New Orleans singer Faith Becnel finally made it to the big stage on Monday night.
A finalist on last season's "American Idol," the 21-year-old Destrehan native was robbed of the opportunity to perform in Los Angeles due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The contestants instead competed remotely from home.
This season, ABC singing competition series "Idol" invited 10 of last year's top 20 singers to "The Comeback" episode, where each sang for the chance to become the final member of this season's top 10. Voting will close at 5 a.m. Monday.
"The love has been UNREAL," Becnel posted on Facebook Tuesday.
For her performance of the Janis Joplin hit "Cry Baby," Becnel sparkled from head to toe in a one-sleeved emerald green jumpsuit with silver accessories, her long, straight, brunette locks draped over her opposite shoulder.
Vocally, the soulful Becnel gave it her all.
"Little Miss Louisiana, we've just always been a big fan of just that whole thing you've got goin' on," judge Luke Bryan told Becnel after her performance. "Great song choice, in my opinion, for you. I loved the performance. It was great."
During his critique, judge Lionel Richie took a moment to talk to all the returning "Idol" contestants.
"I want to say this to you and all the alumni coming back in — to make it to this point, you've already won. You have certain wonderful characteristics … and just because it's not No. 1 or No. 3 or No. 8 or No. 10, that means nothing," he said. "The fact that you came back to grace us, with being one of our favorites, is the best thing that ever happened. Welcome back to this wonderful stage."
Judge Katy Perry addressed Becnel's singing style, last year generously seasoned with vibrato (an expressive, pulsating change in pitch).
"Faith, I think one of the biggest notes from last season was to figure out a real balance with your voice. That instant, identifiable vibrato was sometimes too saucy," Perry said. "It was like too much salt in the food. You couldn't even taste the other 'flavas.' I think what you showed us tonight was balance. I think you actually took that note from Season 3 and you put a little iron on some of those notes and I appreciated it. You worked."
The contestants' musical mentor, Bobby Bones, added, "She is authentic. We know exactly who you are when you start singing. … I had my hand up like Mount Pine Baptist Church when I was a kid. I was just feelin' it like when you were singing it. It was just right in here (pointing to his heart)."
Back in Louisiana, support for Becnel grew over the weekend, with The Cookie Experience in Norco cranking out star-shaped "Vote Faith" cookies, the "Gotta Have Faith" T-shirts re-emerging along with a new "Keeping the Faith" version, and Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser officially urging residents to vote for the singer.
To vote for Becnel, text C5 (her contestant number) to 21523, or vote on the "American Idol" website or app. There's a limit of 10 votes per person, per method, for a total of 30 votes.