Clay Aiken, an "American Idol" finalist who is also a top pop artist, has begun to watch the FOX singing contest series again due to contestant Victoria Huggins, a teenage Christian music singer from North Carolina that he met years ago.
Huggins appeared on the season 10 premiere, which aired on Wednesday. She auditioned in New Jersey and sang "Midnight Train to Georgia" before judges Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson.
The two met more than a decade ago when they competed in a gospel music talent show, USA Today reported, quoting Aiken, 32, as saying: "I tuned in for the first time in years, because a girl that I've known for years was on the show."
"If I continue to watch this, if I actually commit to watching an entire episode, I'll get caught up in it," said Aiken, who placed second and lost to winner Ruben Studdard on the second season of "American Idol" in 2003. "I'm a little worried that she's on it. She made it to Hollywood, and I thought, 'Oh, crap! Now I have to watch again, and if she gets on it, I'm going to get tied up in it and my palms are going to get sweaty every Thursday night on elimination night!'"
Huggins is 17 years old and is known as Christian music singer who has appeared on the talent series "Star Search." She performed at a Christmas show at the Alabama Theatre in Myrtle Beach, S.C. for 10 years and appeared on boxes of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. The home-schooled high school student competed in the advanced Hollywood audition rounds of the competition, which will air in February.
"We are overwhelmed with the community support from the surrounding area," her mother, Beverly Huggins, told the Fayetteville Observer newspaper in Fayetteville, N.C. "We're very thankful. You're a needle in a haystack. To get that much air time ? You never know what to expect."
"American Idol" Executive producer Nigel Lythgoe told OnTheRedCarpet.com earlier this week that the final 40 contestants have already been picked. The top 20 are set to be announced toward the end of February.