LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) — As opening acts go, it’s hard to top the president.

President Barack Obama was the opening act for the final episode of “American Idol.”

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In pre-taped remarks Thursday, Obama congratulated the show on its 15-year run. He noted that it motivated millions of young people to vote for contestants.

Then he made a pitch for Americans to demonstrate that same eagerness at the polls.

Obama called voting the most fundamental and sacred rite of American democracy. It should be almost as easy as voting on “American Idol,” he said, adding “we’re working on that.”

Not all of us can sing like inaugural “Idol” winner Kelly Clarkson, he said, but all of our voices matter.

Tonight’s series finale pits two young powerhouse singers from Mississippi.

22-year-old La’Porsha Renae — a substitute teacher and single mother — has brought tears to many with stories of being an abused spouse. Clarkson was a guest judge on a recent “Idol” and exclaimed, “You’re going to win … I mean, I love everybody but wow.”

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Her competition, 24-year-old Trent Harmon a farmer who works as a waiter in his family’s restaurant. On Wednesday night’s show, he brought the house down with his stirring version of Sia’s “Chandelier.” Judge Harry Connick Jr. believed the rendition would give viewers one very difficult choice. Maybe “the hardest decision probably in the history of ‘American Idol.’ ”

Judge Jennifer Lopez, a La’Porsha fan from the outset, told Harmon “It is up to America now, but, honestly, you deserve to win. You do,” after the Sia song.

La’Porsha then sang Rihanna’s “Diamonds,” the version Clarkson said would lead her to victory and got a long standing ovation from the assembled crowd.

“American Idol” season two winner Ruben Studdard will be an in-studio guest on the KCAL9 News at Noon Friday promoting his new single “Can’t Nobody Love You”, tour and album.

[Update: Harmon was selected the 15th and final Idol. ]

When he signed off, host Ryan Seacrest said, cryptically, “Goodnight … for now.”

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