Since “American Idol”’s television debut in 2002, aspiring artists have dreamed of receiving a “golden ticket” and starting down the path to win the title.
Like former Belmont students and finalists Kimberly Locke before them, recent Belmont alumnus Griffin Peterson and senior Rachel Hale both went through season 12 auditions and made it into the next round. Although the duo didn’t advance into this year’s live shows, both said the experience was something they didn’t regret.
Peterson, who graduated in December with a degree in music business, auditioned on July 12 in Chicago, mostly because of the encouragement he received from his family and co-workers, Peterson said.
“It was a last minute thing. The auditions were in Chicago on Thursday, and I just decided to go on that Friday before,” he said.
After singing “Washed by the Water” and flirting with new judge Nicki Minaj, Peterson was voted on to Hollywood for the next round. His journey ended in Hollywood, but he has no regrets about it said Peterson.
“The only thing I would have done different is practice more,” he said.
Meeting other contestants that were as involved in music as he was was a great part of the experience, he said. Coming face-to-face with the celebrity judges was a bit nerve-wrecking, and he said he was even a little weirded out by some of them.
Everything is not always as it seems, and Peterson had to learn that that is true with reality television.
“It was different than I expected, I learned the reality of it all,” said Peterson, “It is definitely not as real as they make it seem. They had me walk out of the door several times to get the right angle, it was kind of depressing.”
Being a Belmont graduate gave him the opportunity to develop his style and voice, which gave him an advantage during the show, said Peterson.
His advice to “Idol” hopefuls is simple.
“Pick good songs, practice, be yourself, and don’t try to put on an act.”
Peterson is currently moving forward with his musical career by continuing to write and record music. He will release an EP with in the upcoming months.
Arkansas native Hale auditioned for “American Idol” in California last June.
Hale has been singing since she was 10 years old and was ready to share her music with everyone, she said.
She sang “People Get Ready” for the judges and was given a yes vote by each of the four judges. They all agreed that she had a happy, infectious personality, and Randy Jackson even said she may have been the happiest contestant he had ever met.
“I was really excited to meet the judges,” said Hale, “I loved every minute of it.”
All of the behind the scenes parts of the program came as a surprise to Hale, such as having to go through producers before even meeting the judges, Hale said.
In the Hollywood round, she was constantly on the move, only getting a few hours of sleep in the two days of the competition.
“Hollywood was absolutely insane,” Hale said.
Being able to perform for more than 20 million people was a dream come true she said, and that made the whole experience worth it.
Hale did not advance past the Hollywood rounds but was still glad she particpated, she said.
“I was myself and I wouldn’t do anything different,” said Hale.
Because of the auditions she had to go through at Belmont, she believed she had the upper hand against less experienced contestants.
Hale plans to continue to perform and write as a country/Christian artist. She is currently recording for an album that will be released soon.