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Gospel Soundcheck

Join me here tonight for the Atlanta auditions from Season 9 of American Idol, with guest judge Mary J. Blige.
7:44 PM – while we’re waiting for Idol to begin, why not take a minute to check out this post about Haiti’s earthquake and the Hands & Feet Project, founded by Audio Adrenaline? They could use your prayers.
8:00 PM – Tonight we’re seeing auditions from Atlanta, where Fantasia, Clay Aiken, Jennifer Hudson and our own host Ryan Seacrest hail from. There are 10,000 folks ready to sing for Randy, Kara, Simon and guest judge Mary J Blige.


First up, Dewone Robinson, a 27 year old sales associate (translation: wears a name tag to work) singing his own composition. Simon says it might be the worst song ever written. One up, one out.
During the break: My David says I’m too snarky about the sob stories featured during the show. Sigh. I’m not snarky about the contestants; they don’t have any control over how Idol exploits their life stories for ratings.
We’re back, with 26 year old marketing representative Kia Johnson from Memphis, TN. After some banter with Simon about competing in the Miss American contest and winning Miss Congeniality, she sings “My Heart Goes On” and wins over the judges. Simon may not be as wowed by her voice as the others (I don’t know why; she was great) but they like her personality and her voice and on to Hollywood she goes.
After a few quick peeks at some female singers who made it through – Noel Reese, Tisha Holland and Miriam Lemnouni – 26 year old Jermaine Sellers is up with not only great voice but a … story … viewers can get behind. (See, I didn’t call it a sob story.) Sellers is a church singer from Joilet, IL; he cares for him mom, who has spina bifida. He sang Joan Osborne’s “What If God Was One of Us” – Randy said, “This kid is hot” and Mary J Blige said it was anointed. Jermaine should sound great: he was a finalist on the 2007 season of Sunday Best, the gospel Idol-esque competition that airs on BET.
And now for a little color, from Atlanta talk show hostess Christie Marie Agronow. She seems like she’s doing a caricture of herself. Waay over the top.
I LOVE this next girl, 19 year old bridge-jumping Vanessa Wolfe, from Vonore TN, who came to her audition wearing a dress she tells America she got for $4.50 from the Dollar Store. She’s a simple country girl from smack dab in the middle of nowhere with a heart as big as Texas and a voice fit for country music. Simon said she was “incredibly ill-prepared” for Idol because she was nervous but he really liked her, calling her distinct and authentic. They told her to develop some confidence and get ready for Hollywood. This is the kind of contestant I love – sweet, humble, genuine, and ready for anything. As she said, “What’s life without a risk or two?”
Unfortunately, Jesse Hamilton from Anniston, AL gives a Garth Brook’s song a shot, after explaining that he’s almost died three times – depicted in a fake reenactment videos. poor Jesse; Mary went into total laughing fits before he even sang a note.
Twenty year old Holly Harden brings a Kelly Pickler-esque sound to the auditions, along with her Guitar Girl costume. Normally, a girl dressed like a human guitar would get an immediate boot, but she belted out Loretta Lynn’s “You Ain’t Woman Enough to Take My Man” like a pro. All of the judges – except Mary, who said, “I don’t get it” – sent her through. Atlanta is offering up some good country singers.
After a montage of horror shows, 20 year old Mallorie Haley from Winner, SD wins over the judges, who like not only her voice but her look. Which isn’t surprising, since she resembles Carrie Underwood more than a little bit.
After the break we’re treated – and I use the term lightly – to a goofy guy who calls himself Skii Bo Ski – aka Antonio Wheeler. Personality? A joke. Singing? Really good. Simon said no but the others sent him through, with Randy’s advice to lose the nonsense. This guy is creepy weird.
Up next are Carmen Turner and Lauren Sander, best friends forever, auditioning together. Which is always bad news. Simon says that they should be in a group because together they’re hysterical but apart they’re boring. He says they should form a group, The Ditz Sisters. Carmen makes it through, Lauren doesn’t, with Simon saying he would have said no to both. He offers Lauren some comfort: “If it’s any consolation, I don’t think you’re going to be away from her for too long.”
Up next is the 25-year-old singing police officer, Brian Walker, from Sevierville, TN. Walker sang one of my favorite songs, “Superstar” and hit it out of the park. Randy hit it on the head with his comment: “You look nothing like what you sound like. Love the fake out!” On to Hollywood, officer!
Twenty-year-old Lamar Royal frustrates the judges when they reject his Idol attempt but try to give him some advice because they don’t think he necessarily has a bad voice. Royal throws a temper tantrum and goes on a bit of a rage, proving that more than a good voice, contestants really need some humility.
We end the Atlanta auditions with 62 year old veteran General Larry Platt singing his song, “Pants On The Ground”, complete with some break dancing.
And there you have it: 25 contestants went through to Hollywood. Mary J Blige did a great job as guest celebrity judge. Did you have a favorite tonight?
RELATED POSTS:
American Idol contestant Justin Williams was also a Season 8 contestant
Boston Auditions – blogging live play-by-play
Boston Auditions – recap
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