Asheville 'Idol' contestant battles controversy, wows fans - FOX Carolina 21

Asheville 'Idol' contestant battles controversy, wows fans in Wednesday performance

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Caleb Johnson interviews with FOX Carolina. (FOX Carolina) Caleb Johnson interviews with FOX Carolina. (FOX Carolina)
ASHEVILLE, NC (FOX Carolina) -

Fans gathered once again at Wild Wing in south Asheville to cheer on American Idol contestant Caleb Johnson - the crowd growing bigger each week, management said.

"The farther he goes along, the better it's going to be," said Wild Wing promotions manager Sarah Goodpastor. "We're excited because he's an Asheville boy, so we love it."

But this week, Johnson caught fire over comments he reportedly made about his fans and social media, saying "[Social media] gives access to a bunch of r****** to talk to me, and ... I don't really enjoy having to see somebody telling me what song I need to sing. ... I don't need 10,000 people saying, 'You should sing this, you should sing that. Listen to me!' Fortunately, guys, I'm going to listen to myself, whether you like it or not."

He then issued an apology, saying, "For the record, that juvenile comment I made in the interview was not directed towards my fans but to the wackos that send hundreds of hate messages a day to me! You guys are amazing, and I cannot thank you enough for your support. Sorry if it offended anybody. It was the wrong choice of words."

Many were upset over his use of the R-word.

Fans in Asheville, however, are not so quick to condemn.

"Everybody makes mistakes, and it was a juvenile word, and he was upset and tired," said family friend Teri Gentile. "They're under a tremendous amount of pressure. I think we ought to give him a break."

Fans at Wild Wing voted for Johnson following his performances on cell phones and a laptop computer provided by management.

Johnson's start came at Wild Wing in Asheville, where he would play with his band. Joe Enich of Joe the Show also is getting his start at Wild Wing restaurants around the region, playing in front of a live audience. He said Johnson has a great rock voice, something not seen often on American Idol.

Despite the controversy, fans continue to show Johnson support, and are rooting for him to be in Asheville for Hometown Week. If he makes it to the Top 3, he will be in Asheville this weekend.

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