|Johnny Drennan, Olivia Drennan|
(Photo courtesy: Drennan Family)
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?
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