Fox’s leading reality show, American Idol, hosted by Ryan Seacrest made its way to New Orleans on Tuesday, Aug. 31 to Friday Sept. 3, at the Louisiana Superdome, where it held auditions for it’s fourth season.
American Idol, which first aired in January of 2002, is a musical reality show that travels throughout the United States in search of what it considers to be America’s Idol. After contestants have been narrowed down to thirty, American Idol viewers carry the responsibility of voting for their favorite singer following each episode. Viewers have the option of voting over the phone or via Internet.
From Sunday night to Monday morning, participants began lining up at the Superdome in hopes of becoming contestants of the hit TV show. People near and far from the southern region of the United States flooded New Orleans in hopes of becoming America’s next idol.
On the first day, participants received wristbands in order to keep their spot for auditioning, after showing two forms of identification. They were then asked to return on Tuesday for the actual auditions.
On Tuesday, candidates were selected to audition three at a time in front of three of the show’s producers. This was the point of no return for the contestants. They would either be terminated or admitted to the next round. If kept in the competition, contestants would eventually undergo televised auditions with the shows well-known judges, Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, and Paula Abdul.
After auditioning contestants throughout the country, the judges narrow the extensive list down to thirty contestants. From this point America decides who leaves and who stays. For an entire television season, viewers are given the opportunity to vote for their favorite contestant. At the end of the season, a winner is selected.
Kelly Clarkson emerged the winner of the first season, followed by Ruben Studdard, as the winner of season two. Fantasia Burrino currently holds the title as the winner of the fourth season and is well known for her hit “I Believe,” written by American Idol’s first season contestant Tamyra Gray.
American Idol, which has been voted as one of Fox’s hottest TV shows, is most admired because of its ability to include people throughout the country.
Amongst the candidates for American Idol, were a few Dillard students, which included Sheena Sampson, Joanna Hale, Shanelle Staten, George Young and Rahem Drummonds. Although Dillard’s students were not successful in the pursuit of being selected as America’s Idol, they are all confident in their talents and known around campus for their vocal talents.
Sophomore Sheena Sampson, from Dallas, Texas, had long awaited the opportunity to audition for American Idol for the second time, after camping out for her audition last year, in Austin, Texas, where she forgot the words to Alicia Keys “If I Ain’t Got You.”
The second time around, Sampson auditioned to redeem herself and even found this time to be more convenient.
“There was no line this time, I was lucky and just walked up in the line,” Sampson said.
Although she was not selected for the finals, she is confident in knowing that she did well, after singing Stevie Wonder’s “Ribbon in the Sky.”
When asked about her overall experience, Sampson replied, “I had a very positive experience. The judge did not cut me down and he even complimented my singing. I also enjoyed meeting so many new people and experiencing their love for music, regardless as to whether they could sing or not.”
Another Dillard student, 20-year-old junior Joanna Hale recalls joining the line at 6 a.m. Monday. The native New Orleanian sang Oleta Adam’s “Get There.” Hale who has been singing since the age of 5 made her decision to audition for American Idol, after constantly being complimented on her singing voice. When asked about her most memorable moments of American Idol, Hale replied, “The Karaoke sessions which went on all night were very funny and interesting.”
Dillard University junior, Shanelle Staten, from Chicago, Ill., was another participant whose experience with American Idol was quite different. Like the other contestants, Staten joined the line Monday morning but was unable to return for the audition on Tuesday due to a class schedule conflict with her audition time.
“I couldn’t afford to miss my classes on Tuesday, American Idol wasn’t a priority,” she said.
Staten took this misfortune lightly and when asked about future American Idol auditions, she said, “I will try again when I get out of school.”
Following Staten were two Dillard University males, including George Young who also auditioned, but like the other Dillard contestants, was turned away.
“It doesn’t stop here,” said Young. “I plan on auditioning again for American Idol in a few weeks in California.”
Senior Rahem Drummonds, from Bronx, N.Y. made time go by faster by skipping a few people. Drummonds sang, “Pappa Was a Rolling Stone” by the Temptations. “Throughout my life at Dillard, I’ve been known as the singing security guard,” said Drummonds. When questioned about his American Idol experience, Drummonds said, “It was fun just seeing everyone go out there showing off. It was enjoyable.”
American Idol brought a lot of excitement to Dillard University students along with other college campuses. American Idol recently raised its maximum age limit to 26 while the minimum still remains 16. American Idol’s new season is scheduled to begin in January.