"Ya know, I didn’t just wake up with this accent, I kinda was born with it so anything I sing I’m probably gonna have that little southern t-w-a-n-g but us I’m just gonna be real and consistent and bring everything to the table."Shannon asked Kellie how it felt to be in the final 12. We’d first met the Albermarle roller-waitress back in August, when she rendered the judges smitten with her voice, looks and charm. A hard-luck back-story didn’t hurt either, of course. But her endearing spirit and drop-dead appearance - as much as her pipes - that got her to the red carpet.
"Look at this, I gotta touch it to make sure it’s real" Kellie dropped to the carpet and flattened her palm. Popping back up, she twinkled into my lens. "It’s real… I’m here."Like the rest of the contestants to follow, Kellie was pumped, grateful and focused. While still the down-home sweetheart I watched pace around a conference room of the Greensboro Marriot, she spoke with a conviction I hadn’t heard her use before. Even if she was nervous as hell each time she took the American Idol stage.
"I say a little prayer, take deep breaths and just try to give it my all. I’m goin’ from the shower to singing for millions of people, its incredible."With a leading spot in the Final 12, the pressure is on for little Miss Pickler. She must conquer a soundstage, connect with a much larger studio audience and suffer the woes of high minded stylists. Luckily GrandDaddy Clyde, the man who was always there in her jailed father’s absence, is flying in to Cali to lend her a hand. It’s hard to imagine the kindly old man I visited with in Rockingham traversing the pitfalls of Hollyweird, but I get the feeling his beloved Kellie is gonna hook a Grandpa up.
"It’ll be his first time in L.A.”, she giggled. "I’m gonna get him to try that cala-mauri."