The tears flowed freely when "American Idol" aired the footage of Candice Glover's hometown visit on the show Wednesday -- and again when she received overwhelming praise from the judges: an "in it to win it," and a "another best performance ever on this show."
Glover was emotional throughout much of the hometown segment. The four judges were choked up, and many attendees at the watch party at Highway 21 Drive In in Beaufort had to dab at their eyes as they watched.
The St. Helena Island native could barely speak through the sobs after her performance of the judges' song choice of the night, Emile Sande's "Next To Me," for which they had only positive feedback.
What stuck out more to them than her "stellar vocals," though, was her experience coming home to Beaufort County.
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"That video was so emotional and so hard for me to watch. I could not even watch that screen," judge Nicki Minaj said, her voice cracking. "You have come out swinging in this competition. I have to tell you that I am so proud of you."
Judge Randy Jackson agreed.
"When we watch that video ... we all got lifted with you because we all know what the struggle is like to try and get out of somewhere and to come to a big stage like this," he said. "This is one of the greatest things about 'American Idol,' that you can come from anything, you can come from absolutely nothing, and be somebody with your talent."
Judge Mariah Carey noticed a new spirit in Glover.
"I feel like you were just rejuvenated by being there and seeing so much real love and passion for you as a person, as an artist," Carey said. "Keep that with you."
Fans near and far came out to support Glover this past weekend during her hometown visit, and they were out again Wednesday night at the drive-in watch party for the Top 3 show.
Becky Wallace and her husband, Ken Rayburn, traveled to the event from Augusta, Ga., in celebration of her 68th birthday.
"(My husband's) been asking me all week what he can do," Wallace said.
Her wishes: to drive to Beaufort, stay the night and see Candice perform on the big screen.
A longtime "American Idol" fan, Wallace and her husband traveled the back roads from their home in Georgia to Beaufort on Wednesday morning, where they were joined by hundreds of other fans at the theater.
Wallace said her fandom is torn between Glover and contestant Angie Miller because Miller resembles her granddaughter.
"And they both just know how to sing," Wallace said.
For Glover's first song, show mentor Jimmy Iovine chose U2 and Mary J. Blige's "One."
At the end of Glover's three performances, patrons at the drive-in honked their horns and flashed their lights as they cheered, and again in approval of the judges' comments.
"You are on your way, you are a diva, you did that justice," Minaj said. "That didn't feel like 'American Idol.' That felt like I was at your show. Work it."
While judge Jackson said it wasn't vocally perfect, he said he felt an emotional connection to Glover's performance.
"(That song) gives you room to grow and soar and sing like you naturally do," Jackson said. "What was perfect is the emotion was so on-point. ... We all got lifted up here."
Carey was confused at how Glover, who was an excursions coordinator at Fripp Island before "Idol," could have ever worked another job.
"You always bring so much to the table as a singer that I'm like, really? She was booking tickets? I'm so confused," she said. "We really felt it."
Judge Keith Urban echoed Carey, saying, "You start singing and there's just so much power in the quiet of who you are and what you do."
For Glover's final performance of the night, which was the producers' choice, she sang Barbra Streisand's "Somewhere," which Jackson called one of the best performances on the show ever.
She finds out if she made it into the "Idol" final during the results show Thursday, which airs from 8 to 9 p.m. on Fox.
"How do you do that? What is that?" Urban said in astonishment. "If you want to vote for Candice, dial the number on your screen. If you don't want to vote for Candice, call your doctor, you probably don't have a pulse."
"Four words," Minaj said. "See you next week."