American Idol S15 Atlanta Auditions

9 01 2016

(I know the Atlanta and Denver auditions were in the same show, but I’m splitting them up because the blog was just too long).

And so it begins….the beginning of the end of a 15-year run on American Idol. There will be surprises galore this season. Back of the judges panel are my favorite three judges: Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick, Jr. While some will argue that the original three judges, Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, and Simon Cowell were the best, I prefer the constructive criticism that is given to the contestants versus the ridicule that left some contestants baffled as to what went wrong with their performance. I have been blogging about American Idol in one forum or another (including on the Fox 26 Houston blog site) since season 2 of the show when I first began watching.

If you are a newcomer to my blog, there is just one thing you need to know. My goosebumps never lie. Music truly rocks my soul. My mother had a beautiful opera voice and had auditioned for the NY Met, but didn’t make it. Because of her influence, I have been singing my whole life. I went to music school and my last public performance was at Hamman Hall at Rice University here in Houston. Stage fright got the best of me, my recital bombed, and I decided that this field was not my career path. My vocal coach was going to do a road trip and asked me to come along to be her background singer, a compliment that was not lost upon me, but the idea of being on the road, in gross motel rooms, singing in smoky environments (because there were no smoking bans in bars back then) just didn’t appeal to me. My childhood had been unstable and I decided to keep my stable day job. That didn’t mean, however, I gave up singing, writing songs, and challenging myself. My stage fright, however, has never left me. When I see singers crash because of stage fright on Idol, my heart truly feels empathy for them.

The first stop begins in Atlanta. Michelle Marie has been waiting to audition on Idol since she was 4 years old. She is 15 years old and is from Daytona Beach, Florida. Her song choice is “Blue” by LeAnn Rimes. I got goosebumps when she sang the opening “Blue” inflections. Jennifer thought it was pretty. Harry thought she did a good job with a song that is technically difficult to do. Keith loved it too. She is through.

Some of the previous contestants came to do screening judging on the audition part of the tour including Ruben Studdard, Clay Aiken, Taylor Hicks, Lee DeWyze, and Kris Allen. I am not sure if that was a gift or a curse for them.

Showing off classic country is 18-year-old Josiah Siska from Dacula, Georgia. Singing Johnny Cash’s “Riders in the Sky” in the key of Johnny Cash, this big old deep bass voice came out of this young man. It was interesting, but I am not sure he would make it far in the competition; he would need to learn how to change “theme” weeks into a range he could sing and people would enjoy. Harry got up and did hand clapping and sound effects for him. Keith loved his voice. Harry said they have never heard anything like him yet. Three yesses.

Lindita is a 26-year-old personal trainer who was ridiculed her entire life for being obese. They would say, “She has a great voice but she is fat.” She decided to make lifestyle changes and dropped 150 pounds in preparation for her audition. She also married her own personal trainer. She is from Kosovo. She sang “This is a Man’s World.” Goosebumps! Jennifer says to Keith that she has soul. I loved it. Harry thinks she is a powerful singer. Jennifer and Keith loved it. Keith thought she had too many runs, but she will learn to cut some of that out. She receives three yesses.

Billy Bob Evett, 25 years of age from Punta Gorda, Florida, is a self-described honky-tonk man who is quite the Jennifer Lopez fan. He picks a Waylon Jennings song. He is another contestant with a deep bass voice. He was a lot of fun but it was not as good as Josiah. Keith likes him as a person but felt the singing wasn’t strong enough (the pitch was all over the place). Jennifer and Harry agreed.

Fifteen-year-old Lee Jean, from Bluffton, South Carolina, sang “I See Fire” by Ed Sheeran. Immediate goosebumps for me. His voice is so pure. I think when he added the guitar his voice went off pitch quite a bit. My suggestion would be to lose the guitar so he can concentrate on the vocals. Jennifer wants to squeeze him he is so cute (and she loves his talent). Harry thinks he has a tremendous amount of talent. The singing-in-tune part needs a lot of work which is doable. Keith loves his tone and has a singer/songwriter quality about it. They all give him a yes.

Sylvia Lee Walker, a 16-year-old that likes to talk (A LOT), from Rayle, Georgia got a standing ovation from Keith for her tales of her life that were told at the speed of light. Her song choice: Yodeling. And at the end of that Keith did a “mind blown” reference and collapsed in a ball of laughter. Jennifer and Harry thought it was awesome. Keith thought she had an amazing accent and he could listen to her stories all night long. Keith said she is entertainer as a person, but this was a singing competition and her pitch was all over the place. Jennifer thought she would be a lot of fun at Hollywood week but she also was a no.

Joshua Wicker, age 25, is the creative director at his church. His wife is 3 weeks away from her due date of their first child. He decides to sing, “Stay” by Rihanna. Oh my gosh. From the first note, I had goosebumps. I don’t think it was from the ice on my foot either. Jennifer said it was an interesting voice with a lot of pretty colors. Harry said it was compelling and that is all he cares about. Keith thought he sang it like he wrote it which is the highest compliment you can give someone who didn’t write a song. Three yesses. And three weeks later their daughter Branch was born.

This adorable couple with a new baby are both auditioning. First up is Alex Sasser, a 23-year-old worship leader from Raleigh, NC. She sings Bruno Mars’ song “Count on Me” while playing a ukulele. She is cute and has a sweet voice. Harry thought she had a pretty voice but it was just not passing it at all. Keith felt it was just too light for him as a performance. Jennifer needed to hear more of a compelling voice. It’s a no from all three. Jordan Sasser was next up. He chose Celine Dion’s song, “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now.” He too is a worship leader at his church. He is definitely the stronger voice in the couple. I got some goosebumps. He has a nice face and a nice smile, too. Jennifer thought it was really good. Harry thought he is incredibly talented and smart. Keith thought it was great. Three yesses. What was sad to me is that I think she really believed she was the better singer in the family and it wasn’t just a joking around in the package before the singing. When she left she blamed Jordan for dancing around with the baby which made the judges not like her singing as much because it was distracting the judges. She says to him that she has never been good enough—she’s sat and watch him follow his dream and it’s heartbreaking. He looked shocked at her words. But he reassured her how proud he was of her and that he loved her. He really is the better singer Alex. It wasn’t the distraction of your baby in the room. And no offense, but you are a worship leader and we just witnessed one of the seven deadly sins:  Envy.

 


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