Will next Idol have ties to Ironton?

Published 11:01 pm Saturday, February 7, 2009

Brent Keith Smith hopes to be the next “American Idol,” but the 29-year-old is already a star to some Ironton residents.

The Blanchester, Ohio-native is a contestant in FOX’s eighth season of the “American Idol” music competition. Smith has a variety of relatives in the Ironton area including uncle Ray and aunt Terri Rader.

His grandparents are the late Eloise and Gene Webb.

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The Hollywood rounds have already been taped but contractual agreements prevent Smith from talking about how he fared.

Only Brent knows exactly what happened but relatives do know that he is still competing and could make it on the air Tuesday and Wednesday when the competition resumes.

That may bring back memories for some local senior citizens

“He used to go up to Jo-Lin Nursing Home and sing for his grandma,” said Ironton resident Janiece Fields, Smith’s aunt. “They all know him and are rooting for him.”

Peg Dyer, activities director at Jo-Lin, said she remembers Smith’s visits well.

He would go to his grandmother’s room and sing, while other residents crowded into the room and the hallways to listen.

“A lot of the residents and lot of the staff got to hear him,” Dyer said. “He was really good.”

Some of the residents still have autographed photos of the performer, Dyer said. Those may become a little more valuable this week if Smith makes it through as the show narrows the field to 36 finalists.

Smith auditioned for the show in Louisville, Ky., wowing all four judges with his rendition of Bad Company’s “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love.” He was pictured in group shots last week that showed he had advanced to this week’s auditions.

Smith is no stranger to reality-show competitions. He finished sixth on Nashville Star, the country version of American Idol.

For Fields, the television show has become far more interesting as she cheers for her nephew.

“We’re just a close-knit family. He’s like my grandson more than he is my nephew,” Fields said.