Thursday, January 20, 2011

Six Things I Learned From the American Idol Auditions: One Mom's Perspective

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Johnny Drennan, Olivia Drennan
(Photo courtesy: Drennan Family)
It doesn't get much more exciting than having a family member journey through the American Idol audition process. But what if it's two family members? And what if they are your son and daughter?

My friend Cherie Drennan (meet her HERE) is not only an inventor, entrepreneur, and lighting designer, she's a mother of five. Two of the five, son Johnny and daughter Olivia, wanted to try out for American Idol this season. Although auditions for the show were held in Nashville, scheduling conflicts sent them all the way to New Orleans for their shot at a golden ticket to Hollywood. You'll have to watch the show tonight on FOX to see how the kids did (and actually, there is no guarantee that their tryouts will be shown), but I asked Cherie to shed some light on the American Idol experience from a mother's perspective, and talk about what she's learned.

Don’t Close Any Doors. Cherie knows all about chasing dreams. After all, she founded her own company, ChandiCharms. How did she feel when her kids wanted to chase some dreams of their own? "I want them to chase their dreams, absolutely," she says emphatically. "My daughter has always wanted to do music, but she didn't know that this year, American Idol was accepting 15-year-olds. Of course, she wanted to go for it. Johnny was always playing sports growing up, and he loved it, but music was his real passion. Now that he’s older, that’s what he wants to pursue.

"I think kids should try a lot of things," she continues. "My regret would be that we focused so much on sports that we didn’t have time for him to pursue music. The schedule was too full. So I would tell other parents: Don’t close any doors. See what doors God is going to open for you. Everyone specializes so much today, in sports or in music, or dance. Let your child try many different things."

It is serious business. After watching the show for years, I wanted to know what the auditions were really like. "It's really serious," Cherie told me. "There are young people there who have worked for this all their lives. You see the desire in their eyes, and if they don't make it, when they come out of that room, they are so devastated."


It is the most nerve-wracking thing ever. I really can't imagine going through AI with one child, let alone two! What was it like, experiencing the show as a mom, with your heart, your emotions, your babies--all out there at once? "Everybody is nervous," Cherie acknowledges. "It is the most nerve-wracking time for family members that I have ever been through. All the nerves you could ever imagine all rolled up into one. The contestants are wondering where they fit in among all that talent, and if they are going to make it. And their families are wondering the same thing. There are so many people. But AI is like a well-oiled machine after all this time. They know where everyone is and where everyone is supposed to go; they know what they are doing, even when no one else does!"

What you see is what you get. So how much of a real experience are we getting when we're watching the show at home? And how surreal was it to actually be there and see it all, live and in person? "It’s very surreal because you see it on TV, and then you see it in person," Cherie notes of her experience. "But what you see on TV is really what you get. Things may be out of sequence, of course, and cut and edited, but for the most part, what you see is exactly what you get. They don’t put make up on those kids or tell them how to dress. They are what they are—in that raw state. And everybody wants to do well."

Friendships are formed fast in the trenches. To have such a unique, cultural experience is to be set apart from anyone who wasn't there with you. How do you process? Cherie explains, "One thing you do see a lot of is that you do see friendships made quickly. The contestants are going through something that so few people get to experience firsthand. It makes for really quick bonds."

There is no defining the IT factor. "Oh, you've got to have the "it" factor," Cherie readily concedes. "And it's something you can't put your finger on. It's special. Voice is part of it, but it is definitely not everything."

We've got our DVR set, hopeful to see the Drennans' familiar faces on the show tonight! Are you an AI fan? Are you watching the show this year? Why or why not?


Rebecca
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3 comments:

Kelly Combs said...

I wish them well and hope that things go well! Even if they don't make it through, if they get to meet JLo, Steven Tyler or The Dawg, that will be pretty cool.

Thanks for sharing!

Kris @ WUHS and Eclipsed said...

How cool. We'll have to watch for them tonight. We're definitely watching this season. My oldest got us hooked on it last year. We'd never watched before then. We're missing Simon already.

Rebecca Ingram Powell said...

Hey ladies,

It will definitely be different without Simon. We've started watching during the season of Carrie & Bo, but the past couple of years have not seemed as intense, and we haven't really watched much at all. We loved David Archuleta and David Cook, a few years back. We're hoping this year will be a lot of fun! New for us this year is the presence of a DVR, which means we can fast forward through FOX's raunchy commercials, :)as well as any other raunchiness!

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