Fox’s hit show “American Idol” highlighted the musical talent of a handful of Utah natives as Wednesday night's episode featured auditions that took place in Salt Lake City.
“What else could bring us to the mountains of northern Utah than the chances of finding an American superstar?” asked Ryan Seacrest, the longtime “Idol” host.
The Salt Lake auditions kicked off with a montage of contestants telling about their individual journeys to get to the auditions. One young man said that he quit his job and sold his truck to make the trip.
But Seacrest added, “To make it to Hollywood, they will have to sell their talent to our judges: Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr.”
By the end of the episode, the judges had given golden tickets to 30 musicians from 15 different states, including nine singers from Utah.
Here is a recap of some of the Utah contestants who will be moving on to the next round:
Austin Wolfe, 16, Park City: Wolfe sang “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons. Connick compared her voice to that of Hayley Williams, the lead singer of Paramore, and Urban and Lopez agreed to send Wolfe to the next round.
Tessa Norman, 19, Lindon: Norman sang Jessie J’s “Mamma Knows Best.” “You are a star. OK? I said it,” Lopez said. Norman received three “yes” votes and will move on to the Hollywood round.
Kenzie Hall, 16, Draper: Hall sang “I’m Gonna Find Another You” by John Mayer. She was sent through to Hollywood by all three judges, including Lopez, who pegged Hall as one of her favorites in the competition so far. “You have everything going on,” Lopez said. “And she played a diminished chord!” commented an impressed Connick.
Paisley Van Patten, 25, Salt Lake City: Van Patten’s journey to “American Idol” received a little extra attention. After a long battle with alcoholism, Van Patten has now been sober for two and a half years and is focusing on her music career. She talked about having to break off an engagement when her ex-fiance would not support her “Idol” dreams, but said that she has received tremendous support from her family in Salt Lake City. She sang “When the Lights Go Down” by Faith Hill and was voted through by all three judges. “That is awesome,” Connick said. “That made my day. Good for her.”
Emily Rottler, 17, Salt Lake City: The judges teased Rottler for wearing mustard-colored tights, but she would ultimately impress them by singing “Valerie” by Amy Winehouse. “I feel like you’re the real thing,” Lopez said. “I feel like it’s a natural, natural thing for you to sing and play that guitar.” Three yeses, and Rottler had advanced to Hollywood.
Jocelyn Baker, 18, Salem: Baker sang “No Such Thing” by John Mayer and, though only a brief clip of her audition was shown, she received enough positive feedback to receive a golden ticket. “It was so, so exciting. I was thrilled to get the golden ticket,” she said in a backstage interview.
Sabrina Haskett, 15, Highland: Haskett was not shown on-camera in Salt Lake City,City but was voted into the next round by all three judges. According to her Facebook page, she sang “If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys and “Since U Been Gone” by Kelly Clarkson.
Anna Kaelin, Salt Lake City: Kaelin, who auditioned in Detroit, was voted through to Hollywood during the episode that aired on Jan. 22.
Like most audition episodes, however, Salt Lake City also had its fair share of oddball contestants, and some that were shown throughout the show.
“I did not know what language you were just singing in,” Connick told one contestant after a less-than-stellar audition. “I swear, I did not know that was English.”
Urban also had to break the bad news to a couple of contestants. “For me, if you really want to sing, I would I would take lessons,” he advised one singer. “I don’t know what pitch or key. The song was wandering everywhere.”
In the end, Salt Lake City provided some great musicians for the season.
“We sent more people through today, I think, than any other day so far,” Urban said. “That’s a testament to the level of talent we saw.”
“There’s a lot of really talented people in this world,” Connick said. “And they all come to ‘American Idol.’ ”