection. Also advancing were Cade Foehner, Michelle Sussett, Dennis Lorenzo, Jonny Brenns, Michael J. Woodard, and Catie Turner.

Spring’s elimination was a bit of a surprise, as she earned nothing but effusive compliments in the portions of the judging that were shown on TV.

“You don’t even begin to understand how hard it is to go toe-to-toe with Jennifer Nettles,” judge and country star Luke Bryan said, referring to the Sugarland singer, after the performance.

Pop music icon and judge Lionel Richie said, “You handled yourself as if you’d been there forever.”

While she exhibited on-stage poise, Spring was all fangirl meeting Nettles and Kristian Bush and earned high marks from the duo, with Nettles saying, “She’s a young kid with control of her instrument.”

Spring has given the “Idol” audience heaping helpings of Kentucky this season, with her rich accent and talking about things like working at the Cozy Corner restaurant in Loretto, where her mother and grandmother also work.

On Sunday night’s episode, she joked with country music icon Bobby Bones, “What’s the difference between a fiddle and a violin?” Answer: “One has strings and the other has ‘straaaaangs.’”

When Bones put her on a video chat with 2011 “Idol” runner up Lauren Alaina, Spring declared, “I’m from Kentucky,” and the Georgia native replied, “Yes, you are.” Alaina, who also competed as a teen, told Spring, “This show will change your life, but you have to continue on that momentum.”

After her performance of Martina McBride’s “A Broken Wing” Sunday night, the judges heaped praise on Spring for taking their advice and putting it to work.

“I’m so impressed with the way you’ve applied yourself, the way you’ve listened,” Katy Perry said. “If anything, you’ve grown leaps and bounds since we first met you.”

Now, the next steps of Spring’s growth will be back in Marion County.

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Amelia Hammer Harris, who spent part of her childhood in Lexington, will compete in the solo and duets episodes of “American Idol” April 15 and 16. Eric McCandless ABC

Kentucky fans still have one singer left to pull for: Amelia Hammer Harris, who spent part of her childhood in Lexington and whose family still lives here. She will compete on next week’s episodes at 8 p.m. April 15 and 16, paired with Bebe Rexha for the duets episode, on ABC, WTVQ-TV 36 (Spectrum Ch. 10) in Lexington. Again, seven singers will be selected to continue and five will be sent home. That will complete the Final 14, who will go on to live competition voted on by viewers.

Rich Copley, @copiousnotes

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