Lining up as early as 5 a.m., local hopefuls throw themselves on the mercy (and taste) of the show’s producers.
The sun played peek-a-boo Thursday morning over Olympic Sculpture Park, where more than 1,000 hopefuls were lined up as early as 5 a.m. They were there to sing their hearts out for two “American Idol” producers as the production team swung through town for the first round of auditions for the show’s 15th and final season.
They were between the ages of 15 and 28 (in “Idol” land, life is more cruel than “Logan’s Run” — even 30 is too old). Mother-and-daughter pairs camped out with chairs. A girl with ombré hair and a plaid dress toted a guitar case covered in Sub Pop stickers. Others sat quietly by themselves.
Qwynn Daly, 17, a junior at Inglemoor High School in Kenmore, had been waiting since 6:15 a.m. “Idol” has been on television almost as long as she’d been alive, and she’s been watching with her grandmother since she was 5. (Her favorite “Idol” contestant? Adam Lambert.)
She planned to sing “Take Me to Church” by Hozier, but liked older artists, too, including Janis Joplin, whose look she paid homage to, wearing a large, floppy brimmed hat and a white flowing dress with a brown vest.
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For hopeful Ivory Solomon, 25, who lives in Kent, this was not his first time at the “Idol” rodeo. He’d tried out in 2006 at the open auditions at KeyArena. “There were a lot more people than this,” he said of Thursday’s chill crowd.
At the time, he added, “They told me I was good but I was not what they were looking for at the time and to try again.”
Another contestant, 24-year-old Tasha Wahlenberg, had just moved to Seattle from Miami a week ago and found out about the auditions last minute. She’d also tried out before, when she was 15 in 2005. “I was not ready — they just said, ‘Thank you.’ ”
Then, the rejection was devastating.
“I was tormented. Especially as a little girl, you think, ‘That’s it.’ You don’t think there will be other opportunities,” Wahlenberg said. “You don’t see life from a grand perspective.”
Brian Robinson, a supervising producer who has been with “American Idol” for 12 years, has seen more auditions than he can remember. He said it’s not uncommon for people to try several times, and it’s encouraged.
He watched Caleb Johnson, who had auditioned several times before being chosen, finally make it through to the big stage on Season 13, eventually winning the whole thing.
“We definitely had people who’ve given us a shot many years in a row, and we always say, ‘Feel free to come back, but we ask you when you come back to show us how much you’ve grown in a year’s time.’ And those are the ones who end up being a success,” he said.
Robinson says they are looking for a certain star quality, like Season 4 winner Carrie Underwood. “I don’t think anyone would have passed on her voice,” he said. “I just never forget that girl-next-door, down-to-earth person walking in that room, captivating the judges. We hope to have some people come out and captivate us in some way.”
Though they passed on Solomon and Wahlenberg again, Solomon, who’s been singing his entire life, wasn’t discouraged.
“I’ll keep pushing to do other things,” he said. “I’m confident a door will open.”