Beaufort throws its support behind 'American Idol' contestant Candice Glover

loberle@islandpacket.comMarch 30, 2013 

Candice Glover is beginning to experience the life of a celebrity.

When she goes out in public with the other "American Idol" contestants -- to Target, restaurants, the mall -- she sees people pointing and whispering, shy to approach them.

While shopping at Forever 21 in California, a young girl ran up behind Glover, snapped a picture as soon as Glover turned around and then ran back to her mother saying, "I got it! I got it!"

"I guess real celebrities get tired of that, but it's actually kind of cool," Candice said Tuesday in a phone interview.

The public is responding as music industry heavyweights continue to praise the St. Helena Island native for her "Idol" performances.

She has judge Randy Jackson telling her week after week that she is the best singer on the show. Mariah Carey says she has a voice that can go places no one else can. Multi-Grammy-winning singer and actress Bette Midler noted Glover's "beautiful rendition" of Ben E. King's "I Who Have Nothing" in the Top 10 episode of "Idol," the same performance that moved Smokey Robinson to tears.

And Drake started following her on Twitter.

But while her celebrity status is quickly growing, Glover said the newfound fame hasn't hit her quite yet.

"I sometimes forget I'm on the show, so I'm like, 'Why are you acting like that? I'm just a normal person,'" Glover said.

Back in Beaufort, her family is experiencing similar encounters as well.

At the doctor's office, a woman asked Glover's mother, Carole, whether Candice was her daughter. She then asked whether she could shake Carole's hand.

"Everywhere we go people are telling us they're watching Candice," Carole Glover said. "I tell you, this is the talk of the town."

HOMETOWN SUPPORT

Fliers in the windows on Bay Street inform passersby, "My Idol Is Candice Glover." A banner hangs from Glover's high school saying, "Congratulations to Beaufort High's Own Candice Glover." One Beaufort restaurant even named a drink after the "Idol" finalist.

On March 15, hundreds rallied at Beaufort's Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park to show the "American Idol" crew that was in town how much they support Glover. Tamecka Petty, owner of Crave CupCake Boutique in Beaufort, made cupcakes with a picture of Glover on it and passed them out to rally attendees to say thank you for supporting her hometown hero.

"I'm really proud of how the small businesses in Beaufort have rallied to show support for Candice," Petty said. "We'd do anything we can to support her and her family."

The Irish Rose Pub and Bistro in Beaufort has a special peppermint flavored martini in Glover's honor -- the Candycane -- and hosts "Idol" watch parties every Wednesday and Thursday. Customers receive 15 percent off their bill by voting for Glover.

"It's supporting your neighbor and helping out each other," owner Cjira Presland said.

As the mayor of Beaufort, Billy Keyserling said he is a cheerleader for Candice, rallying the town to support and vote for her. He himself is a "Candicane," the nickname of Glover's fans.

In a newsletter March 20, Keyserling asked Beaufort to "please 'pretty please'" join him in voting for Glover.

"She's putting Beaufort on the map," Keyserling said. "When they tape a gathering of a bunch of us who are her supporters at the waterfront park, they're shooting our waterfront park, and they're shooting our river, our downtown. They go to Beaufort High School, they're looking at a beautiful school with a bunch of beautiful kids."

Keyserling teaches a class at University of South Carolina-Beaufort on civic and community engagement. Glover now is part of the lesson plan.

The 12 students had a unique assignment: Vote for Glover on "Idol," and get others in the community to do so as well.

"The message was: Take a few minutes, and give something to your community by promoting it," Keyserling said.

Keyserling also sees Glover giving Beaufort more than just a national spotlight.

"Not unlike Joe Frazier, who was the world champion heavyweight fighter, not unlike Robert Smalls, who was a great Civil War hero, she is an individual who is part of the biology of this community -- she grew up here, was educated here, her family's here -- who's excelling at something," Keyserling said. "That is a gift to us.

"It's an opportunity for young people who see one of their own who's among the stars."

HOMETOWN HERO

Before "Idol," Beaufort County seemed smaller to Glover than it does now. The response she's received so far -- the fan clubs, the handwritten letters, the supportive posts on social media -- comes in a size much too large for the small town she remembers.

"I honestly didn't even know that St. Helena and Beaufort were that big," Glover said. "The response that I get from (back home) is really, really overwhelming."

She follows along with what's happening back home on Twitter and Facebook. After looking through pictures and posts from the rally, she tweeted, "Such a beautiful town. Thank you so much guys. Y'all gotta stop making me cry."

"I heard that when 'Idol' visited the hometowns, mine was more like a hometown hero," Glover said. "I can only imagine what it's going to be like when I come home."

Follow reporter Laura Oberle at twitter.com/IPBG_Laura.

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