Happiness is a Warm TV

Raleigh native makes Top 24 on ‘American Idol’

“American Idol” will have a North Carolina native in the Top 24 for its final season.

On Thursday night, the long-running Fox TV singing competition unveiled the final 24 contestants, chosen from thousands who auditioned nationwide this season. Among them was Jordan Sasser, born and bred in Raleigh.

He’s following in a long line of Tar Heel residents who’ve found success through the show in its 15 seasons – Clay Aiken, Fantasia Barrino, Chris Daughtry and Scotty McCreery, to name a few.

Sasser – a Celine Dion-loving, manbun-wearing worship leader – has received much screen time since the show’s audition episodes began airing in January. He and his wife, Alex, also a Raleigh native, charmed judges in their first tryout by bringing their adorable baby daughter, Westlund Joy.

Jordan advanced, while Alex did not. But she said there are no hard feelings with the show, and she and Westlund Joy have been shown face-timing with an excited Jordan as he continued in the Hollywood rounds of the show.

Jordan, the son of Greg and Christine Sasser of Raleigh, graduated from Millbrook High School and UNC Wilmington. Alex, the daughter of Patsy and Jerry Bowers of Raleigh, graduated from Enloe High and East Carolina University.

The couple live in Atlanta now, though Sasser’s home city has been listed as “Raleigh” throughout the competition.

“Our hometown is definitely Raleigh,” Alex said. Sasser has even said he would strongly consider Raleigh for his “hometown visit,” should he make the final 3 this season.

But that’s a couple of months – and numerous live performance shows – away. Next up, the 24 finalists will perform next week, with viewers and the “Idol” judges winnowing the list down. The series finale is set for April 7.

Thad Ogburn: 919-829-8987, @thadogburn