Taylor Matos says the wait was beyond excruciating, but well worth it.
At the very end of Friday morning's "Windy City Live" broadcast, the Elk Grove High School freshman finally learned she won her semifinal battle, propelling her to the final three in the ABC 7 show's vocal competition.
"I'm in total shock right now," the 14-year-old said.
After getting the good news, Taylor took part in a photo shoot downtown and then headed back out to Elk Grove Village, where she led a camera crew around Elk Grove High School and her home.
The footage will be broadcast at 9 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 21, during the final round of Windy City Live's Search for a Star Competition. Taylor and the other two finalists will sing one last song, and then online voting will open. A winner will be announced live on the show Feb. 22.
By far the youngest of the finalists, Taylor, who would get a 2014 Mazda 6 GT if she wins, said she's honored to be competing against such gifted singers.
The other finalists are Glen Kimble of Gary, Ind. and Adam LeBlanc from Chicago.
Taylor is debating what to perform next week, although "Girl on Fire" by Alicia Keys is a front-runner.
Many are surprised the petite singer is capable of belting out such a powerful sound.
"I don't think people expect it to come from me," Taylor said. "I feel like I have more of a grown-up voice. I try to sing like the soulful singers and all the greats from before my time."
After joining more than 300 other singers last month for auditions, she was selected as one of the top 12 to sing in several rounds of the competition. On Thursday morning, she performed Aretha Franklin's "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman."
Taylor, who regularly sings the national anthem at Elk Grove High School sporting events, said the support from her friends and strangers alike has been overwhelming.
No matter the outcome, she hopes the competition is just the first of many great experiences ahead.
"This is what I love to do, and so I want to do it for the rest of my life," Taylor said.