There are only 10 male contestants left on this years edition of American Idol, and Sam Woolf of Bradenton is one of them.
On Wednesday, the 17-year old singer-songwriter made it through yet another round of cuts to reach the Top 20.
Thirty contestants 15 males and 15 females started the week still alive on Idol.
On Tuesday, judges Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr. eliminated five women.
On Wednesday, they repeated the process, knocking five males out of the competition.
The judges decided on their 10 cuts before the show started, but maintained suspense by calling the survivors on stage one at a time to perform live, with a dwindling pool of contestants awaiting their fates backstage.
About 40 minutes into Wednesdays show, Urban began introducing Woolf.
We dont always agree, but this guy came out and we all agreed, Urban said. Woolf didnt do so good in the group round, Urban said, but he impressed the judges again last week by performing an original song.
I think hes going to be in this competition for a long time, Urban said.
Before Woolf came onstage, the TV audience saw footage of him working with coaches, including former Idol judge Randy Jackson, who told him not to look at the floor when he sang. Woolf said hed go back to his room and watch videos of some of his favorite performers.
Then he came onstage and wowed the judges with a version of David Grays Babylon while looking noticeably more self-assured than in earlier performances.
The people love you, Sam, and with good reason, Urban said after the performance.
Lopez was even more effusive in her praise.
You have such a great quality to you, she said, and its no surprise that everyone has already fallen in love with you.
Connick was the only judge who tempered his praise with some advice.
I hope that you can gain some small layers of confidence as this competition goes on, Connick said.
But Connick also made it clear that hes an unabashed Sam Woolf fan.
Woolf doesnt have much time before he faces his next hurdle. Judges will eliminate another seven Idol contestants on the show airing from 8-10 p.m. Thursday on Fox leaving only 13 still in contention. Viewers pick 10 contestants through call-in and online voting and judges will pick the remaining three.
Marty Clear, entertainment reporter, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.