Almost 14 million viewers tuned in to "American Idol" Wednesday.
As Candice Glover competes as a finalist on the show, several of the St. Helena Island native's family and friends have watched her from the studio audience.
Shana Hirsch, one of Glover's professors at the Technical College of the Lowcountry, traveled to Hollywood to watch the rising star perform in the Top 6, a turn judge Randy Jackson ranked among the best in the show's history.
"I don't know there's words to describe how I feel right now," Hirsch said in an interview a few hours after that show. "I just now stopped crying."
Laquan Fields, Glover's hometown best friend, was in the audience for two of the shows, and also struggled to find the words that hit just the right note.
"Nothing compares to being there and experiencing the greatness," Fields said. "I'm actually there. I can feel the emotions and the crowd receiving it."
That live experience also includes seeing what happens when the cameras are off.
The judges have bodyguards standing behind them. Each judge interacts with the audience in different ways.
Mariah Carey spins her chair to blow kisses.
Randy Jackson waves to the audience.
Nicki Minaj is usually otherwise occupied, fixing her hair in a silver Hello Kitty mirror.
As Hirsch watched, Keith Urban ran into the audience to meet a group of girls were holding up a "Hug me Keith" sign.
Glover's mom, Carole, was a bit taken with Urban herself.
"Oh yes, he is just a good looking man," she said.
Lindsey Middleton, a Glover cousin, was in the audience for the Top 10 and Top 9 shows.
She sees something more than a young performer developing her chops on a national stage.
She sees the little girl who grew up down the street and never stopped singing. She sees the child who sang in church and got her first standing ovation at age 8 after belting out CeCe Winans' "Alabaster Box."
"When she sings at church and when she sings on stage, it's the same," Middleton said. "It's just more people are seeing it now. ... Now everyone's understanding what I've understood the whole time."
Fields also has long seen what he calls a "light" in Glover.
He's seen it grow brighter on "Idol."
Any changes are obvious and on the surface -- her hair, makeup and star-quality wardrobe.
But the small nuances of her performances -- the way she grabs the microphone, the signature hand gestures she makes while singing -- have always been there.
"She's feeling the song when she's on that stage, just like she always has," Fields says. "She's always been most comfortable when she's singing. As soon as she gets in front of the mic, she's in the zone."