Long before sunrise Monday morning, more than 6,000 young vocalists put their dreams of stardom to the test at the New Orleans Arena, joining others from throughout the nation in hopes of becoming the next “American Idol.”
New Orleans was the third site for auditions for the first round in the popular Fox reality show, coming into its 10th season. Nashville and Milwaukee have had auditions, and East Rutherford, N.J., Austin, Texas, and San Francisco are coming up in August.
There were Mardi Gras masks and jangling Mardi Gras beads, guys with ink-black Adam Lambert hair and at least one male contestant dressed like a cross between Vegas-era Elvis and a Mardi Gras king.
Not too far from the front of the line was Karinlee Brister, 26, of McComb, who was planning to sing “Unchained Melody.” It was her first time to audition for “Idol,” although she has sung “all my life.” Just down the line, Joey Stimeling, 18, of Long Beach, was in line with parents Traci and J.C.
“I’m doing ‘Simple Man,’ Shinedown’s version,” he said. Music has been a longtime love, and he even put off college plans.
Josh Ledestich, 23, of Gulfport is in the Navy. Friends and his girlfriend encouraged him to audition. He chose “Come Fly with Me,” the Michael Buble version.
Lorrie Morgan Barnhill of George County is just 16, but she was ready to wow the judges with “something country.”
“Since I’m a country girl,” she said with a laugh. And yes, she was named in honor of the country singer.
Zachary Jones, 19, of Pascagoula chose “Good Riddance” by Green Day for his song. He, too, was auditioning for the first time.