A teen who grew up on Signal Mountain was featured Wednesday night on “American Idol” and made the cut.
Melanie Porras, 19, an administrative assistant now living in Kennesaw, Ga., got one of the golden tickets to the show’s Hollywood round after judge Jennifer Lopez told her: “I can hear you recording records records. I haven’t said that to anyone this season.”
On her website, Porras, who moved away from Signal Mountain during her ninth-grade year in 2008, says she wants “to set an example for those who feel like they have nothing or no one to help them, which is everyone at some point in their life.”
Before she sang on “American Idol,” host Ryan Seacrest introduced her with one of the show’s videos that gives a contestant’s backstory. In it, Porras revealed that her dad was a former rocker who played and toured in California before giving up that life to raise her as a single dad for the first five years of her life. He taught her to play guitar, and she said music has always been their bond.
“As a child I was a very lonely person but music has always been my best friend,” Porras writes on her website. “I never felt that I had a true friend to talk to and as a result I released my feelings through my poetry. My poetry gave me confidence in my writing which eventually led me to write music after learning how to play the guitar at 11.”
On “Idol,” Porras accompanied herself on guitar as she sang “Fever,” the Top 10 hit from 1958 by singer Peggy Lee. Lopez thought it was a safe choice and asked to hear a second number without the guitar. The teen then gave a soulful interpretation of Bon Jovi’s “Dead or Alive” that clearly impressed the judges.
“You’re really cool,” judge Keith Urban told her.
Judge Harry Connick Jr. said Porras clearly had the fundamentals — or “seeds” — to make it this season.
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 ...