Candice Glover goes back to 'American Idol' for third time with win in mind

The notion of giving up was tempting. There would be no more pain. No more heartbreak. No more lost hope.

She would return home once again and simply go on with the life she had before.

Or so she thought.

When it comes to realizing a dream, there are some people in this world who won't quit -- who can't quit -- no matter how hard they've been knocked down. St. Helena Island native Candice Glover would come to find out she is one of these people.

After being cut from season 9 of "American Idol" and returning in season 11 only to meet that same fate, Candice went back to the stage that had told her twice before she wasn't good enough.

And it's a good thing she did.

The 23-year-old -- who auditioned for the 12th season of "Idol" this past summer -- has quickly become a judges' favorite on the reality show, which began in January. In a sudden-death round Wednesday, Glover finally advanced to the Top 20 contestants. And with that, the small-town girl with a big voice now has a legitimate shot at becoming America's next "Idol."


After being cut last year, Candice had come to a realization, "This is over."

She returned home to St. Helena Island and back to her job booking excursions on Fripp Island. She returned to the singing she'd known for so long -- performing at Luther's and other bars around Beaufort, at weddings and funerals, and singing the national anthem on Thursdays at Parris Island.

"It didn't seem like (my music career) was going anywhere," Glover said. "I had a lot of time to think about what my next career move might be."

So far this season, "Idol" has repeatedly replayed the clip in which Glover was not chosen to advance last year. And it's been very hard for her family to watch.

Everytime Candice's mother, Carole, hears Steven Tyler tell her daughter, "Candice, I'm sorry, baby," she gets downright mad.

"How could you say that to Candice?" she asks the television.

After Candice returned home, there was a sadness that ran throughout her entire family. They didn't think Candice should try for another season.

"She was so hurt, and we were hurt," Carole said. "We were saying, 'No, we're not going back anymore.'"

Candice's father, John, didn't want to see his daughter go through that again -- the rejection, the hurt.

As Candice watched the rest of season 11 from her home, she said she wasn't bitter or jealous. She dutifully texted in her votes every week.

But she kept telling herself: "I belong there."

And as Candice watched the contestants she'd come to regard as friends advance to the top 12, the top 3, the finale, she knew her "American Idol" journey wasn't over.

Something inside of her kept saying, "That could be you next year."

So she told her family she was going back one more time.


Candice returned to "American Idol" with the same talent and ability, but she felt more confident, more complete.

The judges saw it.

After Candice's performance of "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" on Wednesday, "Idol" judge Nicki Minaj was impressed. "It just boggles my brain that you didn't make it past Vegas. Because clearly, you have one of the strongest voices in the competition."

Of the four judges, Randy Jackson is the only one returning from previous seasons.

"Last year was such a different time, and I think you've grown since then," he said to Candice. "You now believe you belong here."

Her family agrees.

"When she went home last year, something happened" Carole said. "She just had a transformation."

Most importantly, over the past year Candice went on a journey of self-discovery. She began listening to music from different genres, learning different things from each.

"I now know who I am as an artist, as a person. I'm more confident," Candice said. "I made sure when I went back, I wouldn't give them a reason to cut me."


In 2009, Candice, her parents and her six siblings gathered around the TV in their living room to watch her audition air.

In 2011, they again gathered around the TV.

Both times they were disappointed to find that Candice's auditions were not chosen to air. Only the most entertaining and memorable auditions make into the hour-long episode, and they were hurt that Candice had been left out.

Candice didn't know if she'd be included this year, but when word spread that she was on the commercial for an upcoming episode in January, her parents rushed to the television, flipping from commercial break to commercial break to catch sight of their daughter.

Candice was home with her family when her audition aired.

"When they showed her, we screamed out in the house," Carole said.

They rewound the show on the DVR and rewatched Candice's audition in which she had sang "Syrup and Honey," by Duffy.

"I don't think we can count how many times we watched it," her father said.

The Glover family would get out of bed late at night just to rewatch it and then play it again in the morning before work and school.

Candice had received a standing ovation from the judges during her audition. They called it the best they'd seen yet. Mariah Carey even asked her for a mixed tape.

"It was redemption," Candice said. "It was confirmation that this is actually where I'm supposed to be."


Candice's first performance was at age 4 when she sang "Victory is Mine," at Oaks True Holiness Church on St. Helena Island. At age 8, she had her first big solo, singing "Alabaster Box," by CeCe Winans. This is when she received her first standing ovation.

Her six younger siblings -- Jonathan, Shaquoya, Bethany, David, Carlos and Careme -- describe her as playful, loving and funny, the older sister who takes care of them.

"She let's you know she's the oldest," her mother said.

Candice likes watching "Sponge Bob" and doing impressions. She's the one her siblings turn to when they are looking for a reason to smile.

Her cousin Lindsey doubles as her best friend. She doesn't have a boyfriend.

"She don't have one, 'cause I don't play that," said her brother Jonathan, a senior at Beaufort High School.

Candice has never taken singing lessons. She always looks to her parents and siblings for advice on song choices and she practices for them.

She said she looks up to Carrie Underwood, who came from the small Oklahoma town of Checotah to win "American Idol" in 2005.

"The fact that she basically did the same thing that I'm doing," Candice said. "I tell people, don't let where you come from determine where you go.

"Living on St. Helena Island, there's no musical opportunity. I felt like I was kind of trapped here and 'American Idol' was my way out."


It is five minutes until the shows starts, and Carole calls everyone into the living room. They gather around the TV, and as Ryan Seacrest comes on screen, the room grows quiet.

The room cheers, hoots and hollers as Candice performs, "Natural Woman."

Carole is the household receptionist, juggling the landline and her cellphone, receiving calls from family and friends during the show. They are Candice's biggest fans.

They watch the other contestants perform, but rewatch Candice's performance during commercial breaks. John is the pilot of the DVR.

"You see how she looks? My God! She looks like a star!" Carole gushes on the phone.

"I'm so proud to know her, even though she's my daughter," Carole said. "It just makes you feel so wonderful. You can't believe that's your baby."

Candice, who is currently in Las Vegas while the show films, has been raised. She is a grown adult now, and her parents hope she carries the lessons they taught with her.

But just in case she forgets as she continues to pursue her music career, they'll always remind her: Don't get a big head. Stay humble. Trust God. Know how to treat people. Be kind. Smile.

"My biggest fear is that she's so far away I can't protect her," John said. "I worry about when she goes out and I'm not there."

John doesn't say much, but nods along and taps his foot as he watches Candice's performance for the fourth time that night. His eyes don't come off the TV, his brow furrowed John is beaming.

At the end of the show, the judges tell each contestant whether they are going home or not. When they announce Candice has advanced to the top 20, the room erupts.

After the chaos has settled, they rewind the DVR and Candice's performance begins again.

"We're just going to watch it over and over until she comes back on," cousin Lindsey said.


Candice Glover performs 'Natural Woman'

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