As “American Idol” contestants lined up around the Davenport Grand Hotel on a rainy Sunday morning, they rode a wave of nerves.
Myles Middlemas, 26, got downtown at 4:30 a.m. and found himself standing behind 30 other hopefuls.
As the time grew closer to when the ballroom opened, Middlemas felt himself relax as he talked to the other musicians around him.
“It was just really nice to have that company around me,” Middlemas said.
The thousands of singers who came to audition for the ABC show didn’t know what to expect once they walked in the door.
Brittany Gardner, 27, of Spokane, planned to sing “Something’s Got a Hold on Me” by Etta James.
Gardner is a soul singer who has dreamed of appearing on “American Idol” since she was a little girl.
“They finally came to my backyard,” Gardner said.
The setup of the auditions was a bit surprising to Gardner, who expected to be singing in a room by herself with a producer, not in the large ballroom.
She wasn’t too thrown off, though.
“It’s okay – I’ve got a big voice,” Gardner said.
For Gardner, the experience of auditioning was important even if she didn’t move forward.
“I don’t even have hope to win really. I’m just glad to be here,” she said.
The contestants were called up in groups of four. Each person in the group stepped up to the producer and belted out their prepared song.
Occasionally, the producer stopped them mid-song and ask them to sing something else. Then the producer would talk to the group.
Sometimes they selected one person to move forward; other times they sent everyone away.
When a singer did get that golden ticket, other contestants in line cheered.
Middlemas was the first person to get a golden ticket after singing “Monday Morning Merle” by Cody Johnson for a producer.
“I think it’s been like a wave,” Middlemas said. “You’ll hit this nervous spot and you’ll be like, is this it? Is this the height of my nervousness? And then you kind of go back down and there’s another challenge they want you to reach.”
His mother, Jeanna, watched from the back of the room. Contestants can pick a family member or friend to stand in the back of the room for support.
“He wanted one person in there and he picked me,” Jeanna Middlemas said.
After the producer told Middlemas he was moving forward, he was whisked away for more in-depth interviews and to be filmed for other producers to watch.
His mother rushed over to give him her signature encouragement, “show-em like a boss.”
Middlemas is just two years shy of the 28-year-old age cutoff for “American Idol.”
His mother saw that producer auditions were coming to Spokane and heavily encouraged him to give it a shot.
“I know he’s good but all parents say that about their kids,” she said.
The Middlemas family moved to Spokane 10 years ago when Tyler, Myles’ dad, was diagnosed with Still’s disease, a rare type of arthritis that effects both joints and organs.
“It’s been quite the rough road,” Tyler Middlemas said. “These are the moments that I wanted to be a part of – my son’s choice and just doing what he’s doing.”
For Myles Middlemas, one of the reasons he turned to music was another family hardship, his grandfather’s death.
“I learned how to play guitar months later,” Middlemas said.
His grandfather was a singer with a deep baritone voice whose favorite song was “Amazing Grace.”
Middlemas went the country route with his deep yet raspy voice. After Sunday, he is unsure what the casting process will hold, but for now he’s excited.
“I felt great,” Middlemas said. “It was almost like a dream. It’s such a blessing to get this far.”
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