This season's American Idol was quite a ride for North Texas' Casey James, but it ended Wednesday night.
James was eliminated, leaving Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze to face off in next week's finale. Although James had been in the show's bottom ranks a few times, neither Bowersox nor DeWyze ever came that close to elimination.
"I'm so thankful for the opportunity," James said after host Ryan Seacrest delivered the news. "It's been an amazing, amazing journey and I'm so thankful that I'm here."
The episode featured a montage from James' homecoming visit last week when he was greeted by cheering crowds at Millsap High School, his alma mater; in the Fort Worth Stockyards; at Fort Worth's Keys Lounge, and at an AT&T store in Grapevine. James was also shown visiting Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth, where he talked to medical staff who treated him after a motorcycle crash six years ago.
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In Idol tradition, James also got to reprise a song, and he went with John Mayer's Daughters, which the judges chose for him to sing Tuesday night. It turned out to be one of his best performances of the season, with James smiling and at ease, performing without his guitar and serenading a little girl he'd plucked from the crowd.
Idol's final performance show is 7 p.m. Tuesday on KDFW/Channel 4.