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Natchez great-grandmother knows her American Idol

Courtesy of Fox Broadcasting Corporation — Burnell Taylor sings during a performance on the national talent show American Idol. Taylor is currently in the round of nine contestants.
Courtesy of Fox Broadcasting Corporation — Burnell Taylor sings during a performance on the national talent show American Idol. Taylor is currently in the round of nine contestants.

NATCHEZ — When Natchezian Rose Marie Jones watches American Idol tonight, she’ll have a favorite contestant for whom she’s rooting.

But when she casts a vote for 19-year-old Burnell Taylor on the popular television singing competition, it’s not because he’s just a kid whose ability to catch notes has caught her heart — he’s her great-grandson.

A native of New Orleans, Taylor has many relatives in the Natchez area — great-grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, including among others Rose Marie and Silas Jones, Willie B. Jones, the Rev. Earnest Ford and Margaret January.

Rose Marie said the entire family has made it a point not to miss a second of her great-grandson’s performances as he has avoided elimination, making it to be one of the top nine contestants on the show.

“We are all glued to the TV, family and friends, on Wednesday and Thursday night,” she said.

After watching Taylor on American Idol, the family realized that his talent had always been there in front of them, even if they didn’t appreciate it for how far it might take him one day, Rose Marie said.

“He has been singing ever since he was a little boy,” she said. “He would always call and sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to you — he was a born singer.”

On American Idol, contestants perform musical numbers, and viewers cast a vote for their favorite performers via telephone or text message. The contestants who receive the fewest votes in a given week are eliminated from the competition.

Taylor’s mother, Barbara Jones, said seeing her son progress through multiple rounds of the show has been “overwhelming.”

“I am very proud of him,” she said. “It is unreal — I am very excited.”

American Idol airs at 7 p.m. tonight on FOX’s WNTZ.