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Grafenwöhr locals John Sligh, left, and Alan Sligh, say they knew their brother, Chris, would become famous. Chris Sligh is the betting favorite to win American Idol.
Grafenwöhr locals John Sligh, left, and Alan Sligh, say they knew their brother, Chris, would become famous. Chris Sligh is the betting favorite to win American Idol. (Seth Robson / S&S)

GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — The frontrunner to win this season’s “American Idol” — Chris Sligh — grew up in a U.S. military community in Wiesbaden, Germany.

The 28-year-old Greenville, S.C., musician caught the eyes, and ears, of judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson during auditions in Birmingham, Ala., last month and was selected last week as one of the final 24 contestants who will vie for a $1 million recording contract as the next American Idol.

Sligh, the odd’s-on favorite with online bookmakers to win the talent quest, moved to Greenville to attend university 10 years ago but spent most of his childhood in Wiesbaden, where his father, Chuck, was a missionary pastor for a decade.

One online gambling site, www.BetCRIS.com, puts Sligh as a 4½-to-1 favorite to win the crown.

Chuck Sligh, a talented guitar player and singer who passed on his love of music to his sons, is now pastor at the Grace Baptist Church, just outside Grafenwöhr’s Gate 1, and works as a field representative at Central Texas College on-post at Vilseck.

One of Sligh’s brothers, John, 25, plays guitar and piano and works at the Vilseck food court and his other brother, Alan, 18, plays piano, works at the Grafenwöhr Commissary and wrestles for Vilseck High School.

For his Birmingham audition, Chris Sligh sang “Kiss From A Rose” by Seal and was quickly put through to Hollywood. But the young crooner might have an alternative career as a comedian.

Before his audition, he told the cameras: “Some people tell me that I look like Jack Osbourne, some people say that I look like Jack Black, but when I look in the mirror every morning, it’s not those people that I see, it’s Christina Aguilera that I see in the mirror, and I think that’s who my body looks most like.”

His best line came when Randy Jackson asked him why he was there. Sligh said: “I really want to make David Hasselhoff cry,” referring to how David Hasselhoff cried when Taylor Hicks won American Idol 5.

Alan Sligh, who hopes to become an Air Force officer, said he’d expected Chris to become famous.

“I always knew Chris would be big,” he said, adding that his brother’s humor is spontaneous.

John Sligh, who plans to teach English, said numerous fan Web sites devoted to his brother have sprung up this month.

The brothers said “American Idol” representatives told the family not to talk about Chris’ life. However, they did say that their father exposed them to a lot of Christian and classical music growing up.

“My dad made us listen to classical music because he wanted us to recognize the talent and everything that went into it. Anyone can play guitar but not everyone can arrange an orchestra or write things like Beethoven or Bach,” Alan Sligh said.

“American Idol” screens on American Forces Network’s Spectrum channel at 7 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

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