This from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: St. Louis performer Sineta Roker, who auditioned last summer in Birmingham, made it through to the Hollywood rounds of "American Idol."
It's not known whether any of Roker's audition or interviews will be used on Tuesday night, but Roker wowed judges Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul.
"That felt so good, to not get any of the negative energy," says Roker, a 27-year-old mother from University City. "I didn't see the mean side of Simon at all. But I knew I couldn't get too excited because this was just the beginning."
A nervous Roker sang Michael Bolton's "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You" and En Vogue's version of the Jackson 5's "Who's Loving You" for reps from the show. But she made it to the next round, which meant returning to Birmingham. Those auditions were in front of the show's top brass, Ken Warwick and Nigel Lythgoe. For the third round, she returned to Birmingham again and finally was in front of Cowell and crew.
"When I first walked in, Randy was like, 'Helllooo,' and Paula was like, 'Hi, pretty.' Simon didn't say anything. The first thing Randy says was, 'So, you're Al Roker's cousin?' " (She is distant relative of the "Today" show's Roker and musician Lenny Kravitz.)
After her performance, "Simon said yes. Paula said I had a beautiful smile and a beautiful voice, but she wanted me to be careful of song choice. Randy was the most constructive. He said when I come to Hollywood, he just wants me to come through the door bringing it," says Roker, who told Abdul that as a youngster, she attended Abdul's dance camp, which earned Roker a kiss on the cheek.
Roker calls the Hollywood experience awesome. "It wasn't just the fact of going to Hollywood," she says. "It was the whole experience of being around so many people with the same dream and goal, and us all knowing we could sing, not just people with dreams that seemed impossible."
MORE GOLDEN TICKET WINNERS
Pennsylvania's Express-Times and WFMZ-TV/69 report that
22-year-old Marisa Rhodes of Lower Saucon Township won her Golden Ticket to Hollywood at the New York auditions.
The pretty singer-actress-interior designer (Simon Cowell told her she looks like Elizabeth Hurley) said, "I was the first person to go in [in New York]. I was nervous and my hands were shaking. It was the first time I was at a loss for words. It was really, really weird. I'm still in total awe.
Burned out from juggling several music projects at the time, Rhodes decided to put her singing career on hold and move back home with her parents, Joseph and Mary Rhodes, of Lower Saucon Township. But at the encouragement of her mother, Rhodes opted to give singing another shot and made the trek to New York City in August to try out for "Idol."
Rhodes endured three rounds of auditions before singing "I Can't Make You Love Me" for Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Carole Bayer Sager. "Everyone was so amazing. And much to everybody's dismay, Simon wasn't mean to me," Rhodes said.
The story goes on to say that the singer nearly missed watching her audition on TV because she was stuck in limbo on her way home from Hollywood. While the 100 Hollywood wannabes were whittled down to approximately 40 in November, it is believed that the Top 24 contestants who will vie for the Idol title and TV votes were selected only in the past two weeks. Does her return from Hollywood on Wednesday mean that Rhodes was among them?
Though contractual obligations keep her from discussing her progress in Hollywood, Rhodes is upbeat and optimistic of what is shaping up to be a bright and successful future in the industry. "Today is such a different day than yesterday, you know, because I can say 'I did it.' It's the start to a new life."
WFMZ-TV reports that another local resident, Tom Marchetto of Bethlehem, is also believed to have received a Golden Ticket to Hollywood.
Click here for a video link of Rhodes singing.
... The Memphis Flyer reports that Cheryl Humphrey, a music major at the University of Memphis' Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music and a member of the school's pop group Sound Fuzion, an ensemble of vocalists and instrumentalists, won her Golden Ticket to Hollywood at the Memphis auditions show.
Humphrey, a native of Little Rock, is pursuing degrees in recording technology and jazz performance. She is the second member of Sound Fuzion to make it to Hollywood. The first was Lashundra “Trenyce” Cobbins, an Idol finalist in 2003.
... Auburn Hills, Mich., resident Abbey Rondo is another singer rumored to have won a Golden Ticket to Hollywood, according to The Daily Tribune. The 25-year-old auditioned for the show and was flown to Hollywood, but cannot divulge how she fared.
"I can't actually comment on that," Rondo said because of the 12-page contract she signed that restricts contestants from releasing information about their participation.
Rondo said after the Hollywood round has aired she can talk about her experience. She is a youth minister for fourth- and fifth-graders at Kensington Community Church in Troy. She sings at many of the ministries offered at the church.
... The Albany Times-Union that Melissa Sgambelluri, an employee at Jean Paul Day Spa & Hair Salon in Stuyvesant Plaza and a former promotions staffer at radio station JAMZ 96.3, received her Golden Ticket to Hollywood in Memphis. Although she was not seen auditioning on the show, she was seen: She was the woman in the red T-shirt who jubilantly jumped into the fountain in Memphis Tenn., clutching a coveted Golden Ticket. (Sgambelluri was rejected at a New Jersey audition earlier in the summer. She tried again in Memphis, Tenn.)
"WAAAAH! I'm going to Hollywood!" the 23-year-old screamed, kicking the water. Sgambelluri had sung Christina Aguillera's "Ain't No Other Man" for the judges, and was asked by Abdul to sing another song. She launched into the George Gershwin song "Someone to Watch Over Me" -- the same song that got her knocked out of a previous "Idol" audition.
She knew she did well, but added "You never know with that show." Jackson and Abdul gave their "approval," but Sgambelluri added that "Simon didn't say yes or no" -- the notoriously rough judge's vote was moot.
A WANNABE AUDITIONS IN L.A.
Quotes from an AP story via Fox News.com by writer and American Idol hopeful Solvej Schou, who tried out in Los Angeles:
... The cool morning air had already turned wickedly hot. Across from where we sat, way on the other side of the stadium, were a dozen tented booths, side by side. Behind that ... exits.
Once we settled in, a jubilant emcee roared us to our feet to sing the L.A. audition's retro theme song — "Daydream Believer" by the Monkees. Well, the chorus of it, at least, over and over.
We waved to the swooping camera, we yelled "I'm the next 'American Idol'!" and we waited.
Row by row, we lined up to audition in front of one of those 12 booths, four participants to a booth.
Sure enough — no Simon, no Randy, no Paula.
... At the judging table in front of us sat two 20-something producers. One was a young woman with sunglasses so large, she could have been napping behind them. The other was a young man with his head propped up in his hands. He said nothing and looked bored. Suddenly Simon seemed not so rude after all.
LOSERS ... OR WINNERS?
Reality TV Magazine reports that an episode of Larry King Live included some American Idol rejects, as well as previous American Idol finalists Justin Guarini, Kimberly Caldwell, Ace Young and Bucky Covington weighing in with their opinions of the show.
Covington revealed that after wannabes get past that first round, they sign a contract that says “if there’s anything funny about you, we’re going to go after it” and “we’re going to hurt your feelings.” The country singer also talked about his upcoming debut on the Grand Ole’ Opry on March 9.
Ian Benardo said he didn’t feel taken advantage of because he got so much publicity out of it, but Sarah Goldberg said that she got suckered in and complained about the judges showing up late for the auditions.
Chris Henry said his audition has led to some Broadway job offers, and Frank Byers said he was taking voice lessons to get ready to go back next year.
The most famous American Idol reject of all, William Hung, sang his new single “Achy Breaky Heart.” After Bucky Covington started laughing, Larry King asked Hung if he had made over a million dollars so far. Hung smiled and answered “Uh, well, it’s safe to say, it’s safe to say.”
Capital News 9 (click on the link to watch the video), a 24-hour cable news station in Albany, N.Y., reports on Jenry Bejarano, the 16-year-old (now 17) whose voice and and tall good looks won him a Golden Ticket to Hollywood in New York.
Of his Idol audition, Bejarano said, "For me, it was really like it was comfortable. I felt comfortable. It was fun."
"For Paula, obviously, I dressed nice. Dress as comfortably as I can, try to look sexy for the girl. You know what I'm saying?" Bejarano said. And Abdul told him, "You're easy on the eyes as they say."
Impressing Randy Jackson, Bejarano said, was a matter of being cool.
"You've got something really charismatic about you," guest judge Carol Bayer Sager said.
"Simon wasn't there. He was drunk the night before, so he didn't come. So, I didn't get to see him," Bejarano said.
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