The postal worker from Florida leaves gracefully, blowing kisses and expressing her love

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated May 19, 2005 07:00 AM

Keeping her cool and maintaining her beaming smile, American Idol hopeful Vonzell Solomon got the disappointing news on Wednesday night’s show: She’s out, and the contest is now between Bo Bice and Carrie Underwood.

Host Ryan Seacrest, who can’t seem to open his mouth without telling the audience to “give it up for” everybody onstage, announced that 37 million votes were tallied in this latest round.

Solomon – a 20-year-old postal-service carrier from Fort Myers, Fla., who became known affectionately as “Baby V” – responded to the announcement gracefully, shouting to the crowd as she blew kisses: “I love you guys!”

Part of the reason Solomon maintained her composure is that, having gone this far on the FOX talent hunt, she is likely to land a record contract despite being shoved out of the contest before the final round.

“My American Idol journey has been crazy – a lot of emotions balled up into one. But it’s been all worth it,” Solomon said in a video montage as she took her final Idol bow.

Next Tuesday, Bice and Underwood have one last chance to perform for votes – with the winner to be crowned in the grand season finale on Wednesday. (For the record, past winners were Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard and Fantasia Barrino.)

Country-inspired Underwood, 22, is a college senior from Checotah, Okla., and for weeks appeared to be the odds-on favorite. However, this week’s a capella rendition of Badlands’ “In a Dream” by Bice, 29, may have boosted his chances considerably.

“You may have just put 34 musicians out of work,” judge Simon Cowell told the long-haired rocker from Helena, Ala., after what may have been the performance of the season.