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Inklings: Not an Idle experience

  • Thursday, August 4, 2011

There was much excitement in the Hill Household last month as our oldest grandson Jimmy arrived – along with 10,000 other anticipants – to audition for American Idol. Jimmy has played many instruments and sung for a decade and now writes songs – words and music – so he seemed a natural to try out. He was encouraged and accompanied by some of his best friends.
Thus began a memorable four-day journey from North Carolina in one car with Matt, Mason and Will – all fellow musicians. In a second car came his mom, our daughter, Mary Clare and her two other children. Because our son David lives in North Charleston and his home would be convenient to all the Idol action, he invited them to stay with him.
This is a story in itself. With wife Amy and their three kids, 12 people shared their three-bedroom home. They unfolded futons, laid out sleeping bags, blew up air mattresses and I’m sure left night lights on so nobody tripped over the slew of bodies on the floor.
Three of the teens were six footers with typical teenage appetites. David loaded his breakfast counter with fruit, nuts, juices and energy bars he thought would last the duration. They disappeared in 24 hours. He said he stocked a zookeepers worth of bananas. Three gallons of milk went the same day they were purchased. Ten pounds of ground beef just barely made enough hamburgers.
The teenagers hit the beach a couple of times but spent much of the rest of their (relatively few) waking hours waiting in line. Because Jimmy is 17 his mom had to accompany him, joining the others getting up at 3 am to be in line by five o’clock. Finally after hours of waiting to register and get armbands and more hours waiting to be called in to audition, the big moment came.
“It was absolutely nerve wracking,” Jimmy told me. “I went in with three girls and we all had butterflies in our stomachs.” I thought we all did really well. Not one of us made it, but all of us said we’d come back.”
Was he disappointed? Sure. We all were. (Especially his grandparents who of course wondered what the judges could possibly have been thinking!). Ironically, Jimmy was the least let down of any of us. “I was really not as disappointed as I would have thought after the whole process was over. I would do it again, but not next year. I witnessed phenomenal singers who got cut because they didn’t have the right look or didn’t sing the right song. I think the more experience I get and the more I learn as a performer with my band, the more comfortable I’ll be in front of people.”
The whole trip was great, he said, topped off by being photographed and shown on TV (because of where he and his friends were standing in the crowd) with Ryan Seacrest!
Jimmy is a rising high school senior who plans to study both music and business in college. He has the passion and is learning that lifestyle’s basics. American Idol helped that. It inspired him – and from what he said – lots of others to work harder and do better.
How bad can that be?

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