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"American Idol" 14 Auditions Begin Today; Champs, Favorites & Harry Offer Advice

Image courtesy of Jeff Daly/Fox (via ABC News Radio)
Image courtesy of Jeff Daly/Fox (via ABC News Radio)

American Idol Season 13 concluded less than a month ago, but auditions for season 14 are getting underway Wednesday in Minneapolis, MN. This year, there are a few twists, starting with the fact that the show is bringing back a former contestant to help identify the most talented hopefuls.

Carly Smithson , the tattooed Irish rock singer who made the top 10 on season seven -- that's the year David Cook won -- is joining the American Idol audition team for these first rounds, which singers have to get through before they make it in front of the judging panel. 

"Who's coming to Minneapolis Auditions ?? Excited to be joining the Team for AI14 !!! Who knows - Maybe I'll pick the next American Idol," tweeted Carly.  When a fan asked, "Wait, are they having previous contestants be judges?" she  replied , "no just something I personally wanted to do."

Another twist this year: if you happen to be the one who motivates a particular contestant to try out, and he or she ends up winning, you yourself could win $50,000 at the end of the season.  The contestant has to specifically designate you as the person who's eligible for the cash, which is called the American Idol True Believer Award. Visit Idol.ly/True-believer-rules to find out exactly how it works.

So how about some advice for your big audition?  We've rounded up a collection of champs, finalists and one judge to give you the scoop on what you need to do to make it through.

--Idol judge Harry Connick Jr. tells ABC News Radio that contestants should have "a clear idea of how you want to present yourself," and when you do, be sure to pick a few songs and "practice them until you can't practice anymore."  "Just be very, very definitive about every possible part of that performance that you can," he says. "What do the lyrics mean?  What key is the song in?"  He says contestants should have a variety of songs -- fast and slow -- prepared.  Overall, Harry thinks that it's about asking yourself, "What can you do that will show us that you can be an American Idol, which is more than just being a singer? It's a performer, it's an ambassador for a very powerful brand."

--Newly-crowned champ Caleb Johnson , who auditioned three times before winning, tells ABC News Radio that his advice is, "Just be prepared and just know who you are as an artist when you walk in that room, and just really kind of put your stamp down, because they're going to be really looking at that from the get go. So really come in with full force and just make your presence known, and your voice, and it should be easy from then on out."

--Season 12 champ Candace Glover , who also auditioned three times before winning, remembers being cut along with Caleb back in season 11 in Las Vegas. "I think it's amazing that two years in a row somebody that tried out three times gets to win," she tells ABC News Radio. "So returnees should take that as advice, and never give up, and always go back."

--Season 13 runner-up Jena Irene s ays if you're thinking about auditioning, her best advice is to go for it.  "You have nothing to lose. You have everything to gain," she tells ABC News Radio. "I wasn't going to audition. I mean, my friends told me to. So the fact that I did that, not knowing I was going to get this far and how much my life has changed for the better -- you have nothing to lose, so just give it all you got." And please be yourself," she adds. "Because that's what people connect with and that's what people want to see."

--Season 10 third-place finisher Haley Reinhart tells ABC News Radio that contestants should "do what feels instinctually right," adding, "Don't try to be a people pleaser, because even if you make it so far, you won't be happy, y'know....what I learned is be yourself from the get go. Stay focused and driven."

--Season eight top 10 finalist Scott MacIntyre , the first visually-impaired finalist in Idol history, tried out once in one city, was rejected, but then made it through in a different city.  He tells ABC News Radio, "What I figured out through that process of trying it twice in one year and the second time working, was that you really have to lay it out on the line in that first audition because there's tons of people around, it's a loud arena, there's at least 12 people singing at once down on the arena floor, and you really have to cut through that noise. So choose your songs wisely." 

The auditions visit Minneapolis on Wednesday, New Orleans on June 25, Uniondale, NY on July 23, Nashville on July 30 and San Francisco on September 29.  In addition, the American Idol bus tour will be traveling through the country starting July 9, and there are several other ways you can audition as well.  Visit AmericanIdol.com for all the details.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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