Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


February 6, 2014

Golden ticket to Hollywood

McQuillen advances to next round in 'American Idol'


Urban sat mesmerized as McQuillen, sporting a white dress with a pleated skirt and gray boots, performed an a cappella version of Demi Lovato’s “Skyscraper.”

“I just loved the restraint. I loved the fact that you came in and just chill and just did it, and your voice just crescendos,” Urban said when she was done. “Gorgeous. You sing beautifully. I love your voice.”

Lopez followed with a “thank you,” calling McQuillen’s performance “perfect.”

“That was angelic,” she said. “I don’t need (to hear) another song. I just loved it.”

Connick made it unanimous.

“If all you had was that voice, that would certainly be enough to get you to Hollywood, but I’m excited to see some of the other aspects of you as you come through,” he said. “But I really enjoyed that very much.”

McQuillen said she chose the Lovato song, which she has performed countless times, including at several of Andover’s elementary and middle schools, because of its message.

“It’s about bullying and being strong for yourself, at least that’s how I see it,” she said. “It focuses on the idea of a positive self-image and anti-bullying, which have always been so meaningful to me.

“I picked it because in the moment (of the audition), I could be singing it to myself and was convincing myself I was strong enough to be there.”

As the cameras caught an overjoyed McQuillen exiting the stage following her audition into the arms of her exuberant mother, Flora, who was waiting backstage, Urban told “Idol” viewers, “She is excellent. She’s got all the right things to blossom.”

While fans will have to wait to see what happens next, if Connick is any indication, McQuillen seems to have won some early backing.

“That’s going to be a fun one to watch,” he said of McQuillen.

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