Lauren Alaina Once Performed Live on ‘American Idol’ as a Tornado Was Hitting Her Home
American Idol contestants are used to having to ignore distractions while they're performing — the show's audition process is even chaotic and noisy to test the prospective contestants' focus — but during one live taping in 2011, then-contestant Lauren Alaina had to perform under conditions that were extreme, even for a seasoned pro.
That was the night that tornadoes ripped through the South, including the singer's hometown of Rossville, Ga., leaving much of the small town's population without power, according to a TMZ article from that week. Some fans were concerned that Alaina's hometown support base wouldn't be able to vote for her in real time due to the power cut, and she might even wind up getting cut from the show because of the storms.
Those fears turned out to be unfounded — Alaina stayed in the running until the very last episode of the season, ultimately coming in second place to Scotty McCreery during the finale. But the tornado that ripped through Rossville hit extremely close to Alaina's family home, according to a new interview with her mom, Kristy White, on the Got It From My Mama podcast with host Jennifer Vickery Smith.
"My son was at home...and our dog actually got killed, and he calls me devastated," White remembers. Alaina's brother, Tyler, was a senior in high school at the time, and he was home alone when the tornado hit, as both of the singer's parents were in California with her to watch her perform live on Idol.
"We got disconnected on the phone and Lauren was about to go on air," White continues. "So I go into the show and have a panic attack. I'm crying hysterically. Here my child is home alone in the middle of a tornado, and the phone goes blank. I'm like, 'Oh my Lord. I don't know if I can get through this show. My child is in danger at home.'"
It's not clear whether or not Alaina knew the extent of the scary situation as she performed, but White says that her terror continued well after her daughter got onstage as she waited to hear news from her son.
"I didn't hear from him for hours even after the show. So I'm, like, panicking," she recalls. "But thank God, he was okay."
She later learned Tyler had come home to let the dog in during the storm and found that a tree had fallen on top of the family dog.
"So he was devastated by that and then scared....and by himself," White says. "And in the middle of the show, they had to stop, because I had a 100 percent panic attack. Like, could not breathe."
Elsewhere in the podcast, White reflects on her experience of supporting the then-teenage Alaina during her time on Idol and in pursuit of her country stardom dreams — including the tough choices she had to make about taking time away from her son, while still making sure her kids both felt supported and loved.
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