Savannah’s American Idol Experience
Have you ever wanted to do something so badly, but it seemed you would never get the chance? I’ve dreamed of auditioning for the American Idol Experience at Disney Hollywood Studios ever since it opened in 2009. There was always a reason why I couldn’t do it; I wasn’t old enough or my parents wanted to go to a different Disney park. Just when I was about to let go of my dream, I finally got the chance to do it a few weeks ago.
You see, my parents began planning a weekend trip to Disney. At first, they wanted to go check out the new attractions at The Magic Kingdom. Then, we all wondered if the Christmas lights were up at Hollywood Studios. While I was looking on line for an answer, my mom asked if I was old enough yet for the American Idol Experience. I immediately forgot all about the Christmas lights and started researching the age requirement. Once I knew I was old enough, I convinced my parents to go to Hollywood Studios the next day.
We arrived at the park around noon. I immediately headed over to the American Idol Experience building. Not knowing exactly where I needed to go, I saw two Disney cast members and decided to ask them for directions. As I approached them, one guy smiled and asked, “Are you ready to audition?” Feeling excited, I said, “Yes.” After asking my name and age he explained because I am a minor I would have to have a parent with me at all times, but only one parent because of limited space. Once my mom agreed to go with me, the guy wrote my name on a button with a “Discovered” ribbon attached to it. Then, he circled the audition building on a map and handed it to me along with the button to wear. At that point he wished me luck and sent me on my way saying, “I hope to see you on stage!”
As my mom and I stood silently waiting for my turn outside the audition building, my mind started to wander. Suddenly, my excitement turned to extreme nervousness as the thought Am I good enough began to creep into my head. My mom must have sensed my uneasiness because she smiled and said, “Remember this is Disney. They want you to have fun here!” That helped me calm down a little.
About ten minutes later, a friendly woman opened the door and invited us inside. Then, she showed me a short video of Ryan Seacrest talking about American Idol. After that, she explained I would have to sing a song of my choice a cappella for a Disney casting director. Then, she ushered me in and introduced me to the casting director.
Tension was racing back into every muscle of my body as the spikey haired blond woman looked sternly over her glasses at me while I sang The Beatles Oh Darling. As soon as I finished, she said, “I really like your voice, but you need to work on your breath control.” Knowing I wasn’t going to make it to the stage and afraid my voice would crack I just nodded in agreement. Then she said, “I want you to sing it again and breathe!” I sang it again, feeling hopeful and being sure to breathe. Next, she had me choose two songs from their list. Since they make you sing it in the original key I was having trouble deciding. I told the director I could sing Patsy Cline’s Walking after Midnight because I grew up listening to that one and also The Climb by Miley Cyrus. She said, “Well, Disney thinks you are too young to be walking after midnight, young lady. I think American Honey by Lady Antebellum would be perfect for your voice.” Although I had never sung it, I had heard the song and agreed to give it a try. Then, I sang The Climb. Afterward, she pulled out an American Idol lanyard and pinned a number on my shirt saying, “You are going to the next audition!”
The second audition was in the office of a Disney producer in front of a camera. I sang the two songs with a microphone and music while he stared at the computer on his desk. He never looked up at me, but I noticed a bit of a smile once I started singing. That helped me relax. After I finished he had a very serious tone when he said, “ Three hundred people a day audition and only fifteen ever make it to the stage show in front of an audience so be proud of yourself for making it this far. You are definitely going to the stage so congratulations!” Then, he gave me a card with my instructions and a time to come back for the show. He opened the door and a group of employees were in the hallway applauding. Needless to say, my mom and I raced outside to tell my dad the results.
When the time came for me to report to the backstage door a cast member invited me to come in and have a seat, offered me water or hot tea. A few minutes later, a lady took me to the hair and make-up room for a touch up. Next, I went to see the vocal coach who offered a few suggestions. After a quick rehearsal on stage, it was show time! My mom gave me a quick hug and said, “Just go out there and have fun!” I’ll spare you all the performance details and just let you know I won the preliminary round. That meant I could compete in the finale show!
Once I was back stage with the other four contestants, we were informed there would be no rehearsal for the finale. I suddenly realized I had no idea what level of competition I was up against. I debated in my head whether or not I really wanted to go through with the show. Who was I kidding, of course I was going through with it because it had been my dream. After everyone had performed on stage, we had to wait back stage while the audience voted. That’s when I got a little worried because the competition was phenomenal.
It wasn’t long before we were all called to the stage for the results. First two contestants were eliminated together. Then, the host called my name tricking me into believing I was being eliminated as well. After he said I would have to wait a little longer for the results he eliminated a third contestant. Then, it was down to just one other person and me. The host looked at his card and announced, “The winner chosen by the most audience votes is Savannah Brady!” I stood there in complete shock as gold confetti rained down on me. After that, I was escorted backstage with my parents to sign paper work and receive my prize. In case you don’t know, the prize for winning the finale show is a “Dream” ticket. Seriously, that’s what it is called and my name is printed on it! This ticket will allow me to go to the front of the line at a real American Idol Audition!
It still feels unreal, but please don’t wake me if I’m dreaming because as Walt Disney said, “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”
Savannah Brady’s Bio:
15 years old, Savannah has studied violin for nine years and guitar for almost two years. Her violin teacher is Cynthia Wiley and her guitar teacher is Jimi Gee. She has attended several Suzuki Violin workshops and Sarasota Youth Orchestra’s Summer with the Symphony programs. Savannah enjoys playing music and tries to take advantage of every opportunity to perform. She has played violin with the North Port Symphony Orchestra, performed in Ladies Sing the Blues, and is a member of the Jimi Gee Jr. All-Stars. Savannah’s most recent accomplishment was receiving her third gold cup for earning superior scores at the district festival through the Florida Federation of Music Clubs. You can find Savannah playing and singing around the community at various venues. She will also be playing at USF Sarasota-Manatee on January 2, 2014 as part of the PMP/Suncoast Super Strings along with the PMP string Orchestra under the baton of Itzhak Perlman.