Bradenton's Woolf lives to sing again on 'Idol'

Braden River High teen impresses enough to be one of 11 'Idol' finalists

mclear@bradenton.comMarch 7, 2014 

Sam Woolf performs during the auditions for "American Idol" in Boston. FOX

Keith Urban was right.

On Wednesday night's episode of "American Idol," Urban predicted Bradenton singer/songwriter Sam Woolf would be back next week.

In fact, Urban said he would "guarantee" it.

It didn't take long on Thursday night's show for Woolf and his fans to find out he was safe from elimination. He was the first to get the news from host Ryan Seacrest the voting public had decided he would move on for at least one more round.

Just minutes into Thursday's show, Seacrest summoned Woolf and three other contestants to the stage.

He quickly gave the news Emily Piriz of Orlando -- the only other remaining Florida contestant -- was in the bottom three this week, and Woolf was safe.

That means Woolf, a 17-year-old senior at Braden River High School, is one of 11 finalists remaining from the 75,000 singers who auditioned for this season's "Idol."

Woolf performed live Wednesday offering a county-tinged version of "Just One" by Oregon alt-folk band Blind Pilot.

As they have through much of the season, the three judges -- Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr. -- praised Woolf's singing but said they were hoping to see more emotionally dynamic performances. So far, Woolf has performed almost exclusively slower, introspective songs, including one original.

After performances by former "American Idol" champ Phillip Phillips and Irish band Kodaline, Seacrest announced Piriz received the fewest votes this week. She got one last chance to sing for the judges, who could have used their one chance to overrule the public vote.

They didn't so Piriz goes home.

She was the second Floridan eliminated in two weeks. Last week, Kristen O'Connor of Sebastian went home. Woolf is the last surviving Floridian.

Next Wednesday, Woolf will again perform live in a show with a "Songs from the Cinema" theme.

Marty Clear, Bradenton entertainment reporter, can be reached at

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