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IDOL WATCH: The Charlotte Auditions


Tonight on American Idol, the judges rolled into Charlotte, North Carolina in hopes to find the next big talent. The episode kicked off with footage off the long speculated fued between Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj. As everyone knows however, the show must go on and that it did.

First up was amature fashion designer Noami Morris who sang a not so great rendition of Aretha Franklin's Respect. Like most contestants on the show, she blamed her weak vocals on nerves. Noami got a second chance with a different song, but unfortunately the results were the same. It was a unanimous no, but the female judges were very excited about borrowing her handmade clothes.

Brian Rittenberry,27 with a 5 year old son, brought the first emotional story of the night. Although doing well now, his wife was diagnosed with stage 4 appendix cancer. Brian sang a safe but good cover of Let it Be. With a powerful voice and such smoothness, there was no doubt that Brian would receive his ticket to Hollywood.

Jimmy Smith from Tennessee was my personal favorite from Charlotte. Inspired by judge Keith Urban, Jimmy sang God Bless the Broken Road by Rascal Flatts. He had perfect tone and control. Jimmy's soft country voice sent him to Hollywood with four yes's.

There was a long streak of contestants who earned their tickets to Hollywood. Then there came Matthew. Matthew Muse who said he "plays to the crowd" when he gets a chance to sing at karoake bars believed that he would be the next American Idol. A lot of people compare him to Brad Paisley so naturally he sang a song by the country star. It is safe to say that Mr. Paisley's country singing career is safe.

Next up was 16 year old Isabelle Gonzalez who was nominated by her aunt to be invited to audition. Randy Jackson paid Isabelle a visit and gave her an audition number. The southern belle had a voice that had just the right amount of softness and power that got her the golden ticket.

Towards the end of the first day of auditions drama unfolded among the judges when they could not seem to agree on who was deserving of moving onto the Hollywood rounds.

This lead to the final contestant of the first day of Charlotte auditons, Summer Cunningham. The 20 year old sang Lean on Me. I thought it was worthy of a trip to Hollywood and so did all 4 judges. However, a tift began after Summer made a comment about country music. At the center of the argument was of course Mariah and Nicki causing Miss Minaj to leave the room.

The second day of Charlotte auditions brought naval reservist Brandy Hamilton. She sang an Etta James song and had a good voice but nothing special that will separate her from the hundreds of others she will meet in Hollywood.

Don't judge a book by its' cover when it comes to Ashley Smith. The spunky African American blonde with black glasses came out of the gates with a strong audition. She sang a song by Carrie Underwood and boy, did she do it justice. It was clear that she was a diamond in the rust and she deservingly will be seen in Hollywood.

Other than the entertaining auditions, Nicki has started the trend of giving nicknames to all of the contestants based on their appearance. From names like Collard Greens to Bunny, Nicki is proving herself to not only be a judge of singing but also apparel.

Hailed "The Voice of Charlotte," street basker Rodney Barber who was homeless just four years ago gave an excellent audition. Singing I'll Be by Edwin McCain, Barber definitely lives up to his nickname. He is truly an inspiration to to those who strive for something more.

One thing that I noticed about Charlotte is that there were more good auditions that bad. At this stage of the show, it is arguable that much of the audience tunes into see the over confident contestants who can not hold a note to save their life. Hopefully we will see more of these types of auditions simply just to get a good laugh.

The final contestant in Charlotte was hairstylist and mother, Seretha Guinn. She brought her young daughter into the audition room to meet her "best friend Nicki Minaj." Out of the females that auditioned she was by far my favorite singing her own version The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Hopefully we will see her for a long time to come.

Thirty-seven Idol hopefuls are making their way from Charlotte to Hollywood. Tune into American Idol tomorrow night as the show roles into Louisiana. Check out for videos and video recaps.

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