Salisbury resident Jay Copeland didn’t make it into American Idol’s Top 5 the evening of Sunday, May 8, but that didn’t dampen the loyalty of dedicated fans who continued to praise the 23-year-old’s talent and commented, on Facebook, that he will always be loved and surely will have a successful career.
Last week, when he was named to the Top 7, judge Lionel Richie said something similar, telling Copeland, “What you’ve done tonight has kind of solidified that you have a career, automatically.”
“Forget numbers. Don’t worry about how far you will go in this competition, but in the music business,” Richie said to raucous applause as Copeland thanked him.
On this past Sunday’s show, Copeland sang Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing,” dressed in a silver suit, white T-shirt and white athletic shoes.
Afterward, judge Katy Perry complimented his appearance, using the slang ‘fit” for “outfit” and saying about his ability, “The runs were so unique and so artistic this time. You weren’t just a singer, you were a signer and you were doing it. You did justice to a Whitney Houston song.”
Later, in a video, Copeland was with his mother, Ronisha Ryder, sitting on a blanket having a picnic. He praised her as a “hard working woman who raised me single-handedly.”
“That’s not easy. Everything she taught me will always be here and here and I will never forget that,” he said, touching his head and heart.
For his mother, and in honor of Mother’s Day on May 8, he chose the Boys II Men tribute “A Song for Mama” to illustrate “how much I appreciate you and how much I love you.”
“You’re going to make me cry,” she said and he replied, “Don’t cry.”
Ryder called his song selection heartwarming and said she was proud of him.
“I love her very much, you know, and I hope this song not only touches her but I hope it touches every mom who is out there and shows them they are loved and they are respected,” Copeland said as photographs of him as a boy, with his mother, flashed on the screen.
He then sang the song, released in 1997, wearing a blue blazer with floral design and white lapels, white T-shirt and white slacks, prompting Richie to joke, “If you go into my closet one more time … .”
“We’re so proud of you, Jay,” Perry said.
“Since you sang ‘Lilac Wine’ to me it’s just been all the way up. You have found exactly who you are and you’re never going to go back. Instant identity,” she said.
A smiling judge Luke Bryan said, “I’m realizing right now Katy is going to cry for one solid hour after every performance” then told Copeland, “A few short weeks ago there were a lot of runs that weren’t there but, man, you’re hitting everything perfectly right now.”
Richie praised him for “sounding so professional.”
At 9:58 p.m., after hundreds of votes had been cast and received, Idol host Ryan Seacrest announced the finalists were HunterGirl, Fritz Hager, Leah Marlene, Nicolina and Noah Thompson.
Neither Copeland nor the popular Christian Guardino were named to the Top 5, and on their way off stage, smiling and arms around each other’s shoulders, Seacrest said, “Love you guys,” then told them, “You’ve got lots to do, a lot coming your way. There are a lot of good things to come for both of you.”