'American Idol' Finalists Liven Up Branson Stage

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BRANSON, Mo. -- Millions of fans watch the "American Idol" contestants sing on television, vote each week, and help propel them into big careers.

Now, finalists from past seasons of the popular singing contest are venturing from the glitz of Hollywood to the slower pace of Branson, Mo., performing in "The Finalists Live!"

The show runs throughout the summer on the stage of the theater named after legendary singer Andy Williams.

"Andy Williams -- obviously, one of the world's greatest singers ever -- we really want his theater to be known as the home of great vocalists," Lynn Meredith of the Andy Williams Moon River Theatre said, referring to the decision to host the "Idol" contestants.

Thia Megia, Kimberly Caldwell, Elliott Yamin, Blake Lewis, and season nine champ Lee Dewyze perform solo and together.

"The decision to come here was just solely, really based on getting out there and playing for fans," Dewyze told CBN News. "Getting out there and playing my new music for people and just being on stage."

"It's a great opportunity, and I took it, and I'm glad I did," he added.

Not only do the fans get to hear the finalists, they can also meet them after the show for autographs and photos.

In a town that's frequented by older adults and baby boomers, shows like "The Finalists Live!" can reach out to new generations and bring them to the Branson strip.

"We're bringing a little youth and vigor to the stage," American Idol finalist Blake Lewis said. "I'm just glad to be a part of it, make some people smile."

For Kimberly Caldwell, a season two finalist, performing in Branson is a homecoming. At age 15, she performed every week in the Branson show "Country Tonite."

"A lot of my childhood was here performing at 'Country Tonite,' and so I, of course, was like, I definitely want to be a part of it," she said.

"(It's) a nice change of pace to get out of the craziness of Hollywood and get into just the family-oriented, friendly people who are nice just because they're nice," Caldwell added.

This is the first group of finalists to perform in Branson this summer.

Two more groups take to the stage before legendary singer Andy Williams returns in the fall.

"The Finalists Live" runs through August 18.

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Mark Martin is a reporter and anchor at CBN News, covering various issues from military matters to alternative fuels. Mark has reported internationally in the Middle East and traveled to Bahrain to cover stories on the U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower. Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkMartinCBN and "like" him at Facebook.com/MarkMartinCBN.