She struggled through rehearsals but felt well enough to compete

By Mike Fleeman and Aaron Parsley
May 24, 2011 08:05 PM
Credit: Frank MIcelotta/FOX

The drama and suspense for the American Idol finale started early Tuesday.

Lauren Alaina, 16, lost her voice and couldn’t finish rehearsals, prompting producers to bring in third-place finisher Haley Reinhart as a possible last-minute replacement.

But after resting her voice, Alaina felt ready to compete in the teen showdown against 17-year-old Scotty McCreery.

“I’m here, I’m ready to sing. I’m fine, don’t worry about it,” she said on stage in a hoarse voice.

During the show, Dr. Shawn Nassari explained that Alaina “was really pushing her voice to get the maximum sound out” and in the process “blew out one of her vocal cords.”

“Her vocal cords were really rough and sprained, kind of like a runner with a badly sprained ankle,” the doctor said. “We gave her a lot of medicine.”