A country boy from southern Livingston Parish, Laine Hardy left home six weeks ago in hopes of becoming the next "American Idol."

On Tuesday, he'll be greeted by thousands of Louisiana fans as he gears up for the season finale Sunday night. 

The main hometown event will be a parade and free concert in the town of Livingston on Tuesday evening that are open to the public.

"It feels unbelievable. It's so crazy," 18-year-old Hardy told The Advocate in an interview Monday. "There’s going to be so many people."

Hardy, a 2018 graduate of French Settlement High School, advanced to the show's finale last Sunday, singing the Marshall Tucker Band classic "Can't You See," Elton John's  "Something About the Way You Look Tonight" and The Beatles' classic "Hey Jude." 

“Before my first performance, I was so nervous because I had to do three songs," Hardy told WBRZ-TV shortly after he landed in Louisiana Monday afternoon. "After the first performance, my stress went away a little bit. My adrenaline was pumping, and I got through it, and I'm in the top three."

Hardy said he's excited to be home in Louisiana and is looking forward to hugging his family and friends. He credits much of his success on the show to the support he's received from his home state.

"If I wouldn't have had all this support from Louisiana, I wouldn't …" he said, voice trailing off. "It's all them."

Hardy will begin his Tuesday homecoming activities by meeting Gov. John Bel Edwards at the Governor's Mansion. 

Afterwards, he'll head out to Livingston Parish for a visit to French Settlement High School. School officials have been planning a pep rally for students and faculty, featuring songs, cheers and skits. The event is closed to the public because of space limitations.

He will also meet during the day for private events with friends, family and local officials, including Livingston Parish Sheriff Jason Ard and Parish President Layton Ricks. 

Finally, Hardy will arrive in the Town of Livingston for a parade from the post office at 29728 S. Frost Road to the Livingston Parish Fairgrounds at 19869 Fairgrounds Road off U.S. 190. The parade is scheduled to begin at 5:15 p.m.

051419 Laine Hardy parade

A free concert headlined by Hardy will follow immediately afterward and is expected to begin at 6:30 p.m.

Attendees are asked to park at the fairgrounds. The fairground gates open at 3 p.m., and deputies will be on hand to direct parking, according to the Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office.

Hardy has been a consistent hit with the judges and the fans since returning to the show this season.

"You have that look, you have that style, you have that sound, and you know what that's called, that's called a winner in my book, OK?," judge Lionel Richie told him Sunday night.

Hardy competed on the ABC reboot of the reality singing competition series last season, but was eliminated at the end of the first round in Hollywood. He accompanied friend Ashton Gill on guitar for her audition this season, and ended up auditioning himself.

He will join Alejandro Aranda, Pomona, California; and Madison VanDenburg, Cohoes, New York, in the Sunday finale during which one of them will be named the winner.

Follow www.theadvocate.com for updates throughout the day on Laine's return to Louisiana"

Advocate staff writer Judy Bergeron contributed to this report.


Follow Caroline Grueskin on Twitter, @cgrueskin.