Friday, February 17, 2006

Local Boy Does Good ;)

GRAVETTE — Excited screams of "Oh, look. There he is!" echoed on Main Street in Gravette on Wednesday night at a watch party for "American Idol" hopeful Patrick Hall. The 27-year-old singer has made the Top 24 on his way to becoming the next Idol. Party organizers Rodger Terrell, director of Gravette city services, and Chris Brandon, a longtime friend and business associate of Hall’s, hosted the party at the Gravette Towne Centre at 109 Main Street. Ironically, the building is owned by Hall. Three separate TVs were surrounded by the enthusiastic watchers. A sign near the popcorn machine declared, "Go Patrick." Soft drinks and snacks were available, and the hometown folks were clearly confident that Hall would move to the next level of competition. First to arrive at the watch party were Vicky Johnston and her 19-year-old daughter Tabitha Johnston. "We’re here to support one of our own," Vicky Johnston said. "Things like this watch party keep our hometown alive. I wanted to be here. Patrick is doing a lot by redoing a lot of the buildings in downtown Gravette. I appreciate that and I’m a big fan of his. That’s why I came to this party tonight." Brandon said he believes Hall will go a long way and could easily become the new American Idol. "He’s so gifted," Brandon explained. "Besides singing, Patrick is a wonderful pianist and songwriter. He’s just really good." Hall’s wife, Laura, agreed. "We were married last July 4 th," she said. "I have signed an agreement with the show that I won’t discuss anything about his appearances, but I can tell you that I’m very, very proud of him. This is great to have so many people cheering for him." Hall’s sister Caroline Martinez said she, of course, was proud, too. "He’s been singing since he could talk," Martinez said, smiling. "He’s a good singer, songwriter and an accomplished pianist. I’m so glad America will get to see the talent we’ve seen Patrick’s whole life." Hall’s dad, Billy Hall, M. D., shook hands with just about everyone at the watch party and accepted all the good wishes on behalf of his son. Janell Hendren Edwards is another of Hall’s friends. Also a singer, she and Hall have often entertained audiences together. "We’ve been friends since childhood," Edwards said. "I’m a little older and Patrick was always like a little brother to me. We really began performing together at local venues in 2002. We recorded a demo in Nashville and sang together over a year and a half. I’m so proud of him and happy for him. I’ll be watching the show because I feel sure he’ll really shine." Mitchell Wilber, Hall’s junior high school principal, was in the crowd. "Oh, Patrick was just a wonderful student," Wilber said. "He received the highest honors in school and is just a good, good citizen." Carrying a gorgeous, homemade cake in front of her, Deeree Mitchell said she made it in honor of Hall. "He and my husband, Gib, have been friends forever," Mitchell said. "We called Patrick (Wednesday) morning, and told him we would be at his watch party.... I let him know I was baking him a cake." Another watch party is scheduled for Feb. 23. Twelve men and 12 women have made it to the next level of competition. Hall will compete with the remaining men during a two-hour episode Wednesday. The show begins at 7 p.m. on FOX, and the public will begin voting for their favorite performer. During the watch party Thursday, four contestants — two men and two women — will be eliminated. Only 20 will continue, vying for the title. The first live "American Idol" results will be revealed during the show at the watch party. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the show starts at 7 p.m. at the Gravette Towne Centre, 109 Main St. S. E. in downtown Gravette.

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