LIBERTY - A country music recording artist took Liberty by storm Saturday night in his very first Upstate performance
In two separate sets during Liberty Idol, Ansel Brown sang several songs from his recently released album "You're Just Smoke,"
After performing, Brown joined the judges' table as the ten remaining contestants gave their own performances of a lifetime.
"We've had the best talent yet," said Liberty Idol director Roy Costner Liberty Idol. "They have been just incredible and I would put this year's last 16 contestants up against anyone on TV, they're that good.
"The talent this year has just blown me away," he said.
Brown, a Greenville native, was in the area this weekend visiting his family and entertaining children in local hospitals. Liberty Idol's strong support of the Ronald McDonald House located near Greenville Memorial Hospital attracted the popular singer to the event.
"I'm from this area," he said. "I was born in Greenville.
"My grandfather, Al "Red" Brown, ran the presses at The Greenville News when it was that really large newspaper," he said.
The country singer said that he enjoys being in small towns, and visits the Upstate as often as his schedule will allow.
"I love towns like this," he said. "My dad still lives in Greenville, so I come home as much as I can."
Moments before Brown stepped onto the Liberty Idol stage to sing before the estimated crowd of 5,000, he paused and said, "I'm a little nervous, but I always get little nervous before I sing."
Starting in September, Brown and his band kicks off their Bigger Hearts tour, which will encompass all 50 states.
With Liberty Idol's grand finale slated for July 5, the ten remaining contestants vying for cash prizes and the title performed in front of the largest crowd in the event's three year history, that included at least one talent scout who also served as a guest judge.
In addition to Brown, guest judges included Lisa Rollins, Sha Bridges, Warren Rollins, Bill Barringer, Howard Hudson, and talent scout Aries.
Liberty Mayor Brian Deese welcomed the fans, which packed the city's Main Street business district, and extended a special greeting to executives from the McDonald's corporation.
"We sure would love to have a McDonald's in Liberty," Deese told the fast food restaurant chain officials.
Performers who were eliminated this week are Angela Seaborn, Hunter McCollum, Nick Giles and Lauren Vaughn.
The five contestants hitting the stage in Saturday's final night of the 13-week competition are Jennifer Johnson, Ryan Gillespie, Nicholas Bishop, Misty Holder and Travis Owens.
Should one of the last five singers be unable to perform, Derek Brackett will stand in as an alternate.
Saturday's final performance of Liberty Idol will bring to a close an event that an ever-growing group of people has enjoyed since its spring onset, Costner.
"We wanted to create something that families could enjoy together," he said. "And this is how it should end each year with people saying 'man, I've had a great time here tonight, and I sure am looking forward to next year.'"