SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — The search is on in the Coastal Empire for undiscovered local musical talent as “American Idol” pays a visit to Savannah.
The popular television show has set up auditions in the Perry Lane Hotel, where “Idol” hopefuls will have a chance to audition for the judges both Monday and Tuesday.
The show is currently filming for its 18th season.
“We’ve got about 35 people today, so it’s going to be a busy day,” Patrick Lynn, the senior supervising producer of “American Idol,” told News 3.
“We have a very good track record here,” Lynn said. “In fact, this is the city we found Phillip Phillips in, so we expect great talent here, we always get good talent.”
Those auditioning for the popular televised singing competition gathered on the roof of the Perry Lane Hotel on Monday while they awaited their golden opportunity to wow judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie — and hopefully score that coveted ticket to Hollywood.
“Savannah’s great, I mean, there’s a reason that ‘American Idol’ keeps coming back,” said Bobby Bones, the in-house mentor for “American Idol’s” talent.
The on-air radio personality and host of the nationally syndicated Bobby Bones Show told News 3 that one of the great aspects of the show is that it gives gifted performers a chance to be heard, wherever they’re located.
“I grew up in a really small town in Arkansas,” Bones said, adding that he grew up with little money, especially to try to fly out to audition for a television show.
“’American Idol’ allows people like me, people like a lot of folks in Savannah that probably couldn’t grab a ticket or hotel room in Los Angeles, to actually pursue their dreams,” Bones said.
“We actually go to the people and say, ‘We’re going to come to you, show us how good you are,’ and Savannah never disappoints,” he added.
Georgia Southern University student and Woodstock, Georgia, native Bryce Leatherwood told News 3 he hopes the opportunity to audition will help him take his music career “one step further.”
“I’m extremely excited. It’s a blessing to be here,” said Leatherwood, who has been singing since he could first hold a microphone at 2 years old.
He performs classic country, modern country, soul and R&B, and also plays the acoustic guitar.
“I have my family here supporting me, I have friends here supporting me, and I’m just very blessed,” he said.
First-time auditioner Maggie Renfroe came from Nashville for the Savannah auditions, but originally hails from Macon, Georgia.
“I go to school there, so I came all the way from Nashville,” Renfroe told News 3. “My family met me here from Macon, and we’re just having a great time.”
The singer/songwriter, who tells people that her style is similar to that of Ben Rector, Colbie Caillat and Tori Kelly, says she’s excited to show the judges her skills — and she won’t let a little case of nerves get in the way.
“I’m thinking that maybe right before I go in there, probably a couple of jitters will be the case, but I’m good right now,” she said.
“Just trying to enjoy the day and just go do what I always do, just sing.”