Lee DeWyze's first-place finish on "American Idol" confirmed for some fans in his suburban Chicago hometown what they already knew: The paint store clerk can really sing.
Mike Salapatas of Mount Prospect, Ill., had predicted DeWyze would win over Crystal Bowersox in the singing competition hours before the TV show aired Wednesday night. He said DeWyze, 24, has a "unique voice" and said he has been following him since DeWyze started performing in local bars and coffee shops.
Thousands of fans gathered in front of a giant television screen in a park in Mount Prospect to cheer on DeWyze. Many wore yellow or teal T-shirts and waved yellow balloons as they chanted, "We believe! We believe!"
Police spokesman Mark Bechtold said fans "set off fireworks when Lee won, and the crowd went nuts for about 10 straight minutes." He estimated about 5,500 people turned out and said no problems were reported.
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Willie cuts his hair
Country music fans have come to expect a little eccentricity from legendary crooner Willie Nelson , but he pulled off a real shocker this time: He cut his hair.
"Oh Noooooo!," wrote one fan who saw a picture of Nelson's new do on the website of Nashville television and radio personality Jimmy Carter.
Nelson's waist-deep, reddish pigtails have long been one of the singer-songwriter's signature features. But spokeswoman Elaine Schock said Nelson, who's been hanging loose in Hawaii, got his hair cut in the past couple of weeks.
Schock said the Texas-born performer didn't make a big fuss about the makeover and thought he might have grown tired of dealing with long locks. She said, "there's a lot of maintenance."
DeGeneres starts music label
After a season judging singers on "American Idol," Ellen DeGeneres is delving deeper into the music business with her own label.
The talk-show host was announcing on her show Wednesday that she is starting a label called eleveneleven. Her first act will be 12-year-old Greyson Chance , who recently became a sensation on YouTube with his piano version of Lady Gaga's "Paparazzi."
There's no word on when the label will start. It was formed with Telepictures Productions.
Maxwell to delay CD release
The plan was for Maxwell to release the second album in his "BLACKsummers'night" trilogy this summer. But success is getting in the way.
The best-selling crooner said the popularity of his comeback disc is forcing him to delay the release of the next one.
"These are good problems, I guess," Maxwell joked.
"BLACKsummers'night" — his first album in eight years — has sold more than 1 million copies since it was released last summer. It won the 37-year-old the first two Grammys of his career earlier this year.
He's just launched a tour with singer-actress Jill Scott ; he will also be touring with Erykah Badu and Melanie Fiona .
Another year older
Today's birthdays: Actress Carroll Baker , 79... singer Gladys Knight , 66... singer John Fogerty , 65... actress-director Sondra Locke , 63... country musician Jerry Douglas (Alison Krauss and Union Station), 54... singer Kylie Minogue , 42... television personality Elisabeth Hasselbeck ("The View"), 33... pop singer Colbie Caillat , 25 ... actress Carey Mulligan , 25.