American Idol auditions continued on Thursday, but soon all eyes will be on Hollywood. That's where those who have made it through the first rounds are hoping to make it through to the semi-finals. The Tri-state has two local teenagers to cheer for: Eben Franckewitz from Milford and Courtney Flege from Walton, KY. Fox19's Kimberly Holmes Wiggins sat down with Courtney Flege this week.
During the day, Flege may seem like your typical 16 year old. She's a junior at Walton-Verona High School. She even has a part time job at her local McDonalds, but once she hangs up her uniform, she sings at various gigs around throughout the region.
Flege lives to sing. It's practically in her blood.
"My dad sang to me when I was a baby," said Flege.
Today, the young adult is headed to Hollywood. She's traveling on a journey that began when she was four years old. Singing at gig after gig, she gained confidence and exposure. She even performed at the Apollo in Harlem in New York City when she was just 10 years old. A year later, she gave the Tri-state a taste of her talent. In 2007, Flege sang a duet on the FOX19 Morning Show.
Years later, she enrolled at the School for Creative and Performing Arts in Cincinnati.
Dr. Isidore Rudnick is the artistic director for the school. He said he realized that Courtney had talent from the moment she enrolled. Rudnick said Flege studied drama, wrote songs, played piano and of course, sang in the choir.
"She really had some real creative songs that she composed in a very unique voice," said Dr. Rudnick. "Not a real high soprano voice. It was lower in range. It had a lot of soul to it."
Courtney's dreamt of going before the Idol judges for more than decade. Last summer, she turned 15. That's the minimum age required. She and her mom hopped on a Megabus and headed to Pittsburgh to audition.
"When it was my turn to go up Ryan Seacrest comes up to me, and he's like are you ready?" said Flege. "This is all off camera. He's just a normal guy. Really, really nice. Personable. He had a lot of makeup on. He's shorter than he looks."
Moments later, Flege then walked into the judges' room.
"They said where are you from?," said Flege. "I said Kentucky. They said, OOOOOOH Kentucky! J. Lo said 'Oh that explains your boots.' I had cowboy boots on. She said I love your dress. That was awesome to me because J. Lo said she loved my dress!"
Flege sang "I'm feeling good" by Michael Buble.
She said Idol judges Steven Tyler and J. Lo loved her performance, but then it all came down to the big guy.
"Randy Jackson just stood there," said Flege. "Everybody was just smiling and saying c'mon dog! C'mon! And he said it was already a yes for me!"
Three yeses add up to one golden ticket.
"That moment; To hold that ticket in my hand," said Flege. "It's unbelievable."
Flege's dad said he knew Courtney always had it in her, and he's proud of her no matter what career she pursues.
"She doesn't have to have a song on the radio," said Andrew Flege, Courtney's father. "She doesn't have to have her name in lights. That's not what makes me proud. She's a good person. She's a good girl. She's honest, friendly, fair, and she's a great singer!"
Flege transferred to Walton Verona High School this year to be closer to extended family. Walton Verona school administrators are considering adding a banner for their Northern Kentucky Idol.
"We might be able to do something," said Dan Sullivan, assistant principal for Walton Verona High School. "I don't think we'd be taking a day off school though."
Sorry, Courtney. We tried.
In the end, Flege says win or lose, she's having a blast, and that the love and support from her family keeps her grounded.
"There's always better singers, "said Flege. "They're always prettier people. There's always 10,000 no's before a yes. Just to know that I have that support makes me confident but not cocky."
Tune in to Hollywood week next week on FOX19 to see if our Courtney Flege moves on. She certainly has our hometown support.
Fox19's Kimberly Holmes Wiggins will also sit down with Eben, an Idol hopeful from Milford. His story will air next week on Fox19.