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Munhall's Gabby Barrett voted into 'American Idol' top 3

| Sunday, May 13, 2018, 10:27 p.m.
Gabby Barrett
American Idol
Gabby Barrett

Battling illness along with competitive excitement this week, the singing journey on "American Idol" continues for Munhall contestant Gabby Barrett.

Consistently wowing the judges and earning unanimous praise along with standing ovations from Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan, Barrett has landed a spot as a top 3 finalist.

"American Idol" fans cast almost 20 million votes Sunday during the coast-to-coast live competition. The other two finalists are Maddie Poppe and Caleb Lee Hutchinson .

Contestants Cade Foehner and Michael J. Woodard fell short of the votes needed to continue.

Barrett performed two songs on the show — "Last Name" by Carrie Underwood and "I Have Nothing" by Whitney Houston.

"It's like Carrie Underwood reincarnated," Bryan said after Barrett owned the stage with a powerhouse performance of the song.

Barrett, 18, spent the past week in Nashville, meeting with country music superstar and "Idol" guest mentor Underwood.

Underwood rose to fame as the winner of the fourth season of "American Idol" in 2005.

Barrett couldn't contain her glee at meeting her "all-time" favorite performer, comparing it to the "Holy Grail" she said.

"Holy monkeys I was super excited to meet Carrie Underwood," Barrett exclaimed. "I started singing country music because of you," Barrett said to Underwood.

"I see a lot of myself in you," Underwood responded.

Dad Blase Barrett said the week with Underwood was incredible for his daughter.

"She got the time to talk with Carrie without the cameras. Carrie was super nice and was straightforward with her advice," Blase Barrett said. "Carrie told Gabby there is nobody in country like her and country (music industry) could use her. They talked about way more than music, personal stuff, sharing family stories and such."

During the show, the judges gave Barrett a standing ovation, and Perry said Barrett has become an internet darling.

"People are talking about you. I don't know if you've been on the internet, but you're all over it honey. Everywhere I go, it's like 'please just keep Gabby in.' Everybody is watching this girl and I think you are making an impression and carving out your own."

Richie noted that the judges were supposed to "get harder" on the contestants, but he said Barrett's performance was "just fabulous."

Barrett was hospitalized Friday for bronchitis, laryngitis and a sinus infection, according to Blase Barrett.

"She wasn't feeling well, but the show is live tonight and the show must go on," said dedicated friend and fan Kristen Brodak of Monongahela, who attended a fan viewing watch party in Pittsburgh.

"I think she's winning it all," Brodak said. "The five contestants are extremely talented, but she is more versatile in my opinion."

Barrett sent a text message to Brodak when she arrived back in California this week. She said her time with Underwood was "amazing, everything went so good," Brodak said.

Joyce Hanz is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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