American Idol Season 13 Detroit Auditions

29 01 2014

One of the best things Idol has done was to go to Detroit for one of their audition cities. We all know about it being the birth of the Motown sound, but they have suffered more than most American cities with the recession. Not only did it bring some much needed revenue into the city, but it also showcased some wonderful talent.

I think Radioactive is just a bad song with which to audition. Fortunately for 24-year-old Keri Lynn Roche, the judges asked her to sing a different song. She slayed it. She should lose the guitar. The judges said absolutely yes.

Julian Miller is an 18-year-old shoe salesman from Detroit. He was excellent and is through to the next round.

Paris Primeau is a 16-year-old student from Macomb, Michigan. I thought she was quite unique. Keith did not like her theatrics, but she is through to the next round.

My first thought about Samantha Furtwengler was that she would need to change her name if she becomes famous. (Sorry I don’t mean to make fun of people’s names but this one just doesn’t roll off the tongue very easily). I am iffy on her voice. She received a no. When she returns to the lobby, her sister (I think) looked shocked like “how is that possible? Am I being punked?”

I loved Olivia Diamond, a 22-year-old student from Detroit. She is through to the next round.

Tuba-player Malaya Watson is adorable. She is a 15-year-old student at Southfield High School in Michigan. I was amazed by the control in this young one’s voice. I had goosebumps (the first of the night). Jennifer felt that God gave her something so pure and real and special. Welcome to Hollywood.

This is the last shot for Bryan Watt, a 29-year-old, nonprofit director from Thomasville, Georgia. Another goosebump-maker. Harry said it was competent, patient and an easy performance. They jokingly referred to him as Superman because he looks like the actor. He was instructed to bring his cape to Hollywood (and cue the song from Daughtry).

I don’t like Khristian D’avis‘ voice. She is a 22-year-old server from Chicago. She has a band. I do not think she was good enough. She was going in and out of different keys. Keith said it was dynamically inconsistent and her pitch was shaky in spots. Jennifer said that her style came from her lack of ability to hold notes. Harry said it was funny how she lost her accent that she had at the beginning of the audition in just the last 3 seconds. Jennifer noticed that, too. Jennifer says yes; Keith says no. Harry gives her another chance with a warning to figure out what is real and what is fake. After she left the audition they start to talk. Keith said he got upset when she did not listen to the great advice she was getting and she was not even trying to learn.

I was not impressed with Jena Asciutto‘s performance with Rolling in the Deep. She has this weird thing she does on some of her notes that was just plain annoying. It is not the level of quality we have seen with other contestants. Harry notices that her tongue closes off her throat at times (this must be what is causing that annoying sound). Keith loved it. Jennifer likes when a song does not sound like the original singer. She gets three yeses.

Dam Dinh, Antonio Brown, and Chaz Coley are all no’s.

Her father toured during her young years but he gave up his dreams to give her a good life. Melanie Porras, age 19, an administrative assistant from Kennesaw, Georgia, now follows in her father’s footsteps. I like her. The song did not show a lot of range though. She reminded me a little bit of Hayley Reinhart. Jennifer thought she played it safe and asked her to do another song. She chose “Dead or Alive” by Bon Jovi. I thought that was a much, much better choice for her. Keith, too, thought it was way better. It proves that song choice is CRUCIAL! She gets three yeses.

Then we had some hilarity with the judges. Jennifer excused herself to go to the bathroom and Harry auditioned for Keith. Harry botched his performance on the Star Spangled Banner but Keith was still going to give him a golden ticket.

Harry must have loved the next contestant, Liam Newberry, an 18-year-old student from Chagrin Falls, Ohio, because he loves Harry’s music. He sang a Frank Sinatra song without the Sinatra in it. He has a nice voice but there was no soul in it. It is a sound we haven’t heard yet within the competition this year, but it is just not good enough. Maybe he was nervous. Jennifer said it did not have any swag. Keith thinks the sexiness of the genre was not there. Harry tells him to forget everything he learned in musical theater. He told him to find the emotion. Liam tries to convince him if they give him another chance he could do that right then. They hand him three no’s.

I liked Jade Lathan, a 20-year-old student from Monroe, Michigan. She performs an Amy Winehouse song. She did great. Harry thinks she is adorable. It was “absolutely yes” from the three judges.

Keith played guitar for Jared White. From what I heard, he sounded really good. He is through to Hollywood.

Sarah Scherb, age 19, a student from Birmingham, Michigan. There is something about her tone I did not like. Maybe it was too nasal. But she has three yeses and is through to Hollywood.

Sydney Arterbridge planned to do Minnie Riperton’s “Lovin’ You”. At her tender age of 15, she nailed it. I like her. She is through to Hollywood.

Last contestant being shown from the day-one auditions is Maurice Townsend. He is the minister of music at his church and a student. He sings “So High” by John Legend. I had goosebumps. They asked him to bring in his wife and 4 children. Jennifer and Harry coached one of the children to tell his dad that he was through to Hollywood.

Day two of the Detroit auditions and Jennifer is late (10:23 a.m.) . Returning to Idol is David Oliver Willis from Mount Dora, Florida. He had made it to the Vegas week. The past year he was working on his music and he and his wife opened a coffee shop in town. I love his voice. Harry thinks his instrument drives his vocals and he worries about those times he can’t play during American Idol (really? I don’t remember them restricting contestants in the past). Keith loves him. David is through to Hollywood. After leaving, however, Harry thinks he was born to play and sing, but does not think he is going to win. Jennifer says to him that you never know.

Identical twins Rakita and Karlita Gulledge say they have “natural talent.” They are terrible. Oh dear. I really want it to stop. Harry thought it was a minute of screaming. Jennifer thought it was like a high school talent show and was out of tune and a lot of screaming. Keith just says he has nothing more to add. Bye-bye.

In tonight’s #IdolHollywood or #IdolHome, Amanda with a copper wire in her hair was told by Harry that singing was not for her. I think that might be a bit harsh. I think singing for herself or her loved ones is just fine. Amanda now hates Harry.

Blake Soles was hoping for a ticket to Hollywood. Keith gives him some great advice instead.

Another returning Idol contestant was Brandy Neely sporting a new haircut. She was last seen in the Chicago auditions for season 12. She sang “Wanted” by Hunter Hayes. It was too breathy for me. I would like her voice if she got rid of that quality. Harry tells her to keep the guttural sound she makes but Jennifer tells her that is what has her on the fence and she thinks Brandy should lose it. But with Keith and Harry saying yes, Jennifer did not even mention her opinion, but I think she would have been a no.

Ethan Harris, donned “the lost Osmond brother”, is not only a good singer but a talented artist. He drew this beautiful sketch of Keith and he signed it. He had the audacity to sing Keith’s song, “You’ll Think of Me.” I would say yes even though the song did not allow him to show a huge range in vocals. They all dug him and he is through to Hollywood.

Next is a group of three auditions: Leah Guerrero, a 21-year-old file clerk from Clinton Township, Michigan. I think she needs to lose some of that vibrato. Zach Day, age 19, a tram driver from Stearns, Kentucky. I did not see enough to have an opinion. Symphony Howlett, age 24, a hostess from Miami, Florida. She was nasal and that sound in the back of the voice where it sounds like she is swallowing her own tongue is annoying me. Harry noted that, too, and said it was incredibly annoying and distracting. However, all three are through to Hollywood.

Although she is now living in Hollywood, Ayla Stackhouse returned to her hometown of Detroit to audition. She is a 17-year-old student. I was impressed with her vocal control and she has this light around her that is appealing. She is very articulate for her age. They see her star quality and say yes.

Eric Gordon, age 27, a lab technician from Richmond, Kansas is up next. His voice reminded me of the Motown sound; however, he needs a different hairstyle. He receives three yeses.

Of course, they still have to show the occasion bad audition. This time it was from Xavier Calvillo, age 25, a machine operator from Dearborn Heights, Michigan. He has a gritty voice that yells all the time. Harry was not impressed. Jennifer does not think it is as good as it needs to be. He wants more chance. Harry encourages him to leave with his dignity intact. He keeps begging. He gets three no’s, but as he is walking out begs for one more chance.

I think Tony Delbarrio should stick to construction work. He gets three no’s. He wants to try singing “Born to Be Wild” They say no. He sings Radioactive in the lobby and he thinks he has nailed it (right in the lobby) but he did not.

Ryan Nisbett is someone I will remember. He has a great story (having lost weight from 320 pounds), a great look, and a great sound. I loved his voice but especially his falsetto. He messed up on a note, but Harry and Jennifer looked as though they found it endearing. He pulls it back together to end it well. He is a 24-year-old art student from Deckerville, Michigan. Jennifer thought he was one of a kind. Harry thinks he is unique. He gets three yeses. He gets additional props from the judges when they discover he is sick after he politely told Keith he didn’t want to shake his hand because he had just coughed in it and didn’t want to spread his germs. The judges found it refreshing that he did not try to use it as an excuse. Ryan also appreciated the no-handshake gesture.

They closed out the Detroit auditions with a touching story about Marrialle Sellars, the 17-year-old young lady we saw at the top of the first show for season 13. Her father had encouraged her all her life to do musical things whether it was her voice or an instrument. He built her and her sisters a studio. In 2008 he died several days after Christmas. He left her a note to go forth and use her God-given talents. I think this is one of those cases where Harry commented about Nikki McKibbin’s son, if the story wasn’t there would they put the son through. In this case, I think their emotions of the story clouded their ears. I did not like it. It was off key in a lot of spots. Harry thinks she will be a nightmare for the other contestants. I don’t think so. She gets three yeses.

In Detroit, 40 tickets were handed out giving a new grand total of 119 bound for Hollywood.

Next: Atlanta

American Idol Season 12 Long Beach Auditions

1 02 2013

The California auditions for American Idol Season 12 occurred on the Queen Mary. Miscellaneous irrelevant information that may or may not interest you: My mother used to work for Cunard back in the 1960’s and she got to tour both the Queen Mary and the Queen Elizabeth ships. All of my life living with her, she proudly displayed the two pictures in our living room. Ignore the little boy (my brother) in the picture and look in the background. The one with the 3 stacks I believe was the Queen Elizabeth and the 2 stacks was the Queen Mary. Or it’s the reverse. I have vague memories of being on the tour with her. She passed away many years ago and I do not know what ever happened to these pictures.


Look past the kid to the ship portraits on the wall.

For at least one of the contestants, Shubha Vedula, Keith Urban and Randy Jackson were the only judges available as Nicki Minaj was rehearsing for the American Music Awards and Mariah Carey was stuck in traffic. They had a little fun with her name. She sang Christina Aguilera’s “Something’s Got A Hold On Me.” She has a really great voice. I think she’ll be in the top 40.


Shubha Vedula

I felt really bad for the next contestant, Brian Martinez. Apparently while in the john, a music producer named “John” told him he should try out for American Idol. Apparently John lied. While I normally don’t feel sorry for individuals like this, it wasn’t so much anger and tears as he looked like his spirit was crushed.

US Veteran Matt Farmer brought her darling daughter into the audition. He had an amazing story about his traumatic brain injury from an incident in combat. He had to take a medication that his doctor said would cause him to be sterile, and 6 months later, his beautiful daughter was conceived. I like his eyes. There is an honesty about them and his aura is just radiant. He did a bang-up job on “A Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke.


Matt Farmer

Purpled-haired Stephanie Sanson’s version of Adele’s “Set Fire To the Rain” was not exactly what I was expecting. I guess she decided she needed to exorcise her demons. But it did remind me of another song from the movie “XXX” with Vin Disel: “I Will Be Heard” by Hatebreed.


Looks harmless, doesn’t she? Her poor mother must be deaf by now.

When the fire alarm went off during Jesaiah Baer’s audition, I thought, “Demon chick decided to set fire to the rain literally.” But it was a car exhaust under a veranda? She returned and sang Kimbra’s “Settle Down” again and got 4 yeses. She is cute and has a unique voice. I was shocked she was only 16.


Jesaiah Baer

Keith Urban harmonized with Micah Johnson to the song, “Chicken Fried” by Zac Brown Band. You would never be able to tell he had nerve damage from having his tonsils removed. I guess maybe the same theory for people who stutter while speaking can sing also applies in this case–singing uses different muscles.


Micah Johnson

The unnamed 10-year-old who was singing on the ship who thinks she is going to be the next American Idol in 5 years really does not need to wait that long. She only has to be 13 to try out for The X-Factor. What an amazing talent!

What? What do I see? Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey are actually sitting next to each other? WHOA! I like the truce.

Kimberly “Rachel” Hale has a nice voice, but I did not like her eye movements. They were distracting me. One of those performers who I need to listen to with my eyes shut.


Rachel Hale

I think this story is the one they should have ended with because I am so irked about the final contestant…but I don’t want to get ahead of myself. Briana Oakley was featured on as Maury’s Most Talented Kids in 2009. She opened for Latoya London. Apparently after that, she went back to her school and instead of becoming the most popular girl in school became bullied. At age 16, however, she is going to get the last laugh because she is going to Vegas–right through Hollywood and right into the top 10. She sang “Up To the Mountain” by Patty Griffin and the hair on my arms was standing at attention. Let me point out, that they never tried to hide the fact that she has been professionally singing since age 4, that she was on Maury, etc.


Briana Oakley

Now MY RANT. Meet the next contestant: Mateus Fernandes, age 21. Very inspiring story. Very positive attitude. He gets into the audition room and is going to sing, “A Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke. I am not the only person on Twitter that appears to have watched “The Glee Project,” Season 1. If they were honest with that, I would not be reacting like this. I don’t know if this was an editing decision or a Mateus’ decision, but he was acting like all of his life no one gave him a break because of his size. I don’t believe any of those tears. Not only did he get vocal coaching from that show, but he got intense choreography and acting lessons. And he came in 8th place out of 40,000 people that auditioned. And he’s saying, “This is crazy, this is crazy?” Let me share. The show’s first season premiered in the US on June 12, 2011 and aired until August of 2011. Perhaps he is suffering short-term memory problems? The auditions for Idol Season 12 likely occurred during the summer of 2012. Could he have forgotten his FIRST big break in just a matter of a year? He said this on the You Tube posting of his Idol audition, “I talked about being in ‘The Glee Project,‘ but they just didn’t wanna show that. And what you saw on this video is indeed the real me, not the “character” that you saw on TGP since that’s the persona they wanted for me on that show. This is me. Apologies if you don’t like it, but that’s alright. I am happy with who I am nowadays. It’s been a long journey thus far. I wouldn’t change a single thing.”

If the producers did indeed cut that out for whatever their reasons, it backfired. People will tolerate being manipulated by an inspiring story only so far. People do not like to be outright deceived.



Matheus Fernandes

Next: The journey finally ends in Oklahoma City before Hollywood week.