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Fame doesn’t always come easy

Amanda Holt Miller
Western Garfield County Staff

DENVER ” Angela Lewis will have to seek her fame the old-fashioned way ” the hard way.

Lewis joined thousands of other young singers dreaming of getting on the fast track to superstardom over the weekend. They gathered at Invesco Field at Mile High Sunday to audition for the fifth season of the popular reality television show “American Idol.”

“American Idol” has the ability to catapult young singers into celebrity over the course of a single season of the show.



That’s what Lewis and the thousands of others hoped for when they stood in line for the auditions.

For the audition, Lewis sang one song a cappella at one of 14 judging tents on the Broncos football field for two producers. The show’s famed judges ” Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul or Randy Jackson ” weren’t around.



If the singers were selected to go on to the third round, then they would meet the judges.

Lewis wouldn’t get to sing for the three TV judges. She wasn’t asked back for the third round, but the experience was a memorable one.

Lewis, 24, wore a long white shirt that a friend tastefully covered in rhinestones, and black pants with rhinestone-decorated gaps up and down the seams. She covered it all with a white mesh shawl.

The outfit was carefully planned days in advance. This was her shot at the big time.

Lewis got in line to register at 6:30 Saturday morning. She would return to Invesco for the audition on Sunday.

“There are so many talented people here,” Lewis said, surrounded by young men and women dressed in tight jeans, sequins, some in cowboy hats, all with one unified dream.

“I was all worried about not knowing anyone when I got up there,” Lewis said after the competition was over. “But there was nothing to worry about. We were all there for the same reason. I met so many people, so many really talented people.”

Lewis said the talent of her peers did not intimidate her.

“I’m not thinking of this as a competition,” Lewis said on Sunday as she settled into her seat close to the 50-yard line around 9 a.m. “It’s just something I need to do.”

Lewis has dreamed of becoming a famous singer since she was a young girl when she used a hairbrush for a microphone. She sang on Star Search in February and has inched closer to stardom when she performed on the same stage as country duo Montgomery Gentry at the Antelope Valley County Fair in California last month.

Dreaming big is what “American Idol” is all about.

Recent circumstances have brought Lewis and her father, Timothy Krpalek, back together after 14 years. On Sunday, Lewis called him for a boost.

“He told me, ‘Don’t make me come down there and show you how to win this thing.’ We’re going to reunite,” Lewis said. “And my dad will walk me down the aisle (when she and her husband Leonard plan to renew their wedding vows for their fifth anniversary next summer). I’m so happy. Everything is coming together. If this happens today, all my dreams will come true,” Lewis said of the “American Idol” audition.

After the crowd of auditioners sang “Ain’t no mountain high enough” for a promotional video, Lewis opted to escape the Mile High sun and stroll restlessly through the inner corridor of the stadium around 10 a.m. taking to other hopefuls. She still had three more hours before her time to audition.

“I like to tell everyone good luck,” Lewis said. “If I do make it, I could be going to L.A. with some of these people.”

As she waited, Lewis saw a friend from Saturday’s registration line, Roan Velasco, from New Mexico.

Velasco said he was going to sing “Overjoyed” by Stevie Wonder.

“Do you want to hear it?” Velasco asked jumping up and smiling.

Lewis soaked up Velasco’s performance and congratulated him. She then asked him what she should sing ” “Mississippi Girl” by Faith Hill, “Baby Girl” by Sugarland or “Fancy” by Reba McIntyre.

Lewis sampled each song for Velasco. When she finished, he said he couldn’t decide, but left her with one bit of advice: “Girl, don’t hold back.”

From across the field singing could be heard from the judging tents.

“I’m not a loud singer,” Lewis said. “I don’t know what to sing.”

She sorted through her earlier choices, singing parts of them. She called her mother in Hawaii and asked for advice.

“Fancy,” her mother told her.

“I don’t know,” Lewis said. “I guess I’ll just wait until I get down there and go with my gut.”

One by one, singers went to the judging tents, and most were turned away disappointed.

As time drew closer to her audition, the butterflies started fluttering, Lewis confessed.

When the contestants in Lewis’ section were called to audition at 1 p.m., Lewis and three other singers in her row went to tent three, hoping to walk through the winner’s exit in the center of the stadium. Lewis had watched the exit intently from the stands, seeing very few make the coveted walk. Most walked down the field and out gate four ” the “losers” exit.

Lewis walked away from tent three, after singing “Mississippi Girl,” down the field and out gate four. No “American Idol” for Lewis this year.

“The judge asked everyone if they could sing something more upbeat, more poppy,” Lewis said. “I don’t think she liked country.”

Lewis said she had two judges, a man and a woman. The man provides a glimmer of hope to Lewis when he told her they had her phone number and picture and that they might call.

The call never came, and Lewis’ dream drifted back to the drawing board.

She drove home Sunday night even though she had a hotel reserved in case she wasn’t ushered through gate four.

It was a long couple of days, but she planned to call O’Leary’s Saloon in Rifle to see if there were going to have karaoke. She thought she might go.

She’s already signed up for her next competition. She’ll sing with a band at Whisky River in Grand Junction Thursday. Whoever the crowd selects as the best singer will be invited back.

“I’m bummed,” Lewis said Sunday night, “but I’ll keep singing.”

“American Idol” is over for Lewis, but the dream lives on.


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