On “American Idol,” Aaron Kelly, who has battled through laryngitis and tonsillitis, has been praised for his good manners and gentlemanly attitude.
And the 17-year-old high school student is also the youngest contestant.
“I always said that I was Southern-raised. … ‘Yes, sir,’ ‘yes, ma’am’ â€” that’s how my mom had taught me,” Kelley said in an interview with The Morning Call of Allentown. “I’m having a ball right now. … It’s a ton of fun and it’s a great learning experience.”
The pint-sized singer with a flair for country music was born in the Gulf Coast town of Sarasota, Fla., and lived in Florida before moving to Sonestown, in northern Pennsylvania, about five years ago.
With his appearance on “American Idol,” his new community has especially embraced him with billboards and signs everywhere saying: “Welcome to Sullivan County, home of Aaron Kelly,” “Good Luck Aaron Kelly!” and “Vote for Aaron Kelly.”
When Kelly was a toddler, he and his older brother, Curtis, survived a house fire in which both suffered burns, according to family members. After the fire, the family struggled financially. Aaron, Curtis and another brother, Joshua, were then adopted by an aunt and uncle â€” Greg Kelly, and his former wife, Kelly, who is in Los Angeles guiding Aaron through the competition. The boys were eventually raised in Sonestown, a small town about 120 miles northwest of Philadelphia.
Aaron’s father and his brother Joshua, a Marine based in San Diego, have also shown their support, cheering for the teen in the “American Idol” studio audience.
Now a high school sophomore, Kelly started singing at a family gathering when he was 6 and soon started performing at festivals and anywhere else he could. He says he loves the popular side of country, especially Rascal Flatts. In Pennsylvania, he has taken his brand of country to rural fairs.
In recent weeks, Kelly had not wowed the judges on “American Idol.” But last week, he won them back with his booming take on Shania Twain’s “You’ve Got a Way” that included changing the lyrics from “the way we make love” to “the way you show love.”
Simon Cowell said the passionate performance made Kelly seem like a “different artist” after weeks ho-hum endeavors.
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