Birmingham Auditions

Season 6 auditions take place in Birmingham, AL today.  USAToday’s Idol Chatter blog has reporters there covering the action.  Some highlights so far:

  • “Each auditioner wore a gray wristband. The color is in honor of the prematurely mature head of last year’s winner, Taylor. Idol supervising producer Patrick Lynn summed it up: ‘Gray hair, gray wristband.”’
  • “Police estimated that the gathering attracted more than 10, 000. Some of them were not contestants; as usual, auditioners were allowed to bring one companion.”
  • “Idol host Ryan Seacrest and hometown hero Ruben Studdard were on hand. Seacrest taped a segment outside the convention center after 8 a.m. with thousands of screaming, sign-waving potential Idols. Studdard wore a red shirt adorned with “205” — Birmingham’s area code -– as he sang a musical welcome to the contestants inside.”
  • “Meanwhile…the mass sing-along number for this audition is — no big surprise here — Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Sweet Home Alabama.”

UPDATE: Here’s a list of contestants sent on to the 2nd round, from the Idol Chatter blog:

  • Devin Johnson of Columbus, Ga., is “a senior at Hardaway High, but the 17-year-old has already been to the Idol heights…last year he made it to Hollywood…into the group round, where they stick the contestants into impromptu groups and make them rehearse routines with strangers, so they often survive or fail because of the abilities of others. Tough gig. Anyway, Devin, who sang the Luther Vandross version of A House Is Not a Home and the Donny Hathaway version of For All We Know, said, ‘I was much less nervous this time.’ Asked about skipping a day of classes, he said, ‘They know why I’m here. They’re rooting for me.'”
  • Craig Pullem, 26, from Broadview, Ill., “flew down for the audition to recapture past glory. He made it to Hollywood in Season 4, but ‘I lost last year’ in the Chicago auditions; ‘I didn’t make it past round one. I can’t say it’s easier now thatn it was then.’ This year he thinks he’s got a good shot, having passed the first round by singing two showcases for ’50s teen star Frankie Lymon, The ABC’s of Love and the standard Goody Goody. His goal: ‘I want to be the fat Justin Timberlake.'” 
  • Heather Reed, a 20-year-old student at Georgia’s Gainesville State College, “regularly sings at the Lakewood Baptist Church in Gainesville before as many as 3, 000 people. She found the audition a tougher challenge. ‘I thought I would relax, but it’s a lot easier to sing in front of 3, 000 people instead of two, ‘ she said. ‘It was very nerve-wracking and exciting.’ Urged to try out by friends who were “bugging me to do it for five years, ” Heather sang Sara Evans’ Born to Fly and the gospel tune It Is Well with My Soul.”
  • Jason Qualls, 23, “a photographer/graphic designer from Birmingham, displayed a varied musical palette. He sang Keith Urban’s country ballad Tonight I Want to Cry, The Temptations’ My Girl and, fittingly, Sweet Home Alabama. ‘It was cool, ‘ he said, ‘because the judges would give me something to shoot for.’ He explained that when asking for another song, the judges asked him to vary the tempo and style. ‘It was an experience.'”