Fans in Charleston were holding their breath as they watched “American Idol” Thursday night. But they had to hold it until the end of the evening, when Elise Testone, representing Charleston, was eliminated.

Fans had known Testone was at risk after Steven Tyler had criticized her choice of a song Wednesday night.

He told her that she should choose songs that are better known than the Jimi Hendrix “Bold As Love,” even as he applauded her choice of performing Hendrix.

Negative comments haven’t been sitting well with voters this year on the popular singing competition. It’s been a season of surprises.

This was not the first time Testone had stared at the bottom three this season. She has been there four times before, and professional musician and consultant Jimmy Iovine joked that Testone seems to have a vacation home on the stools.

But each week she has come back for more. She might not have been America’s favorite by the vote counts, but she hung tough each week. More seasoned singers would have caved under the pressure to come up with good performances with 58 million people voting.

If you don’t know who Testone is from the local music scene, then it is likely you didn’t hear her sing at Fish restaurant in downtown Charleston for the past three years.

She trained for this moment on stage by singing local gigs around town, performing at Awendaw Green, Mercato, Juanita Greenberg’s and the Village Tavern.

She honed her skills while working at a pet store, teaching music lessons at Music Unlimited in Mount Pleasant, and singing at night, sometimes two gigs in one night.

As the show progressed, Iovine praised fellow contestant Jessica Sanchez’s choices, while saying that Testone was “a great singer who makes bad song choices.”

And it turned out that Sanchez was safe, while Testone had the long wait through the rest of the night.

Hollie Cavanagh, an 18-year-old Texan, joined Testone in the bottom three, and Misty Hamby, a Facebook fan posted on the Vote for Elise Testone fan page, “How in the world is Elise in the bottom 3 … AGAIN?”

Finally Skylar Laine, an 18-year-old country rocker from Brandon, Miss., joined the two girls in the bottom three, but Ryan Seacrest quickly told her that she was safe. Only Cavanagh and Testone were left on stage to hear their fate.

And then there was one.The daughter of New Jersey residents LuAnne and Victor Testone sang her last song at “American Idol” with good grace. She went out with Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love,” chatting with the audience and looking like the professional she has become.

Reach Stephanie Harvin at 937-5557.