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Two Mississippians make it into...

Two Mississippians make it into American Idol’s Top 26

By: Frank Corder - April 11, 2023
Zachariach Smith and Colin Stough

Left: Zachariah Smith and Right: Colin Stough (Photos from Smith and Stough's Facebook pages)

Zachariah Smith and Colin Stough move on in Season 21 of the ABC competition, now looking for America’s vote.

Two Mississippi boys from near Amory have ascended into the Top 26 in this year’s American Idol competition.

After auditioning last fall and making it through to Hollywood week, it was announced on the two-night “Showstopper” episodes that aired Sunday and Monday that 19-year-old Zachariah Smith and 18-year-old Colin Stough made the cut.

Both moved on and their next performances from the Disney Aulani Resort in Hawaii will air next week on ABC. However, this time the pair won’t only be looking for the approval from judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan but they will need America’s vote to stay in the competition.

Smith, who is originally from Wabash, Indiana, was working as a burger cook at Bill’s Burgers in Amory before earning his golden ticket. The husband and father of three has proven to be a versatile performer with a gritty rock sound and big stage presence. Sunday, Smith performed “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen in the “Showstopper” round, drawing praise from the judges as having “one of the most interesting voices” in Season 21.

As for Stough, viewers had to wait until the very last few minutes to find out his fate.

The judges called in Stough along with two other contestants to recap their recent performances and announce what was thought to be the final spot in the Top 24, the usual number of finalists. Yet, when the dust cleared, Perry announced that they were expanding the finalists to include all three young men, setting the number at the Top 26 this season.

Stough, from the community of Gattman near Amory, is a HVAC technician. His classic country sound and down home appeal have so far separated him from the pack. He sang “Cold” by Chris Stapleton in the “Showstopper” round. Monday, the judges said Stough was “finding his footing” and he’s looking the part of an artist.

The competition continues on ABC with performances from Hawaii to air the evenings of Sunday and Monday, April 16 and 17.

You can follow Smith and Stough’s journeys on their Facebook pages here: RealZachariahSmith and ColinStough.

About the Author(s)
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Frank Corder

Frank Corder is a native of Pascagoula. For nearly two decades, he has reported and offered analysis on government, public policy, business and matters of faith. Frank’s interviews, articles, and columns have been shared throughout Mississippi as well as in national publications. He is a frequent guest on radio and television, providing insight and commentary on the inner workings of the Magnolia State. Frank has served his community in both elected and appointed public office, hosted his own local radio and television programs, and managed private businesses all while being an engaged husband and father. Email Frank: