Felicia Barton, Joanna Pacitti, Season 8 Contestants

Meet Felicia Barton, Idol’s sudden sub

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By MARK FRANKLIN

Whew! No sooner had I started to relax after putting together bios on the 18 gals who made the American Idol semifinals than the startling news came.

Joanna Pacitti had been booted from the competition. Felicia Barton, seen sent packing on Idol Wednesday night, was back in the competition.

So who is this Felicia Barton?

felicia-barton-1.jpgFor starters, she’s 26. She hails from Virginia Beach, Va. Idol’s blue bar, flashed on the screen when singers audition, identified her as a singer and mom. She earned her golden ticket by singing “Put Your Records On” in Louisville, Kentucky.

And she joins the long list of Idol semifinalists who can already be heard on CD, though Felicia’s is a little different.

Felicia is a member of Freedom Fellowship in Virginia Beach. In fact, her husband of seven years, Loren, is an associate pastor, according to the Freedom Fellowship Web site.

And Freedom Fellowship has a live-worship record available on CD Baby “led by the powerful, passionate vocals of” … that’s right, Felicia Barton. The album is “You Are Near.” It was released in 2007. And you can hear clips of the songs here.

The folks at Freedom Fellowship are obviously pretty proud of Felicia. Their events page encouraged folks to gather at the ministry center to watch the Hollywood Week episodes. “Felicia grew up here at Freedom and has served as our worship leader for the past seven years,” the notice reads. “She is a powerful vocalist, song writer and mommy to Malachi.”

In a video posted on Idol today, Felicia says her son is 1 1/2. And in her Hollywood Week video interview, she said he was her inspiration for trying out for season eight. In Felicia’s words: “I decided to audition for American Idol because I have a little boy and I want to teach him to chase his dreams, and I think the best way to teach him that for him to watch mommy chase her dreams.”

Hey, very sweet.

And Felicia doesn’t just sing at Freedom Fellowship. I found a blog from the Hampton Roads Pilot that indicates she was performing at gigs around Virginia Beach even as earlier Idol episodes were airing this season.

And here’s a video of Felicia singing at Beach Street USA in Virginia Beach in 2008.

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