A quick primer on Devin Velez, in nine items:
1. He is one of nine remaining finalists on Season 12 of "American Idol," the Fox network singing competition, and the only contestant left from the Chicago area.
2. The 18-year-old lives in the Portage Park neighborhood, identifies strongly as a born-again Christian and works at a North Side Starbucks.
3. Last Thursday, he barely survived the first week of finals, which begins the show's round of live performances that eliminate one contestant each week until a champion is crowned.
Asked to pick from songs associated with past "Idol" winners, Velez chose a country song, Carrie Underwood's "Temporary Home," because he wanted to show range and, having grown up with a single mother, because he identified with the lyrics. The judges, by and large, thought it a little bland.
Velez finished ninth of the 10 finalists in voting determined via phone and the Web.
The judges have loved his range and poise as a singer through such tunes as "What a Wonderful World," "Somos Novios" ("It's Impossible"), and Beyonce's "Listen."
5. He was called "a Spanish Ken doll" by judge Nicki Minaj (who should know about people resembling plastic toys). Velez's ethnic background is Puerto Rican and Colombian.
6. Velez is a senior at Rickover Naval Academy, a Chicago public high school at 5900 N. Glenwood Ave., which has its students follow a naval science curriculum and Navy rules, says superintendent (principal) Michael Biela: No male earrings, one watch or bracelet, no color on your nails — and if your hair, kept short, is dyed, it has to be dyed a natural color.
Velez's is blond.
He was already well-liked by students and teachers, according to Biela, but for some freshman girls, his "Idol" success has bumped his popularity to a new, picture-in-the-locker level. "Right next to Justin Bieber, there's Devin," says Biela.
7. Even before "Idol," Velez had earned a reputation at school as a singer. He was the lead last year in Rickover's first musical, "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown."
He fronts the jazz band and has won talent shows. You can find videos on YouTube that Velez has made (a cover of Pink's "Perfect") and ones such as "Devin Velez (my talented nephew) Singing @ Amanda's Wedding."
8. His followers, whom you can learn about through his Twitter handle, @devinAI12, are known as "Devineers."
Many of his tweets are about coffee.
9. "Idol" is not do-or-die for Velez.
"As awesome as it would be if I won," he told the show's producers, "it's not gonna change what I would do in the future. ... I think that's different 'cause most people are like, 'I'm the next American Idol.' And I'm just like, 'I'm a singer.'"
7 p.m. Thursday, Fox
50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair