Friends and family of “American Idol” hopeful Lee Jean Jr. gathered at a local bar and grill Wednesday night to watch the Bluffton teen perform on the reality TV show.
Jean, 16, wasn’t present. He was in Los Angeles of course, but his mother, Veronica Jean, and father, Lee Jean Sr., were at Zeppelins along with a crowd of about 25 to 30 people.
“This is amazing,” said Veronica Jean, who had just flown back to Bluffton from Los Angeles a few days earlier.
The couple said while they wish they could be with their son who has been in California taping episodes of the show, they were in constant contact and had been texting throughout the party Wednesday night.
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The family has made several trips to Los Angeles since Jean first began competing on the show in January and have plans to return soon.
Last week, the first half of the “Top 24” semi-finalists performed over a two-night period and ended with five contenders eliminated. Wednesday night, Jean’s group were to perform solos.
As people munched on ribs and sipped sodas, the crowd waited for their favorite contender to appear on a big screen set up in the eatery’s main room.
Then, finally, the moment of truth.
“There he is,” some students from Bluffton High School shouted.
The room quieted as Jean took the stage and began singing “Runaway” by Ed Sheeran. While some faulty audios made it difficult to hear, it was clear by the look on Jean’s face the teen was having fun.
After his performance, Sherie Sturgis, Jean’s drama teacher, said she thought her student did very well.
Asked how she thought Jean would do in the competition overall, Sturgis said it was important to know that she was biased.
“But he’s going all the way,” Sturgis said smiling. “They ain’t seen nothing yet.”
“American Idol” is scheduled to run through April 7.