01/15/08 — Duplin girl reached third round of 'Idol'

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Duplin girl reached third round of 'Idol'

By Winkie Lee
Published in News on January 15, 2008 1:45 PM

When Blair Mozingo tunes into "American Idol" tonight, she will have a more personal understanding than most viewers do of what it takes to participate in the popular TV singing competition.

This past summer, Blair made it to the third round of auditions held in Atlanta, Ga., one of seven stops in the "American Idol" search for contestants for the 2008 season.

Though she didn't make it onto the show, the East Duplin High School senior says it was worth all the hours spent standing in line with thousands of hopefuls at the Georgia Dome. It was worth the challenge of preparing to sing her song at a moment's notice while others stood right next to her singing theirs. And it was worth having to quickly end a song midway and begin another at a judge's request.

It was even worth hearing she had the perfect image, a great sound ... and wouldn't be moving on. They had heard too many country singers, she was told, and they just didn't need another one.

As she headed back home to Duplin County, Blair was disappointed, but also pleased to have been part of the experience.

For a long time, friends have told her that she should audition for the show. They had heard her sing in Renee Hinson's country music productions, as well as at Snow Hill Free Will Baptist Church, weddings, pageants, anniversaries, funerals, festivals ... just about anywhere a person can sing.

Ever since Blair was 7, she has enjoyed dressing up and stepping into the spotlight to perform the country music she holds dear. It just seemed right that she should compete to be on "American Idol."

This year, she decided to give it a try.

First, she needed to raise money for the trip to and the stay in Atlanta.

In July, she recorded a CD and sold 200 copies of it at her mother's beauty shop, Images by Kerry & Co. She also sold 350 T-shirts at the July 4 celebration in Cedar Fork.

By August, she had all the money she needed.

She traveled to Georgia and waited in line for six hours to get into the Georgia Dome to register. She was one of about 12,000 contestants, she says, who, after registering went down to the Atlanta Falcons football field to sing.

Blair had rehearsed the Faith Hill song, "There Will Come A Day" and, when it was her turn, was sent to a cubicle with three other women. They stood side by side. Whoever was pointed at was the one supposed to sing just a few lines of her song while the others tried to prepare for their few seconds of audition time.

When round one ended, Blair heard the judge telling the contestants, "You're not what we're looking for. Come back again."

Then he looked at Blair.

"Here's your ticket," he said. "I like what I heard. You're going to the next round."

Round two took place a week later. Blair estimates that about 200 people had survived the first elimination and arrived back in Atlanta to try to go further.

For the second audition, they had been told to be prepared to sing whatever style of music the judges asked for and to keep singing until told to stop.

Blair was allowed to choose her songs and performed "There Will Come A Day," "Son of a Preacher Man" and "God Bless the Broken Road."

"I sang a half of a song and they cut me off and said, 'What else do you have for us,'" she says. So she began her second song ... and then her third.

The judges sent her to round three ... which she discovered was to be held in just 20 minutes.

That round took place on a small stage in front of an "American Idol"-designed background. Contestants entered the room one at a time to audition. The performances were filmed and the contestants were asked to pose for pictures.

It was quite an experience, even if it didn't lead her to round four, where she would have sung for "American Idol" television judges Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Paula .

Succeeding in "American Idol" auditions requires, in part, "being at the right place at the right time," she says.

One year what you have is what the judges are looking for. Another year, it isn't.

Blair hopes the right time for her will be next year. But, she says that when she returns to audition again, it will not be with a style of music or image that does not reflect her. She'll be ready and able to perform different styles, but she'll be favoring country.

"You can't change who you are," she says. "You have to bring yourself. You have to bring songs you are comfortable with."

The seventh season of "American Idol" begins tonight at 8 on FOX.