Stevie Rae Stephens, a 2009 Livermore High graduate, recaps her recent experience competing in the American Idol television competition.
Previous Patch posts:
- Livermore Musician Advances in American Idol
- Livermore Musician Eliminated From American Idol
What was your mindset and expectations heading into the competition?
Originally, it was just something to do over the summer. Thousands of people audition for this every year, and I had no expectations or thoughts at all simply because the odds are so against you at that point. You can't let yourself down if you don't expect a particular outcome.
Was this something you have planned on for a while (competing on American Idol)? Why did you decide to enter the competition?
I did not plan on auditioning because I am so invested in school and my music recording and technology degree, which I will be recieving this May with academic honors. I recieved a call from my close singing friend a few days before the trip down to LA and the whole experience was pretty spontaneous after that. I haven't been competing for a while now and knowing that my competitive performance and singing skills might be a bit rusty, I went for fun and the experience.
Please provide a brief play-by-play on what is was like competing and advancing in the competition? Were you nervous at all?
In the first audition, I was dumbfounded when the auditioner shook my hand and told me that I deserve to be further in this competition. It was a special moment for me since I decided to do away with the typical singing audition attitude and just be myself. I wore my hair up, my favorite capris, one of my favorite t-shirts, and flip flops. I even sang an original song, which can be audition suicide because the auditioners have no reference of the song. With each round of auditions, I became more and more shocked and overcome with fear, excitement, thankfulness, and sometimes stress (some rounds took place during my finals). I was slightly more nervous than usual during the judges round, but Mariah Carey gave me an off-camera thumbs up and said, "You're going to do so good." My nerves faded away as I took in her words.
I became the most excited and nervous during the second Hollywood round because I was going on a total of four hours of sleep in two days and mental exhaustion was getting the best of me as I tried to learn the group song in a matter of hours. I've never experienced something so absolutely draining. Lucky for me, my group was amazing and I am currently in touch with them talking about doing some covers together.
What did you sing and why did you choose that/those song(s)?
I sang Gravity, by Sara Barielles and Water and a Flame, by Daniel Merriwether and Adele for my solos. These songs capture all the best parts of my voice and are easy for me to connect with. Half the skill in playing any instrument is the emotion you portray when you perform. I love these songs and musicians, so the songs were good choices for me.
What did you learn from this experience?
There are a lot of amazing voices out there. If you're going to make it in this business through a competition like this, you have to be ready to give it everything you have. You have to want it and stop at nothing to get it.
What are your career goals?
I am currently applying to graduate school for my Master's in music and recording technology. I want to contine to grow as a musician and composer and hopefully open my own recording studio someday. Other days, I want nothing more than to find my way back on a stage doing musical theater and the like. I want to continue writing and finding ways to perform as much as I can.
What's next for you now in terms of your music career?
Good question, every day I learn something new about myself and my musicality. As I work toward my Master's, I'll continue to sculpt all my talents so that I can do a variety of things in music.
Talk about how your family has supported you while you pursue your music career.
My mom and dad have been there every step of the way and have walked through fire to give me the best opportunities and experiences they can. I love them so much and they are the reason I am where I am today. There is nothing they wouldn't do for me and my goals.
Where can people go to find/get more information on your music?
My personal wedding-singing website can be found at www.yoursongbird.com. Many of my covers and originals are posted on my YouTube at www.youtube.com/stevierae13. I have songs at soundcloud https://soundcloud.com/stevierae13.
Anything else you'd like to add?
I get to graduate with my degree this May and I made the top 75 singers in the country. I feel like a winner!