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Two for Michigan as "Idol" heads to Hollywood

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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"American Idol" was good to Detroit, and Michigan, last season.

Thanks to August 2013 auditions at Ford Field, the metro area sent three aspiring singers to Hollywood Week, with Jena Irene and Malaya Watson -- along with West Bloomfield-born Florida resident Sam Woolf -- moving on as finalists, and Irene finishing as runner-up to her eventual North Farmington High School prom date Caleb Johnson.

The Fox TV show's 14th season won't be as kind to the Mitten, but as it begins its pre-taped Hollywood rounds this week, the judges awarded two Michiganders golden tickets -- though they're not allowed to say if we'll be seeing them more in the future.

Here's a quick look at "Idol's Michigan pair...


Age: 20

Hails From: Rockwood, Mich.

When not singing: Walls is studying music management at Madonna University in Livonia.

Auditioned in: Columbus, Ohio, for the "Idol" bus tour and in Kansas City.

Audition song: "If You Asked Me" by MacKenzie Porter. "I love singing country music, and I just had a feeling inside that, 'This is the song I have to sing.' "

Music is her life: Both of Walls' parents sing, and she grew up singing in the Donover Christian Community in Melvindale, where she continues to help lead worship services. "My mom said when I was younger I would sing around the house, and it just kind of stuck with me. When people would ask me what I want to be when I grew up, I'd say I want to be a singer-singer."

Big influences. "I love Carrie Underwood. She's my favorite, the one person that I really look up to. I could sing every single lyric to every one of her songs."

Her aspirations: "My passion is really to be a performer, and I'm going to work my hardest to try to achieve that. If that doesn't work I know I want to be in the industry and working with other artists and help them achieve their goals -- but that's Plan B."


Age: 19

Hails from: Port Huron

When he's not singing: Shere recently moved to Nashville "to expand my opportunities. I know I can only go so far in a town like" Fort Gratiot, where he resided previously. Shere is also considering enrolling in the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

Auditioned in: Nashville

Audition songs: "Nothing Ever Hurt Like You" by James Morrison -- "That one just really hits me as far as energy. That's what I try to bring to the table." -- and "I See Fire" by Ed Sheeran. "When I started listening to (Sheeran) it kinda struck me to do more stuff like him, so I did that song."

Music is his life: Shere began playing guitar when he was nine and started singing about four years ago. He's also performed around the region as a solo act. "I think I've really developed as an artist and began listening to more of my musical influences who really intrigued me and started to figure out who I was as an artist."

Big influences: James Morrison, John Mayer, Dave Matthews Band

His aspirations: "I'm just trying to get as many opportunities as I can. I've performed about 200 shows since I last saw the judges (in Detroit) and have really developed into more of a performer, too. It's time for me to, I think, got to the next step."

"American Idol"

8 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays through May TBA

Fox TV, WWJ-TV (Channel 2) in Detroit

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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