Locals try for their chance at stardom on American Idol

The hit show auditions for its 17th season in Mobile


For Lee Lazzari of Fairhope, it was the chance of a lifetime.

But you know, “whatever happens, happens,” she said calmly in the last few minutes before meeting an American Idol producer and taking her shot at nabbing a spot on the Fox network competition.

On Tuesday, hundreds of people, including dozens from Baldwin County, lined up at GulfQuest in Mobile to sing their way onto the 17th season of the hit show.

Lazzari, a junior at St. Michael’s Catholic High School in Fairhope, said has always loved to sing but upped her game this summer with help from voice coach Gabe Willis at Modern Ensemble Music.

“It’s a good opportunity to take,” she said.

The show’s superstar judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie were not in Mobile this week. Instead, Lazzari sang in a room full of people, several belting out their best, all at the same time to a series of producers who would whittle the crowd.

Lazzari performed Toni Braxton’s “Unbreak My Heart.” Five other hopefuls sang as well. Then, the producer gathered them close to break the news. It was a no.

She motioned her head ‘no’ to her mother, waiting in the wings.

“It’s fine,” she said “It was a good learning experience.”

Olivia Gomillion of Silverhill was sent home as well.

“It was a little nerve wracking and a little scary but once you got in there the judges were really nice,” she said.

It was a no for Azaya Jorgensen, advanced choir student at Foley High School sophomore. And Taylor Knight, 22, of Silverhill was sent packing as well. Though you can catch his soulful sound locally every Sunday at Little Welcome Missionary Baptist Church in Silverhill and shake your head and wonder what those producers were thinking.

Madelyn Merriam, 16, of Fairhope skipped class to stand in the heat and rain for her turn to sing. She said even if she doesn’t end up in front of the microphone, she hopes to work in the music business someday.

Gabrielle Shoub, Spanish Fort High School senior tried to wow the judges with her rendition of “House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals, but alas, she headed back to class as well.

St. Lawrence Catholic Church youth pastor Stephen Sylvester, has been called a force to be reckoned with on the local music scene. You can find him performing almost every weekend at Manci’s, Fairhope Brewing, Moe’s BBQ and everything in between.

At 28-years-old, this is his last chance to meet the show’s contestant age limit. But even Sylvester was denied a place in the final lineup.

Devin Stringer, however, is one of Baldwin County’s stars to watch in the next round of the hit show.

The 23-year-old Robertsdale native and active duty airman came home from his duty station in Florida to attend the auditions.

“It’s something I always wanted to do,” he said. Stringer started playing the guitar about 5 years ago, and earned a seat in the winner’s circle with his version of “In Color” by Jamey Johnson. Producers later asked him to sing several more songs, including one he had written.

Stringer and other local finalists will know in a few weeks if they have made the cut that moves them closer to a spot in front of the celebrity judges and finally, on the televised portion of the show.