I just got back tonight from the American Idol tryouts in Birmingham. No, I'm too old to audition - I went with Seacoast worship leader Chris Sligh [he wrote the Communion Song you can download.]
What an experience! Chris had to be at the BJCC Coliseum by 5am, along with thousands of other contestants and friends. Crowds were estimated to be 8,000 to 12,000. After waiting in line for a few hours he finally entered the building and took his assigned seat. He didn't audition for over four more hours!
The entire bottom half of the Coliseum was filled with people. Section by section, contestants were lined up to take their turn. There were 14 booths, each with 2 judges who judged 4 contestants at a time. Each vocalist was asked to sing about 30 seconds of a song.
Even though Chris is a really great vocalist he's flunked the past two seasons of Idol auditions. He decided he needed some sort of quirky gimmick to get himself through so he grew out his naturally curly hair into an afro. Hilariously, that's what seems to have won this round for him - people told him all day that they "loved his hair." The judge complemented him on his "great look" [as well as his vocal talent] and predicted he'll make it all the way to Hollywood. The music biz is all about the image, folks!
Chris was handed the coveted yellow paper [signifying his triumph] and walked out as the crowd applauded. Judges are picky this year and few were chosen - guesses are not even 300 people were chosen for the next round, so it's quite an honor that Chris made it.
Here's how it works: anyone who makes it past the first round is either really great or really terrible. This round is basically meant to weed out the mediocre middle [although I watched the judges pass on a terrific young singer a la Paris Bennet... people in the crowd actually yelled out in protest "you should have kept her!!"]
In the next round Chris will have to audition before the show's executive producers [the big wig$ who own the show.] If he makes it through he'll then go before Simon, Paula and Randy. Then, hopefully, on to Hollywood where fame and fortune await.
Check out Chris's official website: ChrisSligh.com