One of the leading contenders for the Season 9 American Idol crown is 21-year-old Ashley Makailah Rodriguez of Chelsea, Massachusetts who won her golden ticket to Hollywood with a performance of Alicia Keys’ “If I Ain’t Got You.” The auditions were held just across the Mystic River from Chelsea in Boston, where Ashley is a senior at the renowned Berklee School of Music.
Here is the American Idol intro video and her audition:
It’s hard to impress the AI judges panel like that! A transcription of their praises:
Kara DioGuardi: I love you. I think you’re great. I love your look. That’s a very difficult song to sing and I think you still brought your own personality to it. And really you have the kind of look and voice that could be very commercial – and I think you’d do very well in this competition. I’d like to see you go to Hollywood.”
Victoria Beckham: I think you’re great. You look fantastic. You’re one of my favorites that I’ve seen.
Kara DioGuardi: You’re very sultry – there’s a sultriness to your voice. You know what? I think so too. You’re my favorite today, 100%.
Simon Cowell: I thought that was a very, very good audition. Some people have got “it” and I think you may have “it.”
Kara DioGuardi: Let’s take a vote. Simon?
Simon Cowell: A hundred percent yes, actually.
Randy Jackson: Two million thousand, five bazillion trillion yes,” said Jackson.
Victoria Beckham: Definitely yes and I love the way you’re dressed – you are naturally beautiful and very talented.
Kara DioGuardi: I think you got a good shot this year. You’re going to Hollywood.
Ashley’s Golden Ticket Exit Interview:
Ashley Makailah’s love of music began at the age of four when she started taking ballet, jazz and tap lessons, but really blossomed while attending Chelsea high school. During her four years there she enrolled in the drama club, taught herself to play guitar, took piano lessons and sang in the school chorus. John Nichols, her Chelsea High music teacher, tells the Chelsea Record:
“She was a very quiet student in her freshman year and a lot of freshmen are that way, kind of laid back, but then she started coming out in her sophomore year, and then really came on strong junior and senior years,” said Nichols. “I think she always had it in the back of her mind that she wanted to do music, but was a little not sure of herself. I tried to foster that self-confidence in her and give her the opportunities to perform as much as I could.”
Nichols recommended Ashley to the prestigious Berklee School of Music, to which she was accepted and given a four-year scholarship. While attending Berklee, Ashley honed her performing skills and also added a Music Business Management major to her degree. Among the many opportunities afforded her at the School, Ashley toured internationally with the gospel group Overjoyed, and sang alongside such talents as Chaka Kahn, Lalah Hathaway, Paula Cole and Philip Bailey at the Berklee Performance Center.
In case the title of this post didn’t already spoil it for you, there have been some reliable leaks from out of Hollywood that reveal the top 24 finalists for this season and Ashley Makailah Rodriguez is on that list! Not only that, but but most every seasoned vet of the show in the blogosphere projects Ashley to finish in the top 4! Of the posts I read, she had the most number one votes of all the contestants by far – which seems right on par with the American Idol judges’ observations at the Boston auditions.
Ashley’s performance of Sara Bareilles’ “Gravity” from last year:
(There is no video for the track, if you were wondering why I compressed the player)
Here are some professionally shot photos from her current myspace music profile:
Ashley Makailah is an unbelievably gifted singer and I look forward to following her this season on American Idol. Do they take American Idol bets in Vegas? I want to put $20 on Ashley and $15 on Katelyn Epperly. What do you think? Who’s your money on this season?
Want to know more about and see more of Ashley? Here are some links:
Her official website (still under construction at the time of this post)
Youtube uploader with lots of Ashley videos including an ABC news story about the Berklee School of Music outreach program that has an interview with Ashley when she was still a senior in high school:
Ashley Makailah Rodriguez on Myspace:
Ashley Makailah Rodriguez on Facebook: