This would have been the weekend that St. Rose senior Julia Gargano was to graduate from college in Albany, but the pandemic had other plans. Graduation day will have to wait until sometime in September as the singing/songwriting sensation has turned in her cap and gown and replaced it with a microphone and piano. Celebrating a big night on Mother's Day with her mom and family down on Staten Island, the rising star earned a spot in the "American Idol" finals next Sunday night.

In back-to-back seasons of "American Idol," the Capital Region has seen unprecedented success.  Last year, Shaker high school student Madison Vandenbergh had an unbelievable run (finishing third on the show) and this year it's St. Rose 'senior on pause' Julia Gargano turning heads on the popular TV singing reality show.  Within the first 35 minutes of the show, host Ryan Seacrest announced that Gargano garnered enough votes following last week's standout performance of "New York State of Mind" by Billy Joel to advance.

In her first of two performances of the night, Gargano performed the title track to the Disney classic "Beauty and the Beast."

She'll be joined by six other finalists in the "Idol" finale next Sunday night starting at 8 p.m. on News 10 ABC. Gargano, 21, has been living with her parents at their Staten Island home during the pandemic while "American Idol" has continued virtual productions of the show.

The "American Idol" Season 18 finale goes down on Sunday, May 17.  Sunday's season finale will start with two contestants being sent home based on audience votes. Then, the remaining five singers will perform two songs while votes are tabulated in real-time. The
"Idol" champion will be crowned that evening.

You can cast up to 30 votes for Julia Gargano across three different platforms: 10 votes on the “American Idol” app, 10 votes online at americanidol.com/vote or 10 votes via text messages.  To text your votes for Gargano, text the number 17 to 21523. The cutoff is 9 a.m. Monday morning. 

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