Think way back. Way, way back to American Idol season 8. There was a contestant named Casey Carver who got through to Hollywood on middling voice. But as judge Kara DioGuardi noted the pretty 20 year old was a “package.” Her looks and charm propelled her all the way to the Top 36, where she crashed spectacularly. Her pitch impaired performance of “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic” garnered harsh critiques from the panel. Needless to say she was cut.
These days, Casey is a popular Instagram influencer who goes by the moniker “Quigley.” And she has A LOT to say about her time on American Idol:
I FINALLY OPEN UP ABOUT MY AMERICAN IDOL JOURNEY. Exactly ten years ago today I was kicked off of season 8 of American Idol. I was 20 years old… and I was told on national television that my performance was “ALL WRONG” by the judges. Even Paula couldn’t think of a nice thing to say. There might have been mention of how I looked “pretty” or “cute” but it was clear they thought that I was not a good enough singer or performer to be on the show. I was heart broken and humiliated. I went home to Minnesota feeling lost and confused and so unsure of what the future held for me. It took years before I was able to perform again- to sing again… to put myself out there.
The thing is. That Top 36 performance WAS dreadful. Sure, the judges could have used softer language to deliver the news. But setting the harsh language aside, the judges ALL offered useful critiques, that if heeded, would have made her a better artist going forward.
Here is Casey’s audition.
And that disastrous Top 36 performance
Casey eventually returned to LA to give music another go. But in the end, the pressure was too much.
But finally, I decided to move to LA and just SEE what would happen. Somehow I managed to get a meeting with Larry Rudolph- who was Britney Spears manager at the time and he told me that if I played my cards right “American Idol would be a FOOTNOTE in my bio.” I’ll never forget that day. Until then, I thought I would never be able to be BIGGER than the show. I let the show define me… it was the STAR of my story. But on that day, I realized it was MY STORY- and I needed to write myself back into it. I put my whole heart into my music. I wrote hundreds of songs in years. I performed in arenas and on stages in front of thousands of people.
But I still hung onto a lot of pain- deep down inside I felt like as a woman… the only piece of value I brought to this world was on the “outside.” The clips of men on TMZ talking about how I looked in a Swimsuit haunted me.
Casey does have a point about the way the show sexualized her. TMZ did an entire segment about her bikini photos.
Her inability to handle criticism from the judges was an early sign. Casey could not find a way to comfortably navigate the cutthroat music business. Only artists with a thick skin and determination to make it in a tough business survive in the end.
Writing sessions with a different man every week exhausted me. I felt like success in the music industry would only lead me to more pain. So I slowly pulled away… part of it was fear- but part of it was my heart aching to be free of the pressure to “make it.” I’m not sure I’ll ever make music or sing with the same joy I did as a child. But my purpose has shifted now… I don’t need success or fame or a stage to WRITE. My message is and always has been to lead with LOVE and empower women, and now INSTAGRAM is my stage. I couldn’t feel more full looking back on how far I’ve come in ten years.
But finally, she found her home on Instagram, Casey doesn’t even need to leave her house! Well, looking at her feed, which is a mix of fashion and life advice, she obviously DOES leave her house. But she’s found a space that allows her to thrive sans most of the b*llsh*t that comes with careers in show business. So good for her.