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Photos by Ash Daniel
Joey Cook of Norfolk was among those to make it to the next round.
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Felicia Hoyas of Newport News also made the cut.
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Photo by Leslie McCrea
Colby Seagram of Powhatan waits for his audition.
The mid-July heat beat down on hundreds of American Idol hopefuls this morning as they stood in lines wrapping around the block at the State Capitol. Richmond was chosen as one of 11 stops on the Idol Bus Tour Auditions because it’s the hometown of Elliott Yamin, who was a finalist in the show's fifth season. (Our July issue contains an interview with Yamin, who will be performing at a concert in Mechanicsville on Friday.) Contestants between the ages of 15 and 28 began lining up on Bank Street as early as 4 a.m. today. By mid-morning, the line stretched from Bank Street down to 14th Street and up to East Broad. Auditions began at 9 a.m. outdoors under two tents, and were expected to last until at least 8 p.m.
During the bus tour, each contestant is given a short amount of time to perform, and is judged by some of the producers of the show.
Joey Cook, a 23-year-old musician from Norfolk with bright blue hair and fingernails to match, spent her few seconds to shine singing “Tallest Man On Earth” by King of Spain, accompanied by her own accordion.
“I was going to do a bunch of other songs with my ukulele, but they didn’t want to hear it today,” Cook says. Aside from the accordion and ukulele, she also plays the piano, banjo and mandolin.
“All I’m good at is music,” Cook adds. After making the top 150 in The Voice two years ago, Cook came into this knowing what to expect. She made it through to the next round of auditions, which will be held in Kansas City, Missouri.
Lauren Reedy, 28, came from Ashburn this morning to audition for the second year in a row. Last year, Reedy made it to the executive producers’ round in a duet before being turned down.
“It’s always like a time warp when you do these kinds of things — it feels like we’ve been here for 10 hours,” Reedy says, a couple of hours in.
This year, she came in with a peppy attitude, a confident smile, and a bottle of olive oil (to sooth her voice) — but was turned down again. “[The judge] said my vocals were great — some of the best he’s seen for some of the songs he hates the most. He said I made him smile, and it seems like I have an awesome personality and the voice to go with it; he thinks I’m the whole package, but my energy is too high,” Reedy says.
“When I come to an audition, I’m not the kind of person to sit with a scowl on my face,” Reedy continues. “The point is to enjoy it, and if you don’t enjoy it, it’s kind of miserable. Even if you get through, if you don’t make friends along the way, then what’s the point?”
One friend Reedy made while waiting in line was Felicia Hoyas, 28, from Newport News. Hoyas made it through to the next round with her own version of Britney Spears’ “Toxic.”
“I think [the judges] decided to give me a chance since it’s my last year to audition,” Hoyas says. “I always enjoy coming out and seeing how many people are really talented. I got through and all of these people have so much talent; that’s just crazy.”
Hoyas, who has been writing and performing music since she was 16, walked away from her audition with her guitar slung over her shoulder, letting the nerves fall away.
“I tried so hard not to be nervous but I was a little bit,” she admits, laughing. “I play music for a living, so I kind of prepared that way. I thought it was cool that everyone was encouraging each other.”
For the hundreds of contestants left to wait in line the rest of the day, the mood remained confident and excited.
Colby Seagram, 21, of Powhatan County, started his Idol journey by getting in line at 5 a.m. “It’s been extremely fun listening in the line to different genres and different styles of music, and meeting different people,” he said. “I’m most excited for sharing my own music that I’m about to perform.”