Crystal Lake Central grad Grace Kinstler’s in the top five for American Idol: What happens next?

Lakewood native Grace Kinstler is one step closer to winning “American Idol” after making it to the top five this past Sunday.

She now will compete against Caleb Kennedy, Casey Bishop, Chayce Beckham and Willie Spence on Sunday for the semi-finals, during which viewers can vote for their pick to move on to the top three.

As part of the semi-finals, set for 7 p.m. Central time on ABC, the contestants will each debut a new original song, each produced by a “renowned music producer,” according to an “American Idol” news release.

In addition to also individually performing a song inspired by a personal idol, the contestants will be mentored by songwriter, producer and artist Finneas, who has won multiple Grammy Awards for his work, according to the release.

Among the artists he has produced music for is his younger sister, Billie Eilish.

The contestants will be grouped to perform two of Finneas’ songs, “Break My Heart Again” and “What They’ll Say About Us,” according to the release.

Kinstler’s vocal coach Michelle Hackman, who began working with Grace her freshman year of high school and still coaches her virtually, said she is proud but not surprised to see Kinstler make it to the top five.

“We have lessons every week,” Hackman said. “She’s doing great. She’s so excited, so thankful, [and] very grateful to the community.”

Hackman, who is part of Encore Music Academy in Crystal Lake, and who also teaches for the New Music School in Chicago, said she has been booked and had people reach out to her on social media after Kinstler posted about her on social media and talked about Hackman to other “Idol” contenders.

Kinstler, a Crystal Lake Central High School graduate, has seen much support from the surrounding community since first appearing on “American Idol” in February.

Around the Clock Restaurant and Bakery in Crystal Lake put a message on their sign saying “Grace Kinstler from Lakewood is our fav American Idol.” West Elementary School, part of Crystal Lake Elementary School District 47, put their own sign up in April, congratulating Kinstler, who is an alumnus.

In addition, “American Idol” is planning a potential Hometown Parade for Kinstler in Crystal Lake scheduled for later this month. An “American Idol” producer told the Northwest Herald last week that they are still in the planning stages for these events.

During the last episode, when Kinstler sang “Fix You,” by Coldplay, she earned a standing ovation and rave reviews from all three “American Idol” judges.

Lionel Richie told Kinstler that though she worries about messing up, “Your flaws are your magic.”

“You have to understand, your vulnerability comes from the fact that you are in that moment of indecision,” Richie said.

Katy Perry said Kinstler’s performance broke through the facade of show business.

“I think you finally arrived with that song,” Perry said. “And always remember, when you’re vulnerable, and you show yourself, your vulnerability is your strength and people resonate with that. It was awesome.”

Luke Bryan said he almost said a “terrible word” on live TV because he was so pumped up about what he saw.

“I looked at Katy and I went, ‘That was great,’” Bryan said. “It took ... me out of what even what I’m doing. I didn’t even realize I was on ‘American Idol’ watching you do that. It was amazing.”

For Sunday’s episode, which was on Mother’s Day, Kinstler also sang Adele’s “When We Were Young” and dedicated the entire performance to her mom, Sherry Kinstler.

“You want your children to be happy and find their way in life,” Sherry Kinstler said in a video “American Idol” posted on Twitter. “So we tried baseball. She hated the pants. She loved dance, hated the tights. But then she found musical theater.”

When Grace Kinstler, as a kid, “knocked it out of the park” after being cast in the musical “Hairspray,” she found a “true love with music,” Sherry Kinstler said.

“I love you and I’m so proud and happy to be your mom,” Sherry Kinstler said.

Hackman said she’s encouraging all her students to vote for Kinstler.

“We’re just glad,” she said. “I’m particularly glad the world gets to see.”

People can vote for Kinstler by going to, via the “American Idol” app, or by texting 21523 with her contestant number. Ten votes can be submitted for each remaining contestant per voting method.

Cassie Buchman

Cassie Buchman

I cover Crystal Lake, Algonquin, Cary, Fox River Grove, Prairie Grove and Oakwood Hills for the Northwest Herald.