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‘American Idol’ premieres tonight. Here’s one success story you won’t see on TV

Collin DeClerk, production assistant, tries to get the crowd excited while filming before “American Idol” auditions outside of the Northwest Community Center in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019.
Collin DeClerk, production assistant, tries to get the crowd excited while filming before “American Idol” auditions outside of the Northwest Community Center in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

“American Idol” is back.

The long-running singing competition returns Sunday night for its third season on ABC and its 18th season overall.

When does ‘American Idol’ premiere?

  • The two-hour season premiere airs Sunday, Feb. 16 at 7 p.m. MST.
  • The episode will show auditions from Savannah, Georgia; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; and Sunriver, Oregon, according to Americanidol.net.
  • Singers Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan are back as judges on the new season, along with host Ryan Seacrest.
  • Those auditioning in tonight’s episode include a subway performer from Harlem, New York, a garbage collector from Georgia and a singer who gets a “ fairy tale twist” during her audition, according to Americanidol.net.

But there’s one “American Idol” success story you won’t see on the show this season.

My story

  • I auditioned for “American Idol” last August. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience I previously wrote about for the Deseret News. I never thought in a million years I’d audition for the show, which at its peak had 30 million viewers. I love to sing but I’m insecure about my voice.
  • But auditions came to Salt Lake City — just 2 miles away from my work — and with my age of eligibility soon expiring, I knew this was my only shot.
  • So at 6:45 a.m. on a Thursday, with my hot pink guitar case in hand, I joined the large mass of aspiring pop stars. I thought 6:45 a.m. was early, but one singer had arrived at 3:30 a.m. to claim the very first spot in line.
Lottie Johnson, Deseret News arts and entertainment assistant editor, plays guitar while waiting for American Idol auditions at the Northwest Community Center in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019.
Lottie Johnson, Deseret News arts and entertainment assistant editor, plays guitar while waiting for “American Idol” auditions at the Northwest Community Center in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
  • After 2 hours of waiting outside, the line moved indoors. Even in a competitive environment like “American Idol,” there was a sense of community. People took the time to root for each other, perhaps because they understood each other, I previously wrote. They were all going through the same thing, and they knew the bravery it takes to follow the “American Idol” dream.
  • After 3½ hours of waiting in line, my moment came. I was put in a group with three other singers. We all entered the room of “American Idol” producers together.
  • The guy in front of me was amazing. He sang Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy,” and he was so good that I nudged the woman to my left, hoping she might take pity on me and go next. (No such luck).
  • I stepped forward and sang “Amazing Grace” to the tune of “House of the Rising Sun.” I sang for maybe 30 seconds.
  • Long story short: You’re not looking at the next “American Idol.” But the most surprising part of my audition is what happened next.
  • Because even though I had been rejected, I couldn’t stop smiling. I looked so happy that people were even coming up to me and asking if I had made it to the next round.
Lottie Johnson, Deseret News arts and entertainment assistant editor, plays guitar while waiting for “American Idol’ auditions outside of the Northwest Community Center in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019.
Lottie Johnson, Deseret News arts and entertainment assistant editor, plays guitar while waiting for “American Idol’ auditions outside of the Northwest Community Center in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
  • “No,” I said giddily. “But I’m so glad I tried out.”
  • And I was. I had proved to myself that I had grown in confidence and wasn’t as afraid of what others thought about my singing voice. And that’s something I’ve wanted to achieve for a long, long time.

Why is ‘American Idol’ so successful?

  • At my audition I got a chance to talk to Brett McCosker, the supervising producer for “American Idol.” He told me that “American Idol,” which first premiered June 2002 — and has gone on to inspire several similar shows in the industry — continues to be successful because it represents the American dream.

“It’s this idea that you can do a thing, and if you do it well enough, you can be rich and famous doing it,” McCosker told the Deseret News outside of the “American Idol” tour bus. “Some of these reality shows (might) not capitalize on it, but they encourage it. It kind of ties to this audition tour we’re doing; we’re in Salt Lake City, we’re about to go to Colorado Springs, we’re about to go to Wichita. People in those places believe in that dream and we want to encourage it, this idea that you can be rich and famous doing the thing that you love doing.”

Read more about the show’s success and history here.