KINGSPORT, Tenn. -

Kingsport American Idol fans gathered Wednesday night to watch a local contestant perform.

They were rooting for Caleb Johnson, an Asheville native who has ties to this area.

Caleb's parents and younger brother were at the event. It was held at the Rush Street Neighborhood Grill.

"I cant think of a word to describe it," said Tamra Johnson, Caleb's mom. "It's been exciting, nerve wracking, being the mother and seeing your son do something like that."

Out of thousands of contestants, he's made it to the top nine. His mother told us it's been hard work to get there.

"At 7:00 a.m., they are attending a cycling class and then during the day they've got interviews, they are doing photo shoots," she described.

Tamra Johnson told us Caleb's enjoying himself, despite his busy schedule.

"Each time that I've talked to him, I ask him 'Are you still having fun?'," she said. "He's just having a blast, he's right in his element."

This is Caleb's third time on the show in four years. He took last year off to improve his stage presence and hopefully make it to the final rounds.

"He has a band at home so they wrote some original songs, released a CD last summer and did some shows around in Asheville," Tamra Johnson said.

She told us it's paid off this season. He's made it farther than ever before.

Caleb has always been an entertainer, according to his father David.

"Ever since he was real young, he was always bringing a lot of joy and a lot of laughter to a lot of people," David Johnson said.

The Johnson's told us that whether or not Caleb becomes the next American Idol, he still plans on having a career as a musician.