Mississippi lady, La’Porsha Renae, has been a star on the rise from her first resonant, rich, and heartfelt note on her “American Idol” journey. In a season of stars and deep sentimentality leading up to the competition’s farewell, the stars born from the crafting offered by the show have offered their own tributes to the singer with heart even bigger than her beloved coiffe. Kelly Clarkson gushed “God bless, I wish I did,” reflecting on sounding like La’Porsha, and followed by saying that every time that “you open your mouth, you should just say, ‘You’re welcome!” Renae’s partnership with Fantasia Barrino became a karma connection of kindred spirits, not to mention the countless moments of ovation and appreciation from the panel and the audiences week by week. Angelia Johnson, who has been support, mentor, and cheerleader of her student since high school, concurs with nearly everyone that “this is her season,” speaking beyond the run of the iconic series. The singer herself, though, has her own simple and special wish for this Thursday, which she divulged to “Hollywood Life” in a March 22 release, and it’s bound to come true.
La’Porsha Renae refuses to let her status as front-runner redirect her focus. “Just to make it as far as I have is a blessing,” she affirms with grateful expression. “I don’t think many of us will be upset if we lose from this point,” realizing the potential that the competition’s platform provides a training ground and exposure that extends beyond what money can buy. “You don’t have to win to be successful,” and the lineup of mega-selling runner ups, many of whom have equaled or out sold the title takers, attests to that. Sia is the featured superstar for the week, and the ecstatic Renae is overjoyed to be singing one of the shy singer-songwriter’s compositions, but dreams of something more, something that not even the ever-amicable James Corden got when he shared the front seat with her—a look at her face. “I won’t take pictures, I promise!” pledges La’Porsha. It is a promise that that kind of moment will never be on camera, but bets are that it happens.
One of the most special moments for the La’Porsha Renae came in 2007, walking into the classroom of Ms. Johnson at McComb High School in the town of the same name. “I didn’t know all she was dealing with,” admits the teacher in those years, “but I knew she was struggling with her father’s decision, wanting her to go into the military.” Johnson encouraged her student to stand with her own calling. Johnson still makes a special effort to get to know each student outside the classroom, either with sidewalk chats, or visits on basketball court sidelines. She recalls that La’Porsha always “sat in front, and really listened” to the quotes with which Johnson began her classroom day. The teacher chose her words as carefully as La’Porsha chooses her songs, because those words, that reflected “real life of what my students would face after high school—the hard things.” Johnson especially remembers her former student’s “vocabulary” and that she would “go deep” into the meaning, much like she does now, onstage. Once she made the Top 24, Johnson encouraged “you got this” to the same girl she encouraged in math and life from the classroom. It inspires Johnson to see “after” in Renae’s journey beyond her classroom, and the feeling is mutual. La’Porsha invited Angelia Johnson to share time with her on “American Idol” as the person who most impacted her life.