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American Idol just being herself

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PEMBROKE, N.C. - Charly Lowry often told herself, "Just be Charly," when she went on stage to perform as a contestant in the "American Idol" competition. Her positive outlook brought her to the next round of competition televised on Feb. 24. She was up against seven other talented singers, all looking forward to becoming the next American Idol.

For the contest, Lowry sang Aretha Franklin's "Chain of Fools," with energetic, athletic and graceful motions. Wearing a pink dress and with her parents looking on, she reached for the sounds of soul in her voice. When she finished, Randy Jackson wasn't too complimentary, but Paula Abdul told her that she had the rhythm and "the spirit of your performance." She added, "We're looking for more of a tiger performance."

Simon Cowell told her that he liked her performance. Jackson was in disbelief and Abdul gave Cowell a kiss on the cheek for his positive response. "I think it was great. I really, really do," Cowell said. Cowell had given poor reviews to the four previous performers.

In her taped introduction, aired just before she went on stage, Lowry told some 30,000,000 viewers, "I am a member of the Lumbee tribe. It's the largest tribe east of the Mississippi River," while attempting to hold back her tears. Then she walked on stage and began to sing.

"I like to move around on stage," she told USA Today earlier. "I like to be a flamboy-

ant performer."

However, off stage she remains shy and avoids the cameras.

Lowry performed for one of six spots in this round of competition. Four were filled in the previous contests and only two remain.

Voting by telephone for the contestants was held immediately after the show. Results were not available before press time. The two winners will join the other four in advancing to a competition for a recording contract.

Lowry, 20, is a member of the Lumbee tribe of southeast North Carolina. Lumbee has 40,000 members in North Carolina. They have been trying to become federally recognized since the late 1800s. She is the daughter of Gregory and Delores Lowry of Pembroke. Her parents still live in her hometown where she attended Purnell Swett High School.

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While a student there, she ran cross country. In January 2001, she finished 21st with a time of 23 minutes and 32 seconds at the Two Rivers State 4-A conference championship meet. She was also an honor student and is a member of UNITY, the North Carolina Native American Youth Organization, and the Seventh Generation Dance Troupe.

Lowry is currently a sophomore at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her major studies are in Journalism and Mass Communications. Among her goals in life is to have an anchor spot on CNN.

However, her foremost goal is to become a professional singer and a performer, but she also wants to get married and raise five boys for her own basketball team.

She told "American Idol," "If I don't make it on "American Idol," hopefully someone will see that spark in me and want to put me on their team. If not, I'll still pursue a singing career while working on my degree at school."

Lowry started singing and performing when she was four years old, and at the age of six, she participated in pageants, singing, "Part of Your World," from the "Little Mermaid."

After high school, she received three months of formal training in singing before going off to college.

She listens to a variety of music from rhythm and blues to rock to jazz. Among her favorite female pop artists are Jennifer Lopez and Beyonc?.

Lowry explained to "American Idol" that sometimes she still gets nervous before a performance. "So much so," she said, "that I feel nauseated. I start shaking all over the place, because I can't control my nerves at the time. I need to work on that."

Ultimately, she would like to be a great songwriter. She hopes that in the future, people will feel her emotions, sad or happy, through her words and music.

The Lumbee tribe in cooperation with University of North Carolina at Pembroke held a gathering in support of on Feb. 24. Lowry's performance was also aired at the student center.