There are several ways St. Helena Island native Candice Glover knows she's home: her grandmother's mac and cheese, the slow traffic along U.S. 21, and the presence of her younger siblings, parents and extended family, whom she holds dear to her heart.
Now there's two more: markers on either end U.S. 21 of St. Helena Island that acknowledge her rise to fame. The green street signs, which Glover unveiled after a dedication Wednesday, read "St. Helena Island Home of the 2013 American Idol Winner Candice Glover."
"I'm a small-island girl, so coming back home is like heaven," Glover said at the dedication, an invite-only event at the Penn Center that included her parents, her five younger siblings, several local officials and a crowd of about 100.
At the event, S.C. Rep. Shannon Erickson welcomed Glover home and shared some biographical facts and trivia about the season 12 "American Idol" winner with the crowd before attendees got the chance to ask their own questions.
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When Glover was a student at St. Helena Island Elementary School, Erickson said, she won trophies in a reading program. Her favorite food is her grandmother Albertha Middleton's mac and cheese. She's the oldest of six children.
"Have you ever lost 'American Idol'?" a boy asked.
"I lost twice," Glover said of the two seasons when she was cut in the early rounds of "Idol."
"But I kept going back, so I didn't lose," she said.
"What number were you?" another boy asked.
"Well, on the show I was No. 1," Glover said with a laugh; the crowd laughed too.
Erickson, S.C. Sen. Tom Davis, Rep. Kenneth Hodges and Wendell Mulligan with S.C. Department of Transportation presented the two signs to Glover. No state money was used for the signs; they were paid for with donations, Erickson said.
Glover said she's been home for about six weeks, but has kept a low profile. She is preparing to return to Los Angeles to continue recording her album, "Music Speaks." The album was expected to be released this month, but is now slated for February.
Her mother, Carole Glover, also spoke to the crowd. Her opening call of "Praise the Lord" was met with a shout of "Hallelujah!"
"It's just amazing how the community came together," Carole said of the local support for Candice while she competed on "Idol."
"You did it. We didn't see any color, and that's what I love. We were one. And that's what God wants," she said.
Candice signed autographs and took pictures with the nine children in the crowd.
"I'm better at signing (now)," she said. "But thank you to everyone. ... All the kids in the audience, I just want to encourage you to not let anyone tell you you can't do something."
Follow reporter Laura Oberle at twitter.com/IPBG_Laura.
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