Before Lillie McCloud even started singing for her X Factor audition, audience members were stunned to learn her age.
At 54 years old, the Orlando, Florida, resident is a mother of three and grandmother of seven. Lillie, or the Sexy Grandma as her fans would have it, has previous experience in the music industry — she released a few albums a few decades ago under her birth name of Nicole — but, as she explains, "I could never make anyone see me as more than just a dance diva."
Well those days are done (and here's why we think she's the winner). Since performing CeCe Winans's "Alabaster Box" during her audition, Lillie has been a clear frontrunner for Season 3. She wowed the judges again during the Four Chair Challenge, going glam in a cheetah-print ballgown to perform "A House Is Not a Home," and easily claiming her chair on judge Kelly Rowland's Over 25 team.
Unfortunately, when Live Shows arrived, Lillie did slightly stumble in her performance of "When a Man Loves a Woman" with Simon Cowell advising her to update her sound. That round, Lillie barely beat out James Kenney to claim the last spot on Kelly's Top 12 team.
For her next live performance, Lillie focused on not appearing "dated" in her take on Stevie Wonder's "All in Love is Fair" and Simon at least was pleased with Kelly giving him a big kiss for his praise of her team member.
Despite the slight hiccups, we have faith Lillie's pipes will get her far. She did, after all, totally throw down after the November 6 tech glitch hit reset on the week's Live Shows. Her take on Queen's "Who Wants to Live Forever" showed this sexy grandma is a queen in her own right.
She kept her reputation as a diva fresh the very next week with Chaka Khan's "Ain't Nobody." Rocking an afro, Lillie showed there ain't nobody like her in the competition.
After successfully making it into the Top 10, Lillie channeled the struggles along her long road to fame by singing Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" during British Invasion night and, once she'd knocked that one out of the park, moved on to the Top 8 for a Big Band performance of the classic "Summertime." Unfortunately for Lillie, America didn't think it was her best and she was voted out during the Thanksgiving night double elimination. We'll miss you, Ms. McCloud!
Watch Lillie McCloud’s audition — CeCe Winans's "Alabaster Box"
Four Chair Challenge: Lillie McCloud Sings "A House is Not a Home"
Top 16: Lillie McCloud Sings "When a Man Loves a Woman"
Top 13: Lillie McCloud Sings Stevie Wonder's "All in Love is Fair"
Save Me Song: Lillie McCloud Sings Queen's "Who Wants to Live Forever"
Top 12: Lillie McCloud Sings Chaka Khan's "Ain't Nobody"
Top 10: Lillie McCloud Sings Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work"
Top 8: Lillie McCloud Sings "Summertime"