By Steve Kirk, TSB Editor
Randy Jackson offered a few magic words to McKinney’s Hollie Cavanagh on Wednesday night.
The 18-year-old McKinney Boyd graduate had just finished hearing her second round of rave reviews after her second performance of the night on American Idol.
“You are peaking at the right time,” Jackson said, echoing what most Hollie Pops in McKinney and Liverpool, England must be thinking about right now. “This is perfect timing.”
This is also beautiful music to Hollie’s ears, as beautiful as her live performances of River Deep, Mountain High and Bleeding Love on Fox TV.
“You’ve been a darkhorse all season,” Jackson said, “but you’re 2-for-2 tonight. That’s unbelievable.”
It was also amazing how much support Cavanagh is receiving locally in McKinney. There was a fantastic turnout Wednesday night at MPAC as fans of Hollie gathered — including the mayor — for a watch party hosted by TSB. View our pictures and see video of the mayor below this story.
Musician and Sopranos actor Steven Van Zandt was the celebrity coach this week, helping Jimmy Iovine work with the contestants. They enjoyed working with her version of Ike and Tina Turner’s 1966 hit, River Deep, Mountain High.
“I chose this song because I think people want me to come out of my shell more,” Hollie said.
And boy, did she. She started the song in the audience with a horn section and strutted her way to the stage, where she appeared looser and more confidence than in previous shows.
“There’s a little bit of show business in you,” Van Zandt told Hollie, prior to Wednesday’s performance, “where you’re trying to please people. You’ve got to get rid of that. You’ve got to act like you don’t care what anybody thinks. You don’t care what these judges think. Screw them, what do they know? Who are they anyway?”
After her rendition of the Turners song, two of the judges — led by Steven Tyler, her most vocal critic — gave her a standing ovation. Jackson joined him. Jennifer Lopez didn’t stand, though she said she liked the song. All that remained was to see if America liked it enough to vote her through, as one of the final five contestants will be eliminated Thursday live at 7 p.m. on Fox.
“Hollie, that’s the first time I really heard you step out and use your blues,” said Tyler, complimenting her runs in the second verse. … “You just did it and showed me you’ve got it in you. Thank you, Lord. Thank you.”
“It was nice to see you surrounded by a big production and see that you could lead that,” Lopez added. … “It was a different type of Hollie out there tonight. I could feel you. I really felt like the energy was really good.”
“You guys both loved it right? I loved it, too,” Jackson said.” Listen, what they said about you not caring whether we’re here, you’ve got to do it like there’s nobody watching. That second verse, you wore it out. Very nice, very nice.”
For her second song, Hollie chose Bleeding Love by Leona Lewis.
“Keep it intimate,” Van Zandt said. “Don’t sing it to the world; just sing it to one person.”
“If you can do (on stage) what you do here,” Iovine told her, “you should stay on the show. Your voice is an instrument, Hollie, it’s a powerful instrument. It’s only about sculpting it.”
Her beautiful rendition of the song won over the judges.
“Hollie, I loved it, I loved it, I loved it,” Tyler said. “It forced you to sing the way you did when you first came in here, with that beautiful ballad voice.”
Jackson said, “I was taken back to last year, last season, when she didn’t quite make it, and I said, `This girl’s a fighter.’ “
“We have always believed in you,” Lopez said.