March 22, 2009
STARKVILLE -- It was an energetic scene Saturday night at the Lakeside Apartment complex on Old Highway 12 as more than 20 friends, fans and family members welcomed returning "American Idol" contestant Jasmine Murray.
Murray laughed and seemed to fight back tears as her homecoming organizers shouted "surprise" and revealed a banner printed with "You will always be our American Idol."
"We just wanted her to know how much we love her and support her," said Khalilah Vickers, Murray''s longtime friend and event organizer. "She has such a positive attitude, and she is beautiful inside and out."
Because they remain under contract with the show''s producers, Murray and her family members were unable to comment Saturday night. However, family members expressed feelings of pride and admiration for the 17-year-old former "Idol" contestant.
"The average high school student has something on their mind besides the future," said Vickers. "But Jasmine keeps her mind on things later in life. There are so many different challenges that teens face, and she is really a role model for so many people."
Murray competed in front of a national crowd for several months, but was voted off the show after she was chosen as one of the top 13 contestants. However, friends and family members said they are proud the teen was selected as one of the show''s top singers.
"If you saw the show from the beginning, you see that there were a whole lot of people who didn''t make it into the top 13," said Vickers. "She just recently turned 17, so she was actually 16 when she began competing on the show."
Although Murray, a Columbus native who lives in Starkville and attends school in Brookhaven, has been back in the Golden Triangle for only a few days, Vickers didn''t hesitate to predict her possible return to the national stage.
"We are certainly hoping she will return to ''American Idol'' in the future," Vickers said. "Maybe she will be able to get a record deal before she returns to the show.
"It''s amazing when you look at how well she did on the show when she was only 16 and 17," Vickers added. "She definitely has a bright musical future ahead of her."