Youmans: Heading to Hollywood

January 26, 2012|By Heather Youmans
  • Heather Youmans impressed the judges at the San Diego American Idol tryout. Enough to be invited to Hollywood.
Heather Youmans impressed the judges at the San Diego… (Courtesy Fox )

At age 9, I watched with wide eyes as"American Idol"debuted on national television in 2002.

I never imagined that 10 years later I would receive my very own golden ticket to Hollywood.

After my debut appearance in the Season 11 premiere, which showed interview footage, clips of childhood singing performances and my encounter with the judges, and later the San Diego auditions — the episode aired Sunday night after the NFC Championship game and then again on Tuesday night — I began getting inquiries about the intriguing process and my personal story.

After some thought, I figured, who better to tell the story than me?

This column is about my personal achievement: becoming one of 300 singers selected out of 110,000 contenders who auditioned in stadiums across the nation to become the next American Idol.

Today, as a performer, entertainment writer and avid contributor to the Daily Pilot, hopefully I can use my words to tell my story as effectively as I used my musical notes in front of the "Idol" judges, Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson, who all sent me to Hollywood a week after their unanimous decision.


For years my father, a huge fan of the Fox show and a musical man himself, watched eagerly and encouraged me to give it a go. This year, I finally gave in and decided to audition just for fun. After all, the reality show is known for producing singing superstars overnight and turning them into household names.

The prospects are pretty tempting, but I went into the audition without expectations.

Before making it through on "Idol," I had considered auditioning for "The Voice,"NBC's attempt — with little success — at crippling the "American Idol" machine. Nonetheless, "American Idol" ranked No. 1 among adults ages 18 to 49 for eight consecutive seasons. It was also the No. 1 television show of the 2010-11 season, even with the new judges who came onboard last season.

As a side note, I was relieved that contestants were no longer subject to Simon Cowell's notorious scrutiny, but were met by an encouraging and benevolent panel. Honestly, despite Cowell's brash, no-nonsense manner, the guy knows what he is talking about.

So, on a sweltering day back in July, I showed up at Petco Park in downtown San Diego, along with my childhood best friend and 10,000 other hopefuls all wishing to be the next Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood or Scotty McCreery.

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