BY LISA WARREN
The Band Perry had their Wednesday evening meal suddenly interrupted by a really big surprise.
The Greeneville trio, who are in the Midwest touring with country music superstar Tim McGraw, were out with their band members at a restaurant.
They had just placed their orders when suddenly each one of their cell phones began to buzz.
Within five minutes, they had each received more than 20 calls and texts from friends, family and business associates -- all excited to tell them that one of their songs was being performed live by an "American Idol" semi-finalist.
The news was a complete surprise for the band members, who had no idea their song was being featured on one of America's most popular television shows.
Lauren Alaina, the 16-year-old "Idol" contestant from Rossville, Ga., delivered a beautiful vocal performance of the band's Gramm-nominated hit, "If I Die Young," during the live show on Wednesday night.
The song was selected for Alaina to perform by well-known music industry executive and "American Idol" mentor Jimmy Iovine, who said that he has been wanting to hear the teenage contestant sing this particular song ever since he first heard her voice.
On Thursday night's show, it was revealed that Alaina, along with fellow "Idol" country vocalist Scotty McCreery, were the two remaining contestants. They will compete for the 2011 "American Idol" title.
The Band Perry's lead singer, Kimberly Perry, who wrote "If I Die Young," said in a telephone interview with The Greeneville Sun that she and her brothers were elated and honored to hear that their song was performed on the widely popular show.
The Perrys called it "a proud moment" for them.
"It's so exciting to see a song we wrote in our basement walk its way onto one of America's biggest stages. We wish Lauren much luck in the competition and thank her for lending such a sweet voice to our song," the Perrys said on Thursday.
Their second single, "If I Die Young" has been to date the most popular song from The Band Perry's self-titled debut album.
The song went straight to No. 1 on the country radio charts and was certified platinum for selling more than 1 million copies.
The song also received a prestigious Grammy nomination for the band.
The Perry siblings, who have skyrocketed to country music fame during the past year, are natives of Alabama.
But they now call Greene County their home since moving here with their parents, Dr. Steve and Marie Perry, in 2002.
ON THE ROAD IN KANSAS
As noted above, the band is currently in the midst of a nationwide tour with country artist Tim McGraw.
On Thursday morning, they were on their way to a show in Wichita, Kan., when they took time to speak with The Greeneville Sun by telephone about their exciting "dinner interruption" the night before -- as well as what lies ahead for them in the coming days and weeks.
Kimberly Perry said she didn't know if she and her brothers were more excited by the fact that Lauren Alaina sang their song -- or that "Idol" celebrity judge Steven Tyler called "If I Die Young" a "beautiful song."
"We're such big fans of Steven Tyler!" said Kimberly with excitement.
Tyler is the front man for the legendary American rock group Aerosmith. This is his first year as a celebrity judge on "American Idol."
The band also received praise from Tyler's fellow "Idol" judge Randy Jackson, who called "If I Die Young" a great song, and added, "I love that band!"
Reid Perry said that he and his brother and sister found Alaina's performance online, so that they could take a listen to her version of their song.
"She did a great job on it," he said.
SALES SOAR AFTER 'IDOL'
After the song was performed on "Idol," the Perrys said that iTune sales of "If I Die Young" soared, along with sales of their album.
"Our album came out last October. So for us to be No. 2 again on iTunes - that's really amazing," Neil Perry said.
To mark the release of their album in October, the band held a special celebration in downtown Greeneville which attracted more than 4,000 hometown fans.
The band performed a free mini-concert and spent time meeting and greeting fans, signing autographs and taking photos with them.
Within only four months after the album's release, it had acheived certified gold status, selling 500,000 copies.
Their current single from the album, "You Lie," has been the band's fastest-climbing radio single to date.
During the past year, The Band Perry has also garnered several prestigious music industry award nominations.
Among those, the band recently earned their first Academy of Country Music Awards for "Top New Duo or Group of the Year" as well as the coveted "Top New Artist of the Year."
WHAT'S NEXT FOR BAND
On June 8, the Perrys will be headed to the Country Music Television (CMT) Music Awards, which will air live that evening from Nashville.
They have been nominated for three CMT Awards, including: "Video of the Year," "Group Video of the Year," and "USA Weekend Breakthrough Video of the Year" -- all for "If I Die Young."
In addition, David McClister, who directed the "If I Die Young" video, has been nominated for "Video Director of the Year."
The CMT Awards is a fan-voted honors show. Persons who would like to vote can do so at http://www.cmt.com.
For each category in which an artist wins at the CMT Awards, the music television network provides $2,500 for that artist to designate to his/her/their favorite charity.
The Band Perry has chosen to designate any monies that they may receive at the CMT Awards to the Greene County Chapter of the American Red Cross.
Following a show tonight in Kansas City, Mo., The Band Perry will be headed to St. Louis for a show on Saturday night.
Other upcoming performances for the trio include: May 28, in Fort Worth, Texas; May 30, in Herrin, Ill.; June 2, in Nashville, and June 3, in Phoenix.
On July 2, The Band Perry will be returning home to East Tennessee for a free show in Rogersville at an Independence Day Celebration.
For a complete list of the band's touring schedule as well as to find a link to the CMT Music Awards voting, visit their website at http://www.thebandperry.com. You can also follow the band on Facebook.