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Defeat of Naples, Fla. singer Lazaro Arbos makes American Idol history; show has first all-female Top 5 ever



The defeat tonight of Naples, Fla. ice cream store clerk Lazaro Arbos made it official.

American Idol is going to have its first female winner in six years.


In fact, this is the first time in American Idol history that the show has five female finalists: Janelle Arthur, Candice Glover, Amber Holcomb, Angie Miller and Kree Harrison.

Arbos was literally the last man standing in Fox’s blockbuster singing competition this week, a talented amateur struggling to compete with a core of female vocalists who often already seem ready to record their debut albums.

His story – pushing to overcome a severe stutter, he impressed with a strong, clear voice whenever he sang – turned Arbos into a favorite of the show and viewers, who kept him around longer than more accomplished male singers. Minutes after his ejection, Arbos was lauded by Jane Fraser, president of the Stuttering Foundation, a group formed to help those who struggle to speak, highlighting famous stutterers such as TV pundit John Stossel and former 60 Minutes correspondent (now ABC News reporter and anchor) Byron Pitts.

"Lazaro will have a wonderful opportunity to be an ambassador for the stuttering community," Fraser wrote in a statement, noting he will tour with the show's Top 10 singers and continue to be an important example of success. “It is important to understand that Lazaro’s fluency is a work in progress, and just like 68 million people worldwide, Lazaro lives his life one syllable at a time."

Still, Arbos' lack of knowledge often tripped him up on both his song choices and his performances. On Wednesday, he failed to change keys at a crucial point in a song, leading him to sing half of the piece out of key.

Judge Randy Jackson pronounced the performance “horrible” and diva Mariah Carey spent long, excruciating minutes struggling to explain to a puzzled-looking Arbos that he had, indeed, failed to follow the backing band's change of melody.

If Arbos had stayed in the competition after such an awful performance it would have been a signal to all that voting viewers wanted a male winner so bad, they would forgive him anything.

Thankfully for Idol -- where producers seemed to pack the competition with ridiculously talented women to ensure they wouldn’t get another guy with a guitar in the winner’s circle – that didn’t happen.

Now, at a time when industry experts and fans are carping about the show’s fading popularity, American Idol is posed to make history again.

The question is: Did change come too late?

Here’s a link to an old St. Petersburg Times story on stuttering featuring Arbos and Kelly Benham's update. Look below to see video of his last, fateful performance.

[Last modified: Friday, April 12, 2013 6:50am]


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