Pickler returns to hometown

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ALBEMARLE, N.C. (AP) – Former “American Idol” hopeful Kellie Pickler returned home Saturday, riding in a 1968 Ford Mustang during a 20-minute parade and greeting thousands of fans wearing pink, purple, green and yellow Pickler T-shirts.

“It looks like a bag of Skittles poured on Albemarle,” the 19-year-old said. “I couldn’t have come from a better hometown.”

She also rebelled against the tight restrictions set by the show’s producers, who don’t want the singers to perform outside the “Idol” matrix. They even ruled out allowing her to sing the national anthem at Saturday’s event.

But the crowd wanted a song, so Pickler sang, The Charlotte Observer reported.

“I’m going to get in so much trouble for this,” she said, “but what are they going to do – kick me off the show?”

She then belted out a powerful rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Family members joined her onstage, including her father, whom she reunited with last week after he was released from Florida State Prison. Bo Pickler went to prison for stabbing a man about three years ago and trying to run down pursuing police.

“I know a lot of people would think I’d have a lot of resentment toward this person, and I don’t,” she said. “I feel blessed to have him back into my life.”

Next week, Pickler plans to go to Nashville, Tenn., to meet with music producers. Later in May she’ll return to Los Angeles to rehearse for an upcoming “American Idol” tour and the show’s finale.

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