February 7, 2009 in Idaho Voices

‘She’s kind of wild and crazy’

Free-spirited charm sets local ‘Idol’ contestant apart
By The Spokesman-Review
 
Kathy Plonka photo

Rathdrum teenager Rose Flack hugs her guardian Tina Bye at their home on Wednesday.
(Full-size photo)

End of the line

Rose Flack was one of 30 competitors eliminated Wednesday on “American Idol.”

Life has changed since Rathdrum teenager Rose Flack earned a golden ticket to Hollywood on “American Idol” last week.

Flack’s free-spirited charm and natural talent won over each of the four judges during her Salt Lake City audition, thrusting her into the national spotlight and making her an overnight sensation in her hometown.

Her ticket was one of only 13 handed out to the 10,000 Hollywood hopefuls attending the final audition for season eight of “American Idol.”

She was eliminated from the competition Wednesday night, but the experience was intense, insane,” said Flack, who was thrilled to have obtained a coveted final audition before the judges. Flack’s journey to American Idol wasn’t easy. She faced homelessness and the loss of both parents before age 16. After moving to North Idaho to live with her brother, she eventually was invited to live with the family of her best friend, fellow workmate, and wardrobe consultant, Kaitlynn Bye.

The living situation has worked out well.

“She’s kind of wild and crazy and adds a lot of spice to the household,” said Kaitlynn’s father, Gary Bye, during an American Idol interview.

And Flack knows she is lucky to have found the Byes. “They are extremely supportive and truly amazing people,” she said of the family who dropped everything to drive all night when she called to say she had made it to a final interview with the judges.

Since Flack’s American Idol audition aired on FOX TV last week, her life has been “crazy.” She has been interviewed by radio, television and newspaper reporters. She posted a quick MySpace which immediately received thousands of hits; and was asked to give an inspirational speech and sing for the student body at Lakeland High School, where she graduated last spring.

“It was weird being an honored guest there. It was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ ” said Flack, still shocked by her sudden fame.

Flack also has become the most famous “wellness provider” at Generations Assisted Living and Wellness nursing home where she and Kaitlynn work. “They are proud of me,” she said of the residents she calls friends. “They said they saw me on TV and others said, ‘My goodness, you were in the paper.’ They were so adorable.”

Flack also was delightfully stunned to discover she had a fan club when a group of kids visited her at work a few nights ago. “They were so elated to meet me. They were so excited. There were about eight of them. They took pictures of me, and I looked horrible that night – I was at work,” she said. “It was amazing, to think I have a fan club.”

And it’s not just North Idaho groupies that have been charmed by Rose Flack. Her audition is featured on the official American Idol Web site as one of the most memorable auditions of season eight, and thousands of new fans have wished her well on the web.

When Cowell asked Flack to tell something about herself, she answered, “I’m charming,” and immediately proved herself right. “I charmed my way right through to the judging room, and I charmed my way right to Hollywood,” said North Idaho’s newest celebrity.

Flack’s imaginative look captivated the judges. Few would think to audition for the nation’s number one rated show in a hippie-looking dress, with dreadlocks, and bare feet – but Flack did.

“That’s just part of her free-spirited nature,” said Tina Bye, her best friend’s mother, who says Flack is well known around town for her innovative blond dreads and bare-footing nature.

“The dress was perfect,” said the irrepressible Flack. “I got it at Ross!”

“You look fantastic,” said notoriously hard to please judge, Simon Cowell, just seconds after meeting her.

“You have a beautiful face … an aura about you,” said Paula Abdul.

Flack, who appeared completely at ease in front of the camera, said she enjoyed the interview, but found the audition, “terrifying.”

“It was one of the most nerve-wracking experiences of my life,” she said. “Just talking with them was okay, but during the audition, when you know you could get your entire dreams taken away from you – it’s really scary.”

The judges weren’t so smitten with Flack’s song choice, an a cappella version of Carol King’s “I Feel the Earth Move,” which had not been Flack’s first pick either. “I was originally going to sing ‘Come Together’ by the Beatles, but they could not approve that for TV, so producers picked a new song for me,” she said.

Flack spent the five hours before her audition learning the words to the song. Once her brother, Jonathan Flack, advised her to slow down and sing it “a little more floozy and jazzy,” it began to feel right.

In the end, although the judges agreed she needs to “work on your vocals,” they sensed uniqueness about her.

“There’s something about you I absolutely love and you’ve got something special about you … you’re one of the few I’m going to remember,” said Cowell.

Contact correspondent Mary Jane Honegger by e-mail at Honegger2@verizon.net.


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