Cal State Long Beach junior journalism major Heather Youmans has achieved relative success in musical theatre and on the Radio Disney airwaves, but nothing could have compared to the feeling of receiving a golden ticket on “American Idol” on Sunday.
Youmans‘ “Some Kind of Wonderful” by Carole King impressed the judges in a unanimous decision that resulted in her ticket to Hollywood.
“I was shaking during my audition for the judges,” she said. “I’m a talkative person and I’m generally not nervous, but I was scared.”
The 19-year-old music minor said, during the performance, Steven Tyler waved his hands in the air, grooving to her sound, and Randy Jackson told her there was something about her. Jennifer Lopez asked Youmans to describe herself in one word and she chose optimistic.
With her hair flowing past her waist, Youmans considers herself to be “a crazy hippie girl” because of her “free spirit” and the “artistic influences” in her life.
Youmans, who was originally planning on trying out for “The Voice,” said her dad, a huge “Idol” fan and a CSULB graduate, was her inspiration for trying out.
Upon receiving a golden ticket, she said he was excited, but remained reserved. Instead, her grandma’s reaction surprised her.
“My grandma was jumping up and down,” she said. “She has mad hops.”
In fact, that reaction clip was what was shown of her during Sunday night’s broadcast. The short glimpse didn’t stop her Facebook page from “erupting,” as she put it.
“I opened my Facebook and posted a picture and there were 300 ‘likes’ on the picture in a matter of hours,” she said. “People from high school were contacting me who I hadn’t spoken to in a couple of years. But it’s all really sweet and I’m really thankful for all the opportunities I’ve had.”
During the season premiere of the show, Youmans was depicted in a “then and now” montage of “Idol” hopefuls. The clips showed her at 12 years old and during her audition, accompanied by her statement that she’s “been waiting for this for a long time.”
Despite the show’s ability to produce superstars overnight, “Idol” has become notorious for bad auditions. More often than not, those hopefuls truly believe they can sing.
“People are not honest with them,” Youmans said. “They make them think that they’re really good. It’s just an unfortunate situation. Their low point ends up shown on national television.”
Among the prank acts was a guy dressed like Lady Gaga with rhinestones on his lips, a couple as Dorothy and the Cowardly Lion from “The Wizard of Oz,” and a group of Fruit of the Loom mascots, none of whom were shown on TV.
“I think, in San Diego, despite the jokers in the bunch, there was a lot of talent,” Youmans said. “It represented all of California and the competition was really stiff.”
Still, Youmans said she didn’t let her fellow contestants discourage her.
“I kind of focus on the goal at hand and not the people around me,” she said.
Youmans isn’t exactly new to the entertainment scene. By the age of 13, she had done gigs in professional theatre, a few national commercials and a voice-over as Becky Thatcher for Disneyland’s Tom Sawyer Island. Later, her music was featured on the soundtracks of three major motion pictures – “Marley and Me: The Puppy Years,” “Flicka 2,” and “Moondance Alexander.”
She has released singles on iTunes and even had a hit on Radio Disney last year, entitled “Girl to Change Your World.”
Her sound is a mix of soul and rock ‘n’ roll, with a bit of funk infused. She said she would compare herself to Joss Stone, with a dash of Heart.
She’s so inspired by girl rockers that she started a radio program for the on-campus K-Beach entitled “Heartbreakers: The Women of Rock.” It will air Tuesdays from 5-6 p.m.
Currently, pending her progress on “American Idol,” Youmans works at Legoland as a Lego princess who sings Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out For a Hero” as part of an attraction at the park.
The San Diego auditions of “Idol” were aired after the NFC Championship game on Sunday night, but the game went into overtime and, for the East Coast, “Idol” didn’t start until 11 p.m.
As a result, FOX will re-air the episode Tuesday at 8 p.m., taking the place of a scheduled repeat of “Glee.”