Pastor reacts to Lazaro Arbos
Family hosted American Idol watch party.
Pastor talks about Idol's Lazaro Arbos
Dave Gipson on Lazaro's personality.
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NAPLES — UPDATE: Local American Idol contestant Lazaro Arbos has been voted into the show's Top 10.
Check back to naplesnews.com for updates.
After “American Idol” ended Wednesday night, everyone at the Gipson house pulled out their cell phones and tablets.
“We’re voting,” Dawn Gipson said.
Their contestant of choice: Lazaro Arbos.
Arbos, 21, a 2009 Gulf Coast High School graduate, performed live Wednesday night for millions of viewers as he competed for a spot in the show’s Top 10.
Rev. Dave Gipson — Arbos’ pastor at Legacy Church of Naples — and Gipson’s wife Dawn hosted about 30 people in their East Naples home to watch the Cuban-born crooner, who battle a stutter when he speaks but not when he sings.
The group let out a big cheer when it was time for Arbos to sing. But when he walked on stage, everyone became silent.
After he finished his song — “Feeling Good” — his friends cheered again. They congratulated his performance, even though he couldn’t hear him.
The judges agreed with them, however.
“He thinks he’s in it to win it and he is,” long-time judge Randy Jackson said.
“I love the way you connect with everybody,” judge Keith Urban said. “Everyone at this theater starts to connect with you.”
Dave Gipson said Arbos seemed comfortable on stage.
“Anybody else may have been overwhelmed, but he wasn’t,” Dave Gipson said.
Family friend and church congregant Jennifer Gibson attended the viewing party with her husband Jason. Together they own the Rita’s Italian Ice shop near the Coastland Center mall. That’s where Arbos used to work before he joined “Idol.”
She said she’d watched the show before, but it’s a different experience for her now.
“It’s more special now because of Lazaro,” Jennifer Gibson said.
They’ve all been going through the highs and lows of the process with him, although usually it’s from afar.
When he’s in town, Arbos stops by the Gipson house whenever he can, said Dawn Gipson. He’s like a member of their family.
After one of the contestants began to cry on stage Wednesday, Dawn Gipson admitted she was nervous for Arbos.
“I think the pressure is incredible,” she said.
Arbos has come a long way since he auditioned for the show in Chicago. The Gipson’s oldest daughter, Emily, traveled to the Windy City with Arbos for his first “Idol” audition. She said he asked her because she’d lived there before and knew her way around.
Arbos was nervous the day of the audition, she said.
“He hardly said a word,” Emily Gipson said. “He was trying to preserve his voice.”
Sitting in her living room Wednesday as people buzzed with excitement, Emily Gipson said she is still surprised by it all.
“I can’t believe it to be honest,” she said. “It was such a whirlwind.”
Now, Arbos is something of a local and national celebrity. It’s something that he said is taking some getting used to.
Even mega-stars are sitting up and taking notice of the young singer. Cher is among the music stars that became one of the “Lazis,” a nickname adopted by his fans.
They’ve even exchanged messages on Twitter.
Arbos said he expected some famous people to follow him but never expected Cher.
“When she followed me and we talked, I was like ‘What’s going on?’” Arbos said in a phone interview this week.
Behind-the-scenes, the “Idol” contestants find time to hang out with each other. He said they do bump heads every once in a while, but it is usually short-lived. They’re becoming a family, Arbos said.
“Most of us get along really well,” he said. “We have a blast.”
Now, its up to viewers to whittle the Top 20 contestants to 10. The results will be announced during a 90-minute special Thursday night on FOX. The show starts at 8 p.m.