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Canadian Idol runner-up Craig Sharpe (left) reacts as winner Eva Avila celebrates after the results were announced in Toronto on Sunday Sept. 27, 2006. ((Frank Gunn/Canadian Press))

Craig Sharpe, the Upper Island Cove teenager whose smooth voice captivated fans across the country, has lost his bid to win the Canadian Idol championship.

Sharpe, 16, lost to Quebec's Eva Avila in Sunday night's finale.

More than 1,000 people— or about half the town's population— crowded into Upper Island Cove's recreation centre to watch the live broadcast from Toronto.

The crowd groaned as Sharpe lost the competition to Avila, 19, although the town, about 90 kilometres west of St. John's, is still planning to honour Sharpe with a parade.

"I'm really proud… he's always our idol," said his grandmother Marjorie Sharpe, who said the family always recognized Craig's singing talent.

Broadcaster CTV said only about 131,000 votes separated the two finalists.

Sharpe's fan base was notedfor their devotion —and organization.

Each week, several dozen would fan out to pay phones along Conception Bay to place calls for Sharpe. (Pay phones had a high success rate for registering calls, while home-based lines often got busy signals.)

Fans like Natasha Brazill are convinced Sharpe's career is just beginning.

"I always will be [a fan], no matter what," she said.

Sharpe was the fourth singer from Newfoundland and Labrador to make the Canadian Idol finals.

Fellow Newfoundlander Rex Goudie placed second in last year's competition, while country-rocker Jason Greeley— another Upper Island Cove native— and jazz-influenced singer Jenny Gear made the finals in the two preceding seasons.