It only takes one day to change the rest of your life! Thousands of hopefulls take to the streets of Nashville for a chance to become the next American Idol. Credit: Michael Becker / FOX.
Could the next "American Idol" be in Fort Oglethorpe, Ga.?
Spoiler lists on numerous pop-culture websites and "AI" fan sites are reporting that Lauren Suddeth, a sophomore cheerleader at Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School, has made it to the Top 40 round of semifinalists on Fox's reality TV talent show.
Viewers can tune in tonight (Fox, 8 p.m.) to see how local talents fared among the 16,000 aspiring singers who flocked to Nashville in mid-July with hopes of advancing on America's favorite television show.
Singers who passed through three rounds of preliminary judging in Bridgestone Arena were eligible to return in October to sing before celebrity judges Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson. Of 16,000 who went to Nashville last summer, just 150 auditioned before the judges in the fall.
Among the thousands were country-music royalty. The granddaughter of Loretta Lynn and the son of Joe Diffie were among those auditioning, Jackson said in a Nashville interview.
Keep an eye out for these singers:
* Lauren Suddeth: According to reports on poptower.com, IdolPhenomena, emusicality.com, mjsbigblog.com and joesplaceblog.com, the LFO sophomore not only made it to Hollywood but continued to advance into semifinalist rounds.
These spoiler sites have included online links to videos of Suddeth singing in previous talent shows and at a 2009 rally in support of using Bible verses on signs at LFO football games.
Contestants who make it to the Hollywood round, and their families, sign a strict confidentiality agreement that results in expulsion from the contest should they discuss the show or their success before it airs.
Attempts to contact Suddeth's family have been unsuccessful. School administrators said they could neither confirm nor deny reports of the student's success.
* Marie Codrington: Catch this 22-year-old's post-audition interview on YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=RovgXCKS6uw. She is an employee of a local auto parts store.
Codrington passed through the first preliminary round in the arena. She said she sang "Sugar, We're Goin' Down" by Fall Out Boy and "Ain't Too Proud To Beg" by The Temptations.
* Karley Moon: This 21-year-old is a student of theater directors Rex Knowles and Sherry Landrum at Chattanooga State Community College. You can also find her post-audition interview on YouTube by searching under her name.
Moon was the last person on the first day to audition for judges, after arriving at 4 a.m. and waiting 16 hours.
"We didn't get registered for the competition until about 1 a.m. the day of auditions because I had a show to do at the Chattanooga Choo Choo the night before. My dad and I drove up after the show," she said in an e-mail.
Since they had to be back in line at the arena at 4 a.m., the two decided checking into a hotel would be pointless. After obtaining the armband required for arena entry, Moon said she tried to get a few hours sleep in the car, but nerves kept her awake as much as commotion from the nearby downtown clubs.
Back in line before dawn, Moon said, she waited outside for four hours.
"It was not hot outside, being the crack of dawn, which was great. The hard part was standing for that long. There were so many people that you really could not move. Finally, we started to go inside ... and they showed us where we were sitting. I was in the last section."
Moon said she waited in the arena 12 hours before getting her chance to sing. She said a few contestants fainted and some expressed anger over the wait, but overall it was calm and organized.
"To me, it was beautiful -- 16,000 people coming together because of one dream. I think that's awesome. Lots of people were trying to get some sleep anywhere they could find. People were spread out all over the stands, in the hallways, in the aisles even."
Moon said she and her dad watched auditions as they waited.
"If you were passed through, you went out one way, and if you did not get passed, you went out another. We watched most people go out the door that told them their 'American Idol' experience was over. While I was sitting there, waiting the 16 hours, I was constantly second-guessing my song choice," she said.
After waiting 16 hours, Moon said she almost didn't get the chance to perform.
"The producer asked me how old I was. I am only 4 feet, 10 inches. You have to be at least 15 to be in the competition," she said. "I told her I was 20 and she asked to see my birth certificate. Finally she believed me, and we laughed a bit about it."
Moon's group of four sang together, then she was asked to sing alone. After singing "Broken Wing" by Martina McBride, the producer asked her to sing something more modern, so she belted Carrie Underwood's hit "Last Name."
Even though Moon said she improvised half the lyrics, the producer was impressed enough to pass her through to the second preliminary round. The others were told that they weren't what "AI" was looking for.
Moon said she didn't make it past the second round, but still calls her trip an "awesome experience."
"Thirty hours of no sleep, 16 hours just waiting, all to sing for 30 seconds. Was it worth it? You bet."
Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...