Westlake native and “American Idol” contestant Josh Ledet performs in front of more than 8,000 fans at Burton Coliseum Saturday night. (Michelle Higginbotham / Special to the American Press)
A young fan reacts as Westlake native and “American Idol” contestant Josh Ledet performs at Burton Coliseum Saturday night. (Michelle Higginbotham / Special to the American Press)
Last Modified: Monday, May 14, 2012 7:02 PM
The overflow crowd at Burton Coliseum waited, waited, then waited some more.
Finally, Joshua Ledet took the stage and delivered.
The Westlake native and current “American Idol” contestant performed a five-song before a sold-out Burton Coliseum Saturday night.
Ledet more than once professed his undying love for his fans and called out by name several friends that he saw in the audience.
“I’m gonna win this thing for y’all,” Ledet said. “Ya’ll keep voting.”
Ledet, Phillip Phillips and Jessica Sanchez are the three remaining contestants on the Fox singing show.
The concert had to be hastily put together because it was only announced Thursday who the final three are — the final three each get a homecoming taped in their hometown.
Nevertheless, the free tickets to the show went within an hour Thursday night and an estimated 7,900 people attended the concert.
Burton’s seats were filled to the top and concert-goers filled the area in front of the stage on the north end of the arena.
Two Zydeco musicians, Brandon Ledet (Joshua’s cousin) and Terrance Simien, performed prior to Joshua.
It had been announced that Ledet would take the stage at 6 p.m., but Simien played for an hour with no sign of Ledet.
When 7 p.m. rolled around and Simien prepared to sing another song, a few boos rolled in from the crowd.
“I want Josh, too, y’all,” the Grammy-winning Simien said as he quelled the crowd.
Ledet finally made his appearance a little after 7 p.m., entering through
the south end of the arena on a float with his mother and father and one of his brothers.
Louisiana Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne, who has been sending Ledet food in Hollywood, took the stage with Ledet to tell him that he has officially been names a Louisiana ambassador. He also said that the state
has declared today “Joshua Ledet Family Day.”
Ledet performed songs that he has sung on “American Idol,” singing “When a Man Loves a Woman,” “To Love Somebody,” “Ready for Love,” “I Believe” and “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World.”
“I thought he couldn’t get better, but he did,” said fan Morgan Granger, who watched the concert from the front of the stage along with friends Kelsey Pitre and Carly Pitre, who are sisters.
Kelsey said the sisters have always watched “American Idol” but are now “obsessed” with the show.
“We look at him as a star now, not just a guy from Westlake,” Carly said.
Westlake residents Jasmine Ellis, 13, and Jayla Jones, 10, also watched the show from the floor.
“It was good,” Jones said, but admitted she wanted more songs.
Ellis said she enjoyed seeing the show in Lake Charles because “we don’t have big things likes this very often.”
Rachnee Warren, with posters and her “I love Josh” shirt on, said her favorite “Josh song” is “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World.”
“I think he is awesome, and he is awesome for Southwest Louisiana,” Warren said. “It’s kind of surreal knowing someone that’s from this area and just having him right here.”
Warren had posters and wore an “I love Josh” shirt.
Chance Trahan and Malori Fontenot also had on homemade shirts to support their hometown “American Idol” contestant.
“He’s so amazing — he’s going to win,” Fontenot said. “He’s always good.”
Trahan and Fontenot said in unison that their favorite Ledet performance was “all of them.”
Trahan said they almost didn’t get to attend the performance because tickets ran out, but they “lucked out” when a friend had two extra.
Stanley Vincent, with his Ledet signs, said “Josh is number one, all the way.”
“I feel a lot of emotions coming out when I see him on TV,” he said. “I like every song he sings but ‘When a Man Loves a Woman’ most.”
Vincent, who attended the Ledet homecoming parade as well, said the parade was “overwhelming.”
“I haven’t seen that many people in Westlake in all the years I lived there,” he said. “I saw that and I though ‘oh my Lord, there’s people everywhere.’ ”
Vincent’s son, Seth, said “I think (Josh) is going to win this thing, all the way.”
Dedra Scruggs said Ledet is “the greatest.”
“I purchased all his songs on iTunes,” she said. “We came straight here from the parade.”
Marsha Rogers and her daughter, Jordan Smith, traveled from Bogalusa for a “Mother’s Day get-away” to see Ledet perform.
“We were so excited that Louisiana had an “Idol” in the top three so we couldn’t miss the chance to come see him,” Smith said.
“Josh has my heart,” Rogers said.
A crowd of Saturday’s size hasn’t packed the Coliseum since the 80s or early 90s,
“I thought it was great,” said Danny Friesner, who said he attends rodeos and McNeese basketball games at the arena.
“Absolutely,” he said when asked if he would like to see the stadium maxed out more often. “Especially for McNeese basketball games.”
Stephen LaPoint, who said he attends rodeos at Burton, said it was the largest crowd he could remember, too. “This is amazing,” he said.
Melissa Miles Smith, who was attending the event with her father Larry Miles, said she believed Ledet was “overwhelmed” with the number of people who attended.
“I’m really proud of Lake Charles for coming out and supporting this young man and his gift,” her father said.
For more stories and pictures of Westlake native and "American Idol" contestant Josh Ledet, pick up a copy of Sunday's American Press. Check our website www.americanpress.com, our Facebook page www.facebook.com/americanpress and our YouTube channel www.youtube.com/lcamericanpress.com for stories, photos and videos.
Posted By: marcelle l On: 5/18/2012
Title: shame shame for the voters
could not ask for a better singer. Too bad the public did not vote for him !!!!!
I am very disppointed , he should have been the one and only one. the winners cannot match him ever
Keep your head high Josh you will make it very big in the world of music. You have a greatt future ahead of you
May God bless you with the best of health and luck
Posted By: Joyce Cesar On: 5/14/2012
Title: josh is a beacon of light to louisiana
It is awesome to see our community come together in support of Josh Ledet, his family, friends and fans have a lot to be proud of now we have to make sure we take him all the way, please vote for him this wednesday night May 16, 2012, Love yall!
Posted By: Holly S.-Tomball,Texas On: 5/14/2012
Title: Joshua's God-given Talent
When my husband told me to come watch Idol some weeks ago to see a guy sing who was from Westlake, I asked-'Where? Westlake, California? " He said "No, Westlake,La. " I thought he was kidding, but after seeing and hearing Joshua Ledet and the reaction of the judges and seeing their standing ovations (which I've never witnessed before) , it was no joke! Now, I am a proud fan and supporter of this wonderful young man. I am a native of Lake Charles and live in Tomball, Texas outside of Houston. I've watched Idol for years and became really disenchanted with the lack of real talent and lack of values from many of the contestants. This year, these kids have been a complete and total breath of fresh air for the show. When I was home-back in Lake Charles-to visit my sister and brother-I watched a lot of the live coverage of Joshua Ledet's homecoming. It was fantastic and God Bless the fans who turned out for him. Thank you , LC American Press staff for doing such a great job in keeping everyone in the loop about Josh and writing such positive articles. In my mind, no matter what happens on Thursday night, Joshua Ledet will eventually return home a winner!
Posted By: Mandy Hoffpauir Spittler On: 5/14/2012
Title: Great article on Josh Ledet's LC appearance
The article is well written, and I love the accompanying videos. It's nice to see my home town (Lake Charles) and his (Westlake) on the national map. It was cool to see the support for a local celebrity on all the business signs, when my family and I drove down Ryan Street yesterday.